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Seminole County adds staff to newly formed coronavirus intelligence unit

EOC director contacts woman said she had COVID-19 and did not receive daily checks

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Seminole County Emergency Management Director Alan Harris confirms to News 6 as of Tuesday, the department has added three workers to its intelligence unit, bringing the total number to 10.

Seminole County officials confirmed they increased their staffing on the intelligence unit because they did not have enough staff to make the 500 plus calls a day to individuals ordered to quarantine by the local Department of Health during the coronavirus pandemic.

Harris said the unit provides access to wrap around services like food delivery, prescription deliveries and to check on any other needs.

“This will change as numbers increase,” Harris said.

Mirna Chamorro with the Florida Department of Health Seminole County branch confirmed individuals who are asked to self-isolate or quarantine are told that Seminole County will contact them to offer social services and determine if they have any needs.

“When the health department makes initial contact with an individual testing positive for COVID-19, they are informed of the guidance to care for themselves at home or seek medical attention if symptoms worsen and instructed on when to discontinue self-isolation,” Chamarro said. “They are also informed that Seminole County will follow up with them to offer social services.”

Chamarro confirmed the department works closely with the Seminole County Emergency Operations to provide social services to persons testing positive for COVID-19, as well as their contacts. But she would not confirm if they get a call or check in every day.

This comes just days after a Seminole County woman who tested positive for COVID-19 contacted News 6, concerned she had not been contacted by the county on a daily basis as promised.

Gabriella Bivona said Harris called her on Tuesday afternoon and apologized.

“He said apparently they called the wrong number on the 2nd, like I suspected,” Bivona said in a text to News 6. “He apologized for the miscommunication, (said) that they should have followed up with me sooner but it was not going to be every day like I was told. He said they just added more staff to hopefully resolve the issue.”

Harris confirms he made the call.

“We had a great conversation,” said Harris in an email response to a request for comment.

News 6 contacted the county’s health department on Sunday and Monday requesting information about how they check and keep track of those who have tested positive for the contagious virus.

On Tuesday, the agency sent this response:

The Florida Department of Health in Seminole County continues to contact COVID-19 positive confirmed cases and conducts contact investigations.

Case investigation notes are entered in a surveillance system and social services provided are noted in a County Tracking System.

The Florida Department of Health in Seminole County works closely with the Seminole County Emergency Operations Intelligence unit to provide socials services to persons testing positive for COVID-19 and their contacts.

Frequency of contacts with individuals is based on their specific needs.

When the health department makes initial contact with an individual testing positive for COVID-19, they are informed of the guidance to care for themselves at home and instructed on when to discontinue self-isolation.

Anyone with questions or concerns may call the health department at (407) 665-3000 for guidance.

Persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
  • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/disposition-in-home-patients.html

There are other specific guidance for health care personnel and person asymptomatic who has been in contact with a person with COVID-19.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/return-to-work.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/public-health-recommendations.html

News 6 also requested the log of contacts made by both the Florida Department of Health Seminole Epidemiology team and the Seminole intelligence unit with persons under investigation, patients who tested positive for COVID 19 and people under quarantine due to contact with someone who has tested positive for the contagious virus.

That request is currently under review.