BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – As cases of COVID-19 spread across Florida, Brevard County government officials declared a state of emergency Saturday afternoon — a day after a national emergency was declared federally.
"There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Brevard County. Brevard County spokesman Don Walker said in a statement. "However, the emergency declaration gives the county additional operational flexibilities during this public health crisis, including the ability to expend additional funds in response to coronavirus."
"If emergency needs arise, we are able to appropriate funds as needed," Walker said.
There now are 70 reported cases of coronavirus infections in Florida, with three associated deaths. One of those deaths was a Floridian outside of the state at the time.
School closures, event cancellations and strong warnings to limit social contact have all been part of the major response locally to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in order to limit the number of people infected and the potential strain on the health care system.
The state of emergency will allow for more streamlined government processes should the virus severely impact the county.
Some of the advantages of having an emergency declaration are that it:
- Helps obtain necessary supplies quickly: Procurement policy may be waived to allow for timely access to personal protective equipment for first responders and sanitation supplies for critical public buildings, such as courthouses, the Brevard Jail, the Emergency Operations Center).
- Removes obstacles to a timely response: The county manager may be permitted to adjust leave policies and, if necessary, suspend union contracts in order to deal with a potential emergency.
- Provides timely access to financial resources by cutting red tape: Financial reserves may be accessed, as needed, to stage in anticipation of and, if necessary, respond to an emergency.
- In the event of a biological threat, reduces the threat of person-to-person transmission: Mass gatherings may be limited, as necessary and appropriate.
- Streamlines intergovernmental crisis management: Measures to better coordinate consequence management, in conjunction with Florida Department of Health and Brevard Public Schools, may be implemented.
- Better enables the county to seek federal reimbursement: The declaration of an emergency situates the county such that it may qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement that might otherwise not be available.