JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — More than 4,200 people in Florida and 2,300 people in Georgia have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia as schools, businesses and public events are closed or canceled.
Action News Jax has the very latest information on Florida cases of the coronavirus LIVE on FOX30 and CBS47. Click here to watch.
Camden County announced that a previously voluntary curfew will become mandatory starting Monday, March 30.
The curfew is from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. and will not restrict essential travel to and from work, medical care, pharmacies, or to get gas or food.
The Florida Department of Transportation said the ramp from I-95 South to US-17 will be closed until further notice while authorities maintain a COVID-19 checkpoint just past the Florida-Georgia border.
Drivers that need to access US-17 will be redirected to SR 200 in Yulee.
Traffic on I-95 Northbound won’t be effected.
Gov. DeSantis created the checkpoint to cut down on drivers entering the state from “hot spots” like New York and New Jersey.
Mayor Lenny Curry said lanes will be added to the Lot J COVID-19 testing center in Downtown Jacksonville.
According to a series of tweets from NFL columnist Mike Freeman, former Jaguar Tony Boselli was hospitalized with coronavirus.
The City said the $10 million is reimbursement money from the State from past disasters. The City said it will use the founds to fight against the spread of the coronavirus.
The City said Lot J had a large turnout Sunday morning.
March 28, 9:40 p.m.:
March 28, 6:10 p.m.: St. Johns County announced Saturday evening that all public beaches in the county will be closed to public access starting 6 a.m. Sunday, March 29 until further notice.
“We have taken as many measures as possible up to this point to preserve our residents’ ability to access their beach. Unfortunately, those visiting the beach continue to ignore CDC guidelines regarding crowd size and personal distancing. In order to maintain public safety and respect the State of Florida’s Executive Order, we had no choice but to close the coastline to public access today,” said Hunter S. Conrad, St. Johns County Administrator. “We will continue to be methodical in our approach to closings related to COVID-19, and like every decision we have made to this point, we will open the beaches at the appropriate time when it is safe to do so.”
The closure came just two hours after City of Jacksonville Director of Public Affairs admonished St. Johns County officials for allowing beaches to remain open as crowds gathered all over the county.
The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office said they plan to educate and warn the public, regarding beach closures, instead of punishing. However, if it comes to it, they have the authority to do so.
“You could be arrested and taken to jail,” Commander Scott Beaver said. “But, that would be a last resort for us. We don’t want to do that during these times“
Last Monday, the county closed beach parking lots in an effort to lessen the crowds, but it did not stop people from finding a way to get to the beach. Commander Beaver said Saturday was the tipping point.
“People were finding any place that they could possibly get on the beach: vacant lots, walking through people’s yards, parking in yards, and just not respecting each other‘s property and the privacy,“ Beaver said.
Moving forward, for now, deputies will be stationed at all beach access points
March 28, 5:15 p.m.: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry tweeted Saturday that the City of Jacksonville has distributed more than 137,000 pieces of personal protective equipment.
March 28, 3:30 p.m.: Gov. Ron DeSantis said travel restrictions from “hot zones” allowed authorities to stop a man who flew to Jacksonville from New York that previously tested positive for COVID-19.
DeSantis said the man was taken to a hospital directly from the airport after he was identified at a screening checkpoint.
Though DeSantis does not have the authority to shut down interstate travel, he did institute an executive order that requires anyone traveling from New York to Florida to quarantine for 14 days.
The governor also set up a check point on I-10 to screen people coming into the state from Louisiana. He is looking to set up a similar check point on I-95.
Gov. DeSantis said new COVID-19 tests that are being distributed throughout the state will provide results in a matter of minutes, rather than days.
DeSantis said the new tests will yield results within 45 minutes. The current tests take up to 48 hours to show results, but back-ups at testing labs are causing results to show up four to five days after the tests are taken.
He also said the Food and Drug Administration approved a new test from Abbott Labs that yields positive results in 5 minutes and negative results within 15 minutes.
“We’re willing to pay our own way on that,” DeSantis said.
Abbott will begin distributing 50,000 tests per day nationwide Monday.
So far, Florida has tested almost 40,000 people and there are 1,000 waiting for results.
DeSantis said people are allowed to use testing sites in their area from other counties.
March 28, 1:30 p.m.: New numbers released by the Florida and Georgia departments of health show an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in each state, as the number of tests administered increases.
Florida’s total number of positive cases went up by 565 and Georgia’s increased by 236.
Locally, Duval County cases increased from 99 to 115, Clay County’s cases went from 22 to 24 and St. Johns cases increased from 42 to 48.
Southeast Georgia counties did not see an increase in cases from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.
March 28, 9:15 a.m.: As the amount of coronavirus cases in Northeast Florida continues to increase, Jacksonville-area hospitals say they are looking ahead and are “working around the clock to ensure we are ready to manage a potential surge in patient needs.”
The CEOs of Ascension St. Vincent’s, Baptist Health/Wolfson Children’s Hospital, Brooks Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic, Memorial Hospital, Orange Park Medical Center and UF Health released a joint statement, saying they are “using predictive analytics to project various possible “surge” scenarios.”
They said there are 500 ICU beds across the region “but that doesn’t tell the whole story,” the statement said. “We are diligently working to expand that number, when we need it.”
The statement also said that only a portion of people hospitalized will require intensive care, and the best strategy is prevention through methods such as social distancing.
CLICK ON THE TWEET BELOW TO READ THE FULL STATEMENT:
March 28, 9 a.m.: Since Bishop Felipe Estevez has suspended all masses in the Diocese of St. Augustine until further notice due to COVID-19, priests are finding creative ways to reach out to their parishioners.
On Friday, Father Richard Pagano, pastor of St. John Paul II Parish in Nocatee, flew over the Nocatee, Ponte Vedra, and St. Augustine areas in a helicopter.
He was holding a monstrance, which is a transparent receptacle in which the consecrated Body of Christ is exposed.
Pagano offered a blessing to those below while he was flying.
March 28, 8:30 a.m.: The City of St. Marys City Council declared a state of emergency in the city due to the coronavirus.
The St. Marys Police Department said in a Facebook post that the most immediate impact of the declaration is mandatory business closings and a curfew.
Residents need to stay in their homes from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., unless they are exempt. When it comes to business closings, the police department said that “Gyms, fitness centers, pools, social clubs, amusement facilities, bowling alleys, pool halls, theaters, massage parlors, nail salons, and any other similar facility, any facility used for an activity that involves prolonged physical proximity of individuals, and any facility used for entertainment, social, grooming, or general health and well being purposes, must close and remain closed for the duration of this emergency.”
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