FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – Flagler County officials met Monday to give an update on and discuss new measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus within the community.
Emergency Management Director Johnathan Lord had strong word for county residents who have decided to take the pandemic lightly and implemented new measures to keep citizens safe.
“We can make a difference in slowing the spread of the virus that’s causing COVID-19,” Lord said. “However every single person failing to do so impacts the lives of others in our community. State and local government do not want to add additional restrictions, however as individuals and groups continue to ignore public health guidance and government orders we are put in the uncomfortable position of having to increase restrictions in order to protect our community.”
Current restrictions in Flagler County include Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order limiting alcohol sales, the suspension of on-premise food consumption at restaurants, closing gyms and fitness centers, suspending non-essential medical procedures, suspending vacation rentals and directing all individuals 65 and older with underlying health conditions to stay at home.
The county has also closed beaches and parks, but issued additional emergency orders in efforts to slow the outbreak within its area.
“Lodging facilities should provide all visitors from those areas a copy of the order and when they receive reservation inquiries from those areas, they must inform them of the order,” Lord said. “This order also includes reporting requirements from individuals from those areas arriving at the Flagler Executive Airport.”
Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said deputies will be enforcing the new order and will impose consequences for those who violate them.
“The new county orders provide for criminal sanctions should you violate them-- being on the beach, getting out of quarantine, staying in a rental after the order went into effect,” Staly said. “Lets not make this a criminal act, we don’t want to do that, we’ve been educating everyone for over three weeks now, we’re still getting violations, although I will say most of the community is following guidelines.”
County Commission Chairman David Sullivan announced a seven-day expansion of local emergency services due to the coronavirus.
“In Flagler County we have 13 total positive residents, including one non-county resident and one hospitalization,” said Bob Synder, Public Health Officer for the Flagler County Department of Health. “Total cases under investigation is 178, of that number 13 tested positive and 165 tested negative for 7%, which is below the state average of 10%.”
While it is unclear when functions will return to normal and when the COVID-19 pandemic may slow, Staly offered a hopeful outlook should all citizens follow safety rules and orders put in place.
“We must comply with these orders and social distancing, we must comply,” Staly said. “Give us a few more weeks and hopefully we’ll be back to normal.”
Residents can report possible violations to the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation at 866-532-1440.