Coronavirus update: Lee issues state of emergency
Lee County Commissioners have voted to enact a state of emergency.
The Lee Board of County Commissioners decided Tuesday to enact a State of Local Emergency as “a matter of procedure.”
Lee County officials also announced that Lee County libraries and some Lee County Parks & Recreation locations are closed to the public as of the end of operation hours Tuesday.
The county laid out a myriad of updates Tuesday that will be in effect for 30 days. These actions and operating decisions were presented to the County Commission at a regularly scheduled meeting. The Lee County Emergency Operations Center is at a “Level 2” virtual activation currently, as county officials coordinate with partners and stakeholders, officials said.
Other updates include:
n The Department of Community Development remains open, building permits are being issued, employees are using social distancing and the county encourages the public and clients make use of online services provided at www.leegov.com/dcd.
n Special events permits are suspended.
n Cash toll payments will be suspended on toll bridges beginning today, March 18, for 30 days. Motorists without a toll transponder will be billed for tolls via license plate scan; motorists will not be charged any service fee.
n Lee County Utilities customer service lobby will close; the drive-thru and drop-box service remains available and a drop-box location will be added at Public Works, 1500 Monroe St., Fort Myers.
n Lee County Parks & Recreation’s outdoor facilities remain open, and social distancing is encouraged. Indoor facilities, including recreation centers, community buildings and pools, closed at the end of the day Tuesday, as did dog parks.
n Lee County libraries online services will remain available at www.leelibrary.net; the telephone reference call center will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 239-533-INFO.
n LeeTran fixed route and Passport services will continue unchanged.
n Garbage pickup will continue on its regular schedule.
n Lee County Domestic Animal Services’ clinic will restrict work to emergency procedures. Animal Control Officers will continue to respond to emergency calls. The Adoption Center and Lost and Found (stray animals) will be open by appointment only. Call 239-533-7387. Pets are also available for fostering. Applications and other information is available at www.LeeLostPets.com.
The Lee County Clerk of Courts also announced that jury duty has been canceled until March 27 and Legal Aid appointments have been suspended. Beginning today, March 18, passport services will be suspended until further notice.
The latest numbers
The most recent release from the Florida Department of Health at press time showed 173 total positive cases in Florida residents and 19 positive cases in non-Florida residents.
An additional 32 cases were reported from Monday to Tuesday, 31 of whom were Florida residents and one non-Florida resident.
One person in Broward County who tested positive for COVID-19 has died, bringing the death total in the state to six. This death is in associated with an Assisted Living Facility.
There are five total cases in Lee County, including two deaths. Broward County has the most positive cases with 43, followed by Miami-Dade with 32.
According to the Florida Department of Health, the state recently partnered with private laboratories around the state to expand laboratory testing capacity. This partnership will increase the number of tests conducted each day and ensure Floridians receive the critical health information they need in a timely manner.
Expansion to private laboratories changes the COVID-19 testing landscape in Florida. Private laboratories will run tests as they receive swab samples from practitioners. Testing and reporting times will vary among commercial and DOH laboratories. Demographic information may be updated during investigations. These twice daily reports reflect the state’s efforts to accurately and transparently share information.
The Cape Coral Police Department is modifying operations in an effort to limit exposure to its personnel and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for the next 30 days.
“The Cape Coral Police Department will always immediately respond to emergency calls for service. However, given the current circumstances, we will be handling many non-emergency calls over the telephone,” the department said Tuesday.
Some examples of calls that can be handled over the telephone include:
n Identity theft, fraudulent use of a credit card
n Past occurred theft
n Criminal mischief
n Lost property
n Property damage
n Past occurred neighborhood dispute
To make a report over the phone, you can call 239-574-3223 or 239-574-0666.
In addition, the following temporary measures are also being taken:
n The CCPD is suspending fingerprinting for the public.
n The CCPD is suspending all public demonstrations such as K-9 and SWAT.
n The Citizen’s Academy scheduled to start in April will be postponed.
n Tours of the Cape Coral Police Station are suspended.
n The Ride-Along program is suspended.
“Please be aware that call takers will be screening calls and asking callers if they are exhibiting flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, coughing, etc.) to ensure the safety of our responding Officers,” the release states.
“We would like to thank everyone for their understanding and cooperation during this time. These precautions are temporary and all programs will resume when circumstances allow.”
DeSantis calls for closure of bars/clubs; restaurant restrictions
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday that all Florida bars and nightclubs be closed for 30 days beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday evening.
He also announced that restaurants must limit their number of patrons to 50 percent capacity and leave 6 feet between tables.
DeSantis said these orders after reviewing the most updated federal guidelines.
Free breakfast/lunch meals available to children while school is out
With Florida schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Commissioner Nikki Fried, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness have activated the Summer BreakSpot free meals program.
The Lee County these “grab-and-go” combination breakfast and lunch bags will be available from 9-11 a.m., Monday through Friday, March 23-27, at a number of locations. The meals are available to all youths 18 and younger; the child must be present to pick up a meal.
To view locations, visit www.leeschools.net and select “Food and Nutrition Service.”
United Way virtual call center
Lee County residents seeking general information about COVID-19 and its related impacts on the community can call the United Way 211 Helpline by dialing 2-1-1 or 239-433-3900 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
United Way of Lee County has trained volunteers who can provide information related to cancellations, closings and status updates for schools, government offices, day camps/ day cares and events. They also can provide information on safety precautions, social distancing, and self-isolation.
The 211 line does not replace the Florida Department of Health’s COVID-19 hotline. If you think you or someone in your family might have COVID-19 and are exhibiting respiratory illness symptoms, you should call a healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will work with the Florida Department of Health to determine whether testing is needed.
For updates on the state’s response to the coronavirus, visit www.FloridaHealth.gov/COVID-19.
-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj