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Mon, July 20, 2020

The State of Florida Issues COVID-19 Updates

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The State of Florida Issues COVID-19 Updates

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –  The State of Florida is responding to COVID-19. As of Friday, June 5, the state has moved into Phase 2 of Florida’s reopening plan. The Florida Department of Health will now issue this update once per week. However, DOH will continue to update the COVID-19 dashboard and post the state report daily.

Governor Ron DeSantis is in constant communication with Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz and State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees as the State of Florida continues to monitor and respond to the threat of COVID-19.

Today, Governor DeSantis announced that the Florida Housing Finance Corporation has approved $75 million in CARES Act funding to local governments throughout the state for rental and mortgage assistance.

More information about this funding is available here.

Governor DeSantis announced the state has contracted an additional 1,000 nurses and medical personnel to deploy to hospitals across the state to assist hospitals with staffing shortages. Governor DeSantis also announced the state is expanding the number of beds in isolation centers for individuals in long-term care facilities that test positive for COVID-19.

Governor DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis hosted a roundtable discussion regarding mental health and COVID-19 at the Tampa Bay Crisis Center with Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Chad Poppell. The roundtable discussion is available to watch here.

Governor DeSantis hosted a roundtable discussion with Miami-Dade County mayors to discuss Miami-Dade County’s ongoing response to COVID-19 and the continued partnership between local governments and the state. The roundtable discussion is available to watch here.

Governor DeSantis provided updates on the state’s COVID-19 response, including an update on COVID-19 testing, during press conferences this week in Bradenton and Tallahassee. The presentation for this week’s updates is available here.

Governor DeSantis provided remarks at the State Board of Education meeting. The meeting is available to watch here.    

Recent actions the state has taken to respond to COVID-19:

  • The Florida Department of Health (DOH) continues to update the Florida COVID-19 Response page. This week, DOH updated the Frequently Asked Questions page to include topics such as COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and more information regarding the virus. The FAQ page is available here.
  • This week, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) began offering a separate, observed self-swab lane to symptomatic individuals at four state-supported drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites. This initiative will reduce wait time and expedite test results to symptomatic individuals. More information is available here.
  • This week, FDEM deployed a 15-bed Mobile Hospital Unit to the BayCare Winter Haven hospital. This mobile hospital will support the hospital’s capacity and be ready for use by the end of next week.
  • This week, FDEM opened four new state-supported walk-up COVID-19 testing sites at Home Depots in Duval, Lake, Leon and Seminole counties. A full list of state-supported testing sites is available here.
  • FDEM has paid out $292,923,955 in CARES Act disbursements to 53 counties. More information about CARES Act funding is available here.
  • To date, the Division has sent the following PPE to support health care workers and first responders:
    • More than 49 million masks
    • More than 14.6 million gloves
    • Nearly 2 million face shields
    • More than 1.1 million shoe covers
    • More than 4.3 million gowns
    • More than 105 thousand goggles
    • More than 69 thousand coveralls
  • At the direction of Governor DeSantis, the state currently supports 50 COVID-19 testing sites across the state, with the capacity to conduct up to 29,000 tests per day. The state continues to expand testing capacity, in addition to supporting county-run testing efforts, to ensure all Floridians can receive a COVID-19 test. To date, state-supported testing sites has conducted more than 800,000 tests. A list of state-supported testing sites can be found here.
  • To date, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has made more than 4,000 onsite visits to facilities and more than 40,000 telephone calls to residential providers statewide to provide support and determine emergent needs of facilities.
  • In order to receive the flexibility and continuity provided for in Emergency Order 2020-06, school districts must submit a reopening plan for review and approval that satisfies the requirements of the order. These plans are due to the Florida Department of Education by July 31, and approved plans will be posted at www.fldoe.org/em-response.
  • The Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) Restaurant Meal Initiative has served over 1,273,000 in partnership with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association with delivery through the Department’s 11 Area Agencies on Aging.
  • DOEA Secretary Prudom participated in a consultation call with Region IV of the State Units on Aging (SUA) and the SUA Directors for the states of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
  • DOEA distributed over 11,000 mental health resource flyers to the 11 Area Agencies on Aging throughout the state.
  • DOEA has provided over 100,000 telephone reassurance calls to older adults throughout the state and is averaging 25,000 calls each month.
  • Since March 1, 2020, Floridians have conducted nearly 2 million motor vehicle and credential transactions virtually through the department’s online services webpage: com. FLHSMV encourages Floridians who can, to complete their driver license or motor vehicle transactions online, rather than in person at a driver license office.
  • Approximately 1,341 Florida National Guardsmen (FLNG) are mobilized to support Florida’s response to COVID-19.
  • FLNG has expanded its support to mobile testing teams and the community-based and walk-up test sites. To date, the FLNG has assisted in the testing of more than 811,676 individuals for the COVID-19 virus.
  • The Department of Revenue (DOR) has expanded its capacity for responding to child support customers who choose to handle their cases by email. The Department has also added a direct link to the email form for ease of access: floridarevenue.com/AskChildSupport. In addition to email, child support customers can contact the Child Support Program by webchat, fax, phone, or online using eServices.
  • FDOT continues to lead the coordination of DOH and the Florida Highway Patrol to implement Executive Order 20-86 at the I-95 checkpoint. To date, more than 47,300 traveler forms have been collected at the I-95 checkpoint.
  • For 24-hour counsel, call the National Veteran Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Veterans in Florida may also call the Florida Veterans Support Lineat 1-844-MyFLVet (693-5838) or 2-1-1.

Additional actions the state has taken to respond to COVID-19:

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

  • The Florida Department of Health (DOH) continues to update the Florida COVID-19 Response page. This week, DOH updated the Frequently Asked Questions page to include topics such as COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and more information regarding the virus. The FAQ page is available here.
  • DOH has posted a list of Agency for Persons with Disabilities Licensed Group Homes with positive COVID-19 cases. This report will be updated weekly and is available here.
  • DOH reminded all Floridians to protect the vulnerable by avoiding the Three Cs: Closed Spaces, Crowded Places and Close-Contact Settings and by wearing a mask in public:
    • Closed Spaces. Avoid closed spaces with poor ventilation that could allow contagious droplets to linger in the air.
    • Crowded Places. Avoid crowded places with many people nearby; the greater the number of individuals in an area, the greater the chances of COVID-19 spreading from person-to-person.
    • Close-Contact Settings. Avoid close-range conversations and stay at least six-feet from others.
  • DOH issued a Public Health Advisory recommending the following:
    • All individuals in Florida should wear face coverings in any setting where social distancing is not possible,
    • All individuals over the age of 65 and all individuals of any age with high-risk health conditions should limit personal interactions outside of the home,
    • All individuals should refrain from participation in social or recreational gatherings of more than 50 people.
  • To date, DOH has reported more than 1,600 contact tracers who are assisting with COVID-19 efforts across the state.
  • DOH announced that the list of long-term care facilities in Florida associated with COVID-19 cases will now include active cases in each facility in order to provide real-time data. The list of long-term care facilities with active COVID-19 cases is available here
  • DOH is providing a report detailing surveillance data for every Florida county. Previously, this information was only available for select communities. The surveillance data report is available here.
  • At the direction of Governor DeSantis, State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees declared a Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 in Florida.
  • DOH established a public call center for questions regarding COVID-19. The call center launched Monday, March 2, and is open 24/7.
  • In an effort to increase testing, Governor DeSantis has directed Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees on an emergency temporary basis to allow licensed pharmacists in Florida to order and administer COVID-19 tests.
  • DOH is working with Florida’s Board of Pharmacy and Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation on mobile pharmacy compliance guidance.
  • More information on DOH’s COVID-19 response is available here.

FLORIDA DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

  • This week, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) began offering a separate, observed self-swab lane to symptomatic individuals at four state-supported drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites. This initiative will reduce wait time and expedite test results to symptomatic individuals. More information is available here.
  • This week, FDEM deployed a 15-bed Mobile Hospital Unit to the BayCare Winter Haven hospital. This mobile hospital will support the hospital’s capacity and be ready for use by the end of next week.
  • This week, FDEM opened four new state-supported walk-up COVID-19 testing sites in Duval, Lake, Leon and Seminole counties. A full list of state-supported testing sites is available here.
  • FDEM has paid out $292,923,955 in CARES Act disbursements to 53 counties. More information about CARES Act funding is available here.
  • To date, the Division has sent the following PPE to support health care workers and first responders:
    • More than 49 million masks
    • More than 14.6 million gloves
    • Nearly 2 million face shields
    • More than 1.1 million shoe covers
    • More than 4.3 million gowns
    • More than 105 thousand goggles
    • More than 69 thousand coveralls
  • For long-term care facilities alone, the Division has sent:
    • More than 10 million masks
    • 1 million gloves
    • More than 500,000 face shields
    • More than 900,000 gowns
  • At the direction of Governor DeSantis, the state currently supports 50 COVID-19 testing sites across the state, with the capacity to conduct up to 29,000 tests per day. The state continues to expand testing capacity, in addition to supporting county-run testing efforts, to ensure all Floridians can receive a COVID-19 test. To date, state-supported testing sites has conducted more than 750,000 tests. A list of state-supported testing sites can be found here.
  • Five state-supported drive-thru testing sites located in Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, Orange and Duval counties are offering free antibody testing to anyone over the age of 18. The sites offering antibody tests are available here.
  • The Florida Division of Emergency Management has launched a website to track the mobile lab that is testing long-term care facilities across the state. The website is available here.
  • Find more information on DEM’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA AGENCY FOR HEALTH CARE ADMINISTRATION

  • To date, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has made more than 4,000 onsite visits to facilities and more than 40,000 telephone calls to residential providers statewide to provide support and determine emergent needs of facilities.
  • AHCA added an additional tab to the Hospital Bed Capacity Dashboard to reflect hospitalizations with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19.
  • On June 16, AHCA issued Emergency Rule 59AER20-4 and Emergency Rule 59AER20-5. These rules require nursing home and assisted living facility staff to be tested for COVID-19 every two weeks with testing resources provided by the state and to submit test results to their employer/facility.
  • AHCA issued Emergency Order NO. 20-003 providing financial relief to nursing homes and Intermediate Care Facilities during the state’s public health emergency. The emergency order extends the deadlines for March and April 2020 Quality Assessment payments until June 15, 2020 for Intermediate Care Facilities, and June 20, 2020 for nursing homes.
  • AHCA issued Emergency Rule 59AER20-2 and Emergency Rule 59AER20-3. These rules require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to grant access to the Florida Department of Health or their authorized representative for the purpose infection prevention and control, including mandated COVID-19 testing of both on-duty and off-duty staff when arranged by the Department.
  • At the direction of Governor DeSantis, AHCA issued Emergency Rule 59AER20-1 requiring hospitals to test all patients for COVID-19, regardless of symptoms, prior to discharge to long-term care facilities.
  • AHCA sent out an email to nursing homes requiring the transfer of residents with verified or suspected cases if they cannot be appropriately isolated and adhere to the CDC recommendations for COVID-19 response.
  • AHCA issued a provider alert announcing additional flexibilities within the Medicaid program made at the direction of Governor DeSantis. Authorization requirements and services limits for medically necessary behavioral health care for are now waived.
  • AHCA created a new temporary Personal Care Attendant program to help long-term care facilities fill staffing shortages. The program provides an 8-hour training on assisting with direct care so that personal care attendants can temporarily perform additional duties.
  • AHCA has been working with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to ensure current Medicaid recipients maintain benefits during the state of emergency. Medicaid application deadlines have also been extended.
  • Find more information on AHCA’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL REGULATION

  • DBPR issued Emergency Order 2020-09, effective June 26, 2020, that suspends the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises for all vendors licensed for such sale who derive more than 50 percent of gross revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages. Such vendors may continue to sell alcoholic beverages in sealed containers for consumption off the premises in accordance with Executive Order 20-71, Sections 1 and 2.
  • The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) issued Emergency Order 2020-08 which extends the deadlines for examination eligibility and licensure eligibility through December 31, 2020, for professional licenses regulated pursuant to Chapter 455, Florida Statutes, and the related professional practice acts. The Order supersedes section 4 of DBPR Emergency Order 2020-03, which had previously extended these deadlines through May 31, 2020.
  • DPBR has distributed Additional Information for Barbershops and Cosmetology Salons Pursuant to Executive Order 20-120 and FAQs for Executive Order 20-120 – Expanding Phase 1: Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery to provide additional information and guidelines for barbershops, cosmetology salons, and cosmetology specialty salons.
  • Find more information on DBPR’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

  • Governor DeSantis announced federal approval for the implementation of Florida’s Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program, which will automatically issue benefits during the month of June to more than 2.1 million children who have temporarily lost access to free and reduced-price school meals during COVID-19-related school closures. 
  • As part of her Hope for Healing Florida initiative, First Lady Casey DeSantis recently announced that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) will be receiving a $1.9 million emergency grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which will provide crisis counseling and other mental health support for Floridians impacted by COVID-19.
  • Per DCF’s request, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Florida’s waiver to permit the state to launch a pilot project that allows families to purchase groceries online with their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card beginning April 21, 2020.
  • DCF worked with the Florida Department of Health (DOH) to develop precautionary protocols for child welfare professionals and adult protective investigators who may have to make in-person visits to ensure the safety of those vulnerable populations.
  • Find more information on DCF’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

  • The Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) is expanding COVID-19 testing at institutions when indicated by a positive case. More than 200,000 inmates have been tested.
  • FDC has resumed modified volunteer activities at select institutions.
  • FDC has distributed cloth face coverings to all correctional officers and inmates at correctional institutions statewide.
  • FDC is closely aligned with the CDC Interim Guidance on Management of COVID-19 in Correctional and Detention Facilities.
  • New inmate commitments from county jails undergo additional screening and 14-day quarantine before placement within the general population.
  • FDC has suspended visitation at all correctional institutions statewide.
  • Find more information on FDC’s response to COVID-19 here. 

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

  • Governor Ron DeSantis has directed the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to continue waiving the work search and work registration requirements for claimants through August 1, 2020. Additionally, the waiting week requirement will continue to be waived through August 1, 2020.
  • To comply with federal law, effective May 10, 2020, claimants for all Reemployment Assistance programs, including state Reemployment Assistance, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, will be required to return to the CONNECT system every two weeks to request their benefits or “claim their weeks.” In doing so, claimants will confirm that they are still unemployed and acknowledge that they are able and available for work should it be offered. For more information, click here. If claimants, currently receiving Reemployment Assistance benefits, no longer wish to receive benefits, they do not need to claim their weeks, as payments will stop processing if weeks stop being claimed.
  • DEO, in partnership with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, launched a website to verify the identity of claimants who have been locked out of their CONNECT account, the online system for processing Reemployment Assistance claims. Individuals who were locked out of their CONNECT account have been notified and provided a direct link to verify their information so they can access their account.
  • DEO is administering the Federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. The program is offered by the federal CARES Act and provides up to 13 weeks of benefits to a claimant who has exhausted Reemployment Assistance. For more information, please click here.
  • The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program that provides unemployment benefits to those that may not otherwise be eligible under Florida’s state Reemployment Assistance program is available. Eligibility includes independent contractors, gig workers and individuals who are self-employed. Working Floridians who have been impacted by COVID-19 and believe they may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, can visit org and select "File a Claim" to apply and be considered for PUA. Individuals may also call 1-833-FL-Apply (1-833-352-7759) for any questions they may have.
  • DEO continues to provide updates on the efforts made to address the challenges to Florida’s Reemployment Assistance program in response to COVID-19. This includes the State Reemployment Assistance Claims Dashboard that is updated daily to reflect the total number of Reemployment Assistance Claims submitted, verified, processed and paid.
  • DEO announced more than 1,000 small businesses have been awarded more than $49 million from the Florida Small Emergency Bridge Loan program
  • The Business Damage Assessment survey is activated and continues to accept surveys to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s local business operations and determine the appropriate actions for recovery. Click here to access the survey.
  • Find more information on DEO’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

  • On June 11, the Florida Department of Education announced the full-reopening of Florida’s schools and CARES Act plan, visit here.
  • Florida Education Commissioner Corcoran issued Emergency Order 2020-06 - Further Guidance for Closing Achievement Gaps and Creating Safe Spaces for Learning that:
    • Ensures that Florida schools are open for in-person learning and in compliance with the many educationally important state and federal laws that ensure an equitable education for all types of learners, including our many at-risk students.  
    • Gave districts and schools flexibility to craft their own locally conceived plans, a request from districts, charters and private schools.
    • Gave districts and schools guidance and flexibility on how to compassionately maintain education for medically vulnerable students and families.
    • Guided that state and federally required services for at-risk students must meet the same high bars of quality set forth in law.
    • Created additional pathways for districts and schools to comply with state laws that numerous districts, charter schools and private schools asked for guidance on.
    • Provided districts, charters, privates and the many professionals that run schools the financial certainty that they will be supported as they support our students.
  • In order to receive the flexibility and continuity provided for in Emergency Order 2020-06, school districts must submit a reopening plan for review and approval that satisfies the requirements of the order. These plans are due to the Department of Education by July 31, and approved plans will be posted at www.fldoe.org/em-response.
  • Hosted multiple webinars providing guidance to Florida school districts, charter schools, private schools, and education stakeholders on plans to re-open. The recordings of the webinars can be found here.
  • Find more information on DOE’s response to COVID-19 here

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ELDER AFFAIRS

  • The Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) Restaurant Meal Initiative has served over 1,273,000 in partnership with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association with delivery through the Department’s 11 Area Agencies on Aging.
  • DOEA Secretary Prudom participated in a consultation call with Region IV of the State Units on Aging (SUA) and the SUA Directors for the states of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
  • DOEA distributed over 11,000 mental health resource flyers to the 11 Area Agencies on Aging throughout the state.
  • DOEA has provided over 100,000 telephone reassurance calls to older adults throughout the state and is averaging 25,000 calls each month.
  • DOEA’s Aging Network continues to sustain a 200-percent increase in meal delivery, compared to pre-COVID-19 numbers: this is in addition to the Restaurant Meal Initiative.
  • Pursuant to Executive Order 20-52 issued by Governor DeSantis, the Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) issued Emergency Order 20-01 on March 31 pertaining to in-person guardian visitation requirements where COVID-19 response and mitigation measures prevent such visits.
  • DOEA issued Guidance in furtherance of Order 20-01 on March 31 for Public and Professional Guardians to remain in compliance with Florida Statute 744.361(14).
  • DOEA has created a dedicated webpage to provide resources on COVID-19 including: tips for caregivers, information on closures of senior centers and adult day care centers, and alternative services for congregate meal sites.
  • Find more information on DOEA’s COVID-19 response here.

ENTERPRISE FLORIDA

  • Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) recently launched a Virtual Trade Shows Grant Program to allow companies to identify international clients and generate new export opportunities. Traditional international trade shows are being temporarily replaced by virtual events to promote safe worldwide business opportunities. For more information, please contact one of EFI’s 

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