The State of Florida Issues COVID-19 Updates 03/24/20

3/24/2020

The State of Florida Issues COVID-19 Updates 03/24/20

The State of Florida is responding to COVID-19. In an effort to keep Florida residents and visitors safe and aware regarding the status of the virus, the Florida Department of Health will issue this update every day, seven days per week. 

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 held a briefing via live stream and announced the additional efforts to respond to COVID-19:

  • Governor DeSantis announced that he is issuing an Executive Order to require anyone that travels to Florida from New York to self-isolate for 14 days or for the duration of the individual’s presence in Florida, whichever is shorter. Violating the order is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500.
  • Governor DeSantis announced he is issuing an Executive Order to direct Florida’s Surgeon General, Dr. Rivkees, to issue a public health advisory urging the following:
    • Persons 65 years or older are encouraged to stay home for 14 days;
    • Persons with certain underlying medical conditions are encouraged to stay home for 14 days;
    • All employers are encouraged to utilize telework; and
    • Consistent with CDC guidance, all individuals should avoid social gatherings of 10 or more.

More Information on COVID-19

To find the most up-to-date information and guidance on COVID-19, please visit the Department of Health’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage. For information and advisories from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), please visit the CDC COVID-19 website. For more information about current travel advisories issued by the U.S. Department of State, please visit the travel advisory website.

For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling (866) 779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours per day. Inquiries may also be emailed to COVID-19@flhealth.gov.

What you Should Know

COVID-19 can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, including when an individual coughs or sneezes. These droplets may land on objects and surfaces. Other people may contract COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days following exposure. Most people recover from COVID-19 without needing special treatment. The elderly and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The Department recommends everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
  • Staying home when you are sick and avoiding contact with persons in poor health;
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Covering your cough or sneezing into a tissue, then disposing of the tissue;
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing;
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty; and
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

The CDC does not recommend that asymptomatic, healthy people wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

A person that experiences a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travel from any other destination with community transmission should call ahead to their health care provider and local CHD and mention their recent travel or close contact.

If a person has had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from this area or been in contact with a person with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, he or she should call ahead to a health care professional and the CHD. The health care provider will work with the Department to determine if the person should be tested for COVID-19.

Actions the state has taken to respond to COVID-19:

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

  • At the direction of Governor DeSantis, State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees declared a Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 in Florida.
  • Governor DeSantis announced that the State ordered an additional 2,500 test kits to supplement the adequate resources already available to test for COVID-19. These additional test kits will enable the Department of Health, working with Florida health care providers, to test up to an additional 625,000 individuals. The Governor also suspended non-essential in state and all out-of-state travel for state employees for 30 days.
  • Established an Incident Management Team to coordinate response operations.
  • Defined a high-level phased response strategy for COVID-19.
  • Activated a dedicated incident command post for on-site response activities.
  • Conducted three public health and health care stakeholder conference calls to provide statewide updates on the current outbreak situation, response actions and guidance for pandemic planning. Over five hundred participants joined the calls.
  • Established a public call center for questions regarding COVID-19. The call center launched Monday, March 2.
  • Developed and distributed COVID-19 presentation materials to County Health Departments (CHD) for use at community meetings.
  • Activated the Joint Information Center in coordination with the Division of Emergency Management.
  • Developed and implemented protocols for investigation, surveillance and monitoring for COVID-19 to rapidly detect and contain cases.  
  • Established mechanisms for monitoring and coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding epidemiological activities.
  • Distributed CDC Interim Guidance for public health personnel evaluating Persons Under Investigation (PUI) and asymptomatic close contacts of confirmed cases at their home or non-home residential settings to CHDs.
  • Approved and disseminated an updated Clinician Screening Tool for identifying COVID-19 PUIs.
  • Implemented testing at all three State Public Health Laboratories.
  • Distributed updated CDC guidance for schools to CHDs and the Department of Education.
  • Distributed updated laboratory guidance regarding implementation of testing at State Public Health Laboratories.
  • Developing a laboratory surge plan.
  • Identifying and monitoring close contacts of presumptive cases. Any close contacts with symptoms will be tested.
  • Implemented private lab testing.
  • Developed and disseminated pandemic planning guidance. 
  • Advised CHDs and HCCs to retain expired personal protective equipment until further until further notice.
  • Developing infographics for first responders (fire, law enforcement and EMS) regarding infection control and personal protection for COVID-19. 
  • At the Governor’s direction, a public-private partnership has been put in place between Memorial Healthcare in Broward and the National Guard to set up a mobile testing unit.
  • At the direction of Governor DeSantis hiring additional epidemiologists from university health programs to help with workload.
  • Governor DeSantis directed the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to extend all existing nursing home and assisted living facility licenses for 90 days to remove distraction from patient care.

THE DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

  • To support communities responding to COVID-19, Governor DeSantis has directed FDEM Director Jared Moskowitz to expedite the delivery of more than $170 million in Hurricane Irma reimbursements to cities, counties and hospital districts that have now reached the 50-percent auditing threshold to receive funds.
  • After conducting a thorough assessment of needs, Director Moskowitz has requested the following supplies through Direct Federal Assistance. Supplies are being delivered on a rolling basis, and inventory is being distributed throughout the state 24 hours a day.
    • 5 mobile intensive care units
    • 5,000 ventilators
    • 5,000 hospital beds
    • 50,000 two oz. bottles of hand sanitizer
    • 250,000 coveralls
    • 500,000 gloves
    • 500,000 gowns
    • 500,000 collection kits
    • 100,000 16 oz. bottles of hand sanitizers
    • 150,000 Personal Protective Equipment kits, including coveralls, gowns, and goggles   
    • 2 million N95 face masks

AGENCY FOR HEALTH CARE ADMINISTRATION

  • AHCA expanded its event on the Emergency Status System (ESS) requesting hospitals to enter information on Personal Protective Equipment and ventilator counts. The ESS continues to track census information, emergency room status updates, isolation beds, and nursing home and assisted living facility bed capacity.
  • AHCA and the Department issued guidance for Senior Living Communities (independent living) on COVID-19 best practices, advising facilities to cease communal activities, practice social distancing and restrict community outings.
  • AHCA distributed telemedicine guidance to health care providers for behavior analysis services.
  • AHCA distributed an overview to iBudget providers of the revised payment methodology that will be used over the next few months to help support providers of adult day training, residential habilitation, life skills development level 1-companion and in-home personal supports. Retention payments will be made to give necessary financial support to providers who would otherwise not receive payment due to current public distancing requirements.
  • Secretary Mayhew is working directly with hospitals and large health systems to identify potential vacant wings or buildings to provide additional hospital inpatient capacity should it become necessary.
  • On March 16, Florida became the first state to receive CMS approval of its 1135 Medicaid Waiver giving AHCA more flexibility for its COVID-19 response efforts. This federal action lifts Medicaid prior authorization requirements for critical health care services and allows for expedited provider enrollment.
  • AHCA, in coordination with DEM and the Department, is hosting ongoing statewide calls for hospitals in conjunction with the Florida Hospital Association. Secretary Mayhew and Surgeon General Rivkees to provide the most up-to-date information to hospital partners and residential facilitates caring for aging and vulnerable populations.
  • The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) will be granting a 90-day extension to all licenses for health care providers and regulated facilities.
  • AHCA is distributing information regarding regulatory flexibilities created by waivers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) related to skilled nursing facilities, critical access hospitals, home health agencies, durable medical equipment, provider enrollment, etc. 
  • The Florida Medicaid Program announced coverage of commercial testing for COVID-19 for dates of service back to February 4. 

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL REGULATION

  • DBPR’s Emergency Coordinating Officer and State Mass Care Coordinator is supporting the initiation of FDOH’s joint information center and providing assistance as requested of State Emergency Support Function 6.
  • DBPR has suspended all official business visits, including inspections, that involve licenses located at a facility covered under the visitation restrictions implemented pursuant to FDEM Emergency Order 20-002. 
  • DBPR issued an emergency order, EO 2020-01 to extend license renewal deadlines and renewal requirements for a period of 30 days for licenses with an existing renewal deadline occurring in the months of March or April, 2020.
  • DBPR has distributed the Governor’s Executive Order (EO-20-68) regarding bars, nightclubs, beaches, and restaurants to all known e-mail addresses of record for alcoholic beverage, public food service, and public lodging license holders. DBPR will continue to push information and guidance relating to the directives of EO 20-68 to impacted parties through the DBPR Emergency Information Page, social media channels, and outreach to industry and public sector partners.
  • DBPR has launched a dedicated emergency information page (http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/emergency/) with direct links to the FDOH COVID-19 webpage as well as information on agency emergency orders, schedule and meeting changes for divisions and boards, and other important departmental information during this emergency.
  • DBPR has distributed a document titled Frequently Asked Questions Related to Restaurant, Bars and Nightclubs pursuant to Executive Order (EO-20-68). This document helps to clarify the agency’s role in the enforcement of the Executive Order as well as guidelines for restaurants per the Governor’s directive.

DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

  • The Department of Children and Families’ Secretary Chad Poppell continues to send regular communication to all DCF staff, contracted partners, and licensed facilities (including child care providers) about COVID-19, including precautionary measures (as outlined by the CDC) and temporary policy updates.
  • DCF is leading status update calls with both internal leadership and leadership from external contracted partners. For the time being, these calls will take place twice weekly, every Tuesday and Friday. 
  • DCF’s Office of Child Welfare is sending regular communication about COVID-19 specifically to licensed child care providers, directing them to follow the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Childcare Programs and K-12 Schools to Plan, Prepare, and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). An FAQ document for providers was also posted prominently on DCF’s Child Care webpage.
  • DCF’s Office of Child Welfare is disseminating a survey to licensed child care providers to assess closures throughout the state. Currently, the decision to close is at the discretion of each individual facility. 
  • DCF is working with DOH and DOE to develop guidance for licensed child care providers to assist with COVID-19 prevention in facilities and ensure safe operations.
  • DCF is working with 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.
  • DCF is coordinating with specific child care providers to issue provisional licenses for services to support Florida’s first responders during this pandemic.
  • DCF established strategies for COVID-19 prevention at all three state mental health treatment facilities, as well as the South Florida mental health facilities run by Wellpath Recovery Solutions, a contracted partner. They are reporting daily updates to ensure compliance with virus prevention and monitor potential outbreaks.
  • At the request of Governor DeSantis, and in accordance with the federal Families First Coronavirus Act, DCF waived work requirements for individuals participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
  • DCF temporarily closed all economic self-sufficiency storefronts to the public. Customers of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Medicaid programs are encouraged to utilize the online Self-Service Portal. They can also make phone calls or submit information through secure drop boxes that have been placed outside at existing storefront locations.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

  • FDC has a plan in place and dedicated staff members trained in the prevention and containment of infectious diseases.
  • Precautions are in place at facilities to protect inmates and staff from COVID-19; preventative measures are being followed per CDC recommendations.
  • New inmate commitments from county jails have been temporarily restricted. FDC is working closely with the Florida Sheriff’s Association regarding this temporary measure.
  • Anyone entering a correctional institution will be screened in accordance with CDC and Department guidelines.
  • FDC Community Corrections officers are working with offenders on supervision to adjust reporting schedules.
  • FDC has suspended visitation and volunteer programs at all correctional institutions statewide through April 5, 2020.
  • All non-critical inmate transfers have been suspended.
  • Outside inmate work squads have been restricted.
  • For more information on FDC’s COVID-19 response visit: www.dc.state.fl.us/comm/index.html

DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

  • Florida’s 24 local workforce development boards are available to provide career and business services remotely, with services and technology varying by location.  For more information, visit careersourceflorida.com.
  • Governor DeSantis’ request to the federal U.S. Small Business Administration to make the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program available for Florida’s small businesses impacted by COVID-19 has been granted. Small businesses are eligible to apply for the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans that offer up to $2 million in economic assistance to help small businesses overcome the temporary loss of revenue resulting from COVID-19. 
  • Governor Ron DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The bridge loan program, managed by DEO, provides short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced economic injury from COVID-19. The application period is open and runs through May 8, 2020. Interested businesses should visit FloridaDisaster.Biz for more information.
  • The Business Damage Assessment survey is activated to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s local business operations. The survey, managed by DEO, will evaluate businesses affected by COVID-19 and the impacts the virus has had on the local economy so actions to implement appropriate relief programs can begin. The survey can be taken online at https://floridadisaster.biz/

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

  • Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran directed public and private K-12 and career and technical center campuses to closed through April 15, 2020, and institute distance learning by March 30th.  
  • Schools are encouraged to operate virtually or through other non-classroom-based means to the greatest extent possible to implement distance learning. 
  • School districts should be prepared to extend their educational calendars through June 30, 2020, to the extent feasible and necessary. 
  • To support students with identified IEP-related services who may have a disruption in services, school districts are given flexibility for the remainder of the school year to provide alternative services or delay services until later in the summer months, in coordination with a student’s parents and IEP team. 
  • Governor Ron DeSantis and Commissioner Corcoran cancelled all remaining assessments for school readiness, voluntary prekindergarten and K-12 assessments for the 2019-2020 school year. 
  • The Florida Department of Education and K-12 school districts were instructed to redirect unspent 2019-2020 funds from Reading Scholarship Accounts, the Reading Instruction Allocation, the Digital Classroom Allocation and the Teachers Classroom Supply Assistance Program to help low-income students purchase digital devices and establish Internet services. 
  • In order to facilitate the remote connection between teachers and students, K-12 school districts are further permitted to redirect unspent Title 2 funds to help low-income students purchase digital devices and establish Internet services. 
  • K-12 school districts are permitted to redirect unspent 2019-2020 funds from the Safe Schools and Mental Health allocations to virtual and telephonic mental health counseling services for students who need emotional support due to COVID-19. 
  • All school readiness, voluntary prekindergarten, K-12, career and technical centers and state college programs will receive their full allocation of funding, and therefore staff and contractors can be paid fully, through June 30, 2020, as though there was no disruption in education.   
  • For the next 120 days, exam fees for teacher certification-related examinations will be waived, and test takers who were unable to take an exam due to test site locations closing will be granted an extension to meet these requirements. 
  • All services provided by the divisions of Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services to clients shall be provided solely though virtual and telephonic methods to the extent possible. 
  • All public state colleges, and private college and campuses and buildings are closed for the remainder of the spring semester. 
  • FDOE has established a resource website for educators, parents, and students to utilize free resources that help students during distance learning at http://www.fldoe.org/em-response.

DEPARTMENT OF ELDER AFFAIRS

  • DOEA worked with the Alzheimer's Disease Advisory Committee to coordinate with each of the Memory Disorder Clinics to compile information on services being provided to individuals living with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia and their caregivers during the COVID-19 crisis. Discussion also centered on new, remote engagement opportunities to allow for the continued care of this group.
  • DOEA held an DOEA Advisory Council call to discuss COVID-19 update and concerns statewide. Provided information regarding local restaurants coordinating feeding statewide, expansion of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) through DOH and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through DCF.
  • DOEA’s Planning and Evaluation Program provided information from a Volunteer Availability Survey to the SEOC and to each region in the Aging Network.
  • The Department is piloting a new platform with its Serving Heath Insurance Needs of Elders (SHINE) Program to determine if specific groups may be created on the SHINE Facebook page for each of the Planning and Service Areas (PSAs) in Florida. This will allow the Department to invite the volunteers from each PSA to an area-specific group.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

  • At the direction of Governor DeSantis and to successfully uphold CDC guidance to maximize social distancing and avoid gatherings larger than 10 people, DEP will close all Florida State Parks to the public effective Monday, March 23.
  • In addition, beginning Tuesday, March 24, public access to lands within DEP’s Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas will be closed.
  • DEP will continue to keep the public updated on park operational status through the Florida State Parks web page and social media channels.
  • DEP continues to work to identify ways to develop a safe and sustainable work environment for all of our employees that will also ensure we are able to perform all of our core functions and meet our agency’s mission. DEP has developed initial plans that will enable staff to begin teleworking beginning March 20, 2020. These plans are designed, and are expected to be, adaptive to meet any new guidance or circumstances that may arise, as well as ensure that unique staffing needs are appropriately

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAY SAFETY AND MOTOR VEHICLES

  • At the direction of Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor has issued an Emergency Order extending all Florida driver licenses, commercial driver licenses and identification cards that will expire now through April 15, 2020.
  • Pursuant to Executive Order 20-52 issued by Governor Ron DeSantis, FLHSMV Executive Director Rhodes has waived commercial truck hours of service regulations and other related regulations so that emergency supplies, equipment, commodities and resources can be moved more quickly and efficiently throughout the state.
  • The Florida Highway Patrol has deployed personnel and equipment to assist ongoing drive-thru testing efforts in Pembroke Pines, Jacksonville and Miami.
  • The Florida Highway Patrol is mobilizing personnel and equipment to assist with upcoming drive-thru testing efforts in Orlando.

OFFICE OF INSURANCE REGULATION

  • OIR has issued Informational Memorandum OIR-20-03M directing all insurers and other entities regulated by OIR to review and update their business continuity and/or continuity of operations plans. Companies are directed to immediately contact OIR if their continuity plans are activated and/or if business operations become compromised so it can work with insurers to avoid any disruption in consumer services.
  • OIR has issued Informational Memorandum OIR-20-01M to all health insurers and health maintenance organizations, directing them to:
    • Use every channel available to them to communicate with their policyholders and share official CDC and DOH information;
    • Devote resources to inform consumers of available benefits, quickly respond to inquiries, and avoid and dispel misinformation;
    • Work with public health officials to do everything possible to prepare and respond; and
    • Consider all practicable options to reduce the barriers of cost-sharing for testing and treatment of COVID-19.
  • OIR has issued Informational Memorandum OIR-20-02Mas a reminder to all health insurers, health maintenance organizations, and other health entities to allow for early prescription refills following the Governor’s Executive Order 20-52 declaring a state of emergency in Florida.
  • OIR has spoken with multiple insurers who are voluntarily waiving cost-sharing for consumers in an effort to remove barriers to testing for COVID-19.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF JUVENILE JUSTICE

  • The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice’s Office of Health Services developed COVID-19 guidance for all facilities serving DJJ youth. This guidance included Center for Disease Control criteria on how to assess and care for youth who are exhibiting fever and respiratory symptoms and environmental cleaning and disinfection recommendations.
  • The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has modified screening protocols and procedures for youth taken into custody by law enforcement who are brought to juvenile assessment centers and detention screening units to now include precautionary coronavirus screening questions and protocols. This modified screening protocol was shared with law enforcement partners statewide.
  • The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has issued an emergency order that will suspend visitation at all state-operated juvenile detention centers and juvenile residential commitment programs until April 15, 2020 and then will evaluate the health and safety of resuming normal visitation protocols. DJJ has also instituted additional screening measures for outside vendors who work within juvenile facilities. Clinical personnel are still permitted to visit youth for treatment purposes, instructional personnel are permitted to provide educational services, and attorneys are permitted to conduct legal visits with youth.  

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT

  • FDLE is coordinating and staffing law enforcement missions statewide, including:
    • Implemented Commercial Truck Hours of Service Waiver.
    • Coordinating 4 law enforcement officers with marked patrol cars for traffic control and security at drive-through collection point in Broward County.
    • Resource Management to obtain quote for 24 Hr private security (2-4) PAX for DOH Warehouse
    • Assisting the Orange County Sheriff's Office and Local Law Enforcement with request by Orange County Public Schools for law enforcement officers to provide security, direct traffic, and operational support at 50 feeding sites to provide food to students. OCPS requires 2­4 LEOs per location, and they beginning Monday (3/23/2020) through Friday (4/15/2020) from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm hours. There is a potential for an extension that will be decided at a later date.
    • Coordinating FHP's assistance to support drive-thru COVID19 Testing. This will ensure effective traffic control for mission success at testing site.
    • Working with Broward Sheriff’s Office to set up a priority access lane for first responders in the event they have been exposed, have symptoms or meet the criteria for coronavirus
    • Coordinated LEO for perimeter security and enforcing no visitation at Atria Willow Wood Assisted Living Facility, providing 24/7 presence for 14 days.
    • Assisting EOC Health with LEO support for Region 3 R.E.S.T. Team. Team is conducting health and medical response efforts in the region. Work with the incident commander and IMT for LEO activities as needed.
    • Coordinating transport of disinfectant supplies from West Palm Beach to Jacksonville. 
  • FDLE is continuing to coordinate multiple medical supply support requests with FHP as well as working with our local law enforcement partners on requests as needed at collection site locations statewide (security, traffic direction, etc.). 
  • FDLE is working with state and local agencies and the Florida National Guard to set up testing collection sites in multiple locations across Florida.
  • FDLE’s Office of Mutual Aid prepared and distributed a law enforcement guide on COVID-19 for law enforcement partners and state agencies and FDLE’s General Counsel prepared a law enforcement guide for protocols in a quarantine.
  • FDLE has distributed a COVID-19 legal guidance document to all its law enforcement partners in reference to Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order and continues regular communication with them.

FLORIDA LOTTERY

  • To protect players and employees during the COVID-19, Florida Lottery Headquarters and district offices will be closed to the public beginning Monday, March 23 until further notice.
  • Players who have winning tickets are encouraged to mail them to Florida Lottery Headquarters or their closest district office during this office closure. The Florida Lottery has also issued an Emergency Order that extends claim deadlines by 90 days. The Lottery anticipates these deadline extensions will be long enough to allow players to hold on to their winning tickets until Lottery offices reopen to the public.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT SERVICES

  • DMS Secretary Jonathan Satter issued an emergency order that waived rules to allow for state employees to use any type of accrued leave for instances related to COVID-19, including self-isolation after potential exposure, staying home with children due to child care or school closures, and time needed to take care of dependents like an elder parent. The order also waived rules to expand the ability for employees to donate leave to fellow employees.  
  • The Florida Department of Management Services’ (DMS) Emergency Support Function-7 (ESF-7) Logistics team continues to coordinate with the Department of Health and the Division of Emergency Management on identifying the equipment or supplies that may be necessary for a mass response to COVID-19. 
  • DMS’ Division of Human Resource Management has provided guidance to agencies on implementing preventive actions in the workplace, reporting symptoms, using leave, utilizing health insurance benefits, and applying travel restrictions and telework policies.
  • DMS’ Division of State Group Insurance continues to coordinate with health plan providers to ensure that state employee health plan members receive the health benefits that can assist them and their dependents if needed.
  • DMS’ Division of Real Estate Development and Management (REDM) continues to provide guidance to agency facility managers across the state on steps to take to prevent workplace contamination and to pre-position environmental vendors to mobilize in the event a viricidal cleaning is needed.
  • DMS’ Division of Real Estate Development and Management continues to identify, purchase, and distribute additional hand sanitizing gel and cleaning supplies to state-maintained facilities.
  • DMS’ Division of State Technology-Public Safety Unit continues to coordinate with users and vendor of the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) vendors to ensure the continuation of mission critical services if a reduction of staffing resources occurs.
  • DMS’ Division of State Technology-Public Safety Unit continues to coordinate with statewide public safety communications personnel on their plans to ensure emergency communications systems are not impacted by potential reductions in staffing resources. 

DEPARTMENT OF MILITARY AFFAIRS

  • 1,147 Florida National Guardsmen have been activated in support of COVID-19.
  • The Florida National Guard continues to support the State's COVID-19 response with Community Based Testing Sites augmentation in Broward, Orange, and Miami-Dade counties as well as in the City of Miami.
  • Today, the Florida National Guard conducted rehearsals and operational checks in Orange County, with a projected opening date of Wednesday, March 25. Development of an additional CBTS at the Marlins Stadium in the City of Miami will be initiated in coming days.
  • The Florida National Guard has been asked to augment local law enforcement and airport authorities in application of the Governor's order to conduct screening on passengers inbound from CA, WA, CT, NY and NJ at major airports.
  • The Florida National Guard has activated our medical professionals (Army Combat Medic Specialists and Air Force Medical Technicians) in support of the Florida Department of Health's (DOH) Community Based Testing Sites. The Guardsmen have reported in and formed Task Force Medical.
  • The Florida National Guard has activated Guardsmen to augment the State Logistics Readiness Center (SLRC), the State's Logistics Branch, as well as facilitate statewide logistics needs of the Florida National Guard formations on mission. Support of the SLRC has expanded to a 24/7 operation model in order to maintain visibility on both State and Federal commodities, which has become critical to ensuring that FLNG personnel have required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and sampling kits to in order to conduct the mission support.
  • The Florida National Guard has activated Guardsmen to augment the State Emergency Operations Center and local emergency management offices across the state.

AGENCY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

  • APD issued an Emergency Order to providers suspending certain renewal deadlines due to COVID-19.
  • FDLE is continuing to coordinate multiple medical supply support requests with FHP as well as working with our local law enforcement partners on requests as needed at collection site locations statewide (security, traffic direction, etc.).
  • FDLE is working with state and local agencies and the Florida National Guard to set up testing collection sites in multiple locations across Florida.
  • FDLE’s Office of Mutual Aid prepared and distributed a law enforcement guide on COVID-19 for law enforcement partners and state agencies and FDLE’s General Counsel prepared a law enforcement guide for protocols in a quarantine.
  • FDLE has distributed a COVID-19 legal guidance document to all its law enforcement partners in reference to Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order and continues regular communication with them.

DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE

  • The Property Tax Oversight (PTO) program is reminding county property appraisers of their existing statutory authority to grant a 30-day extension beyond the April 1 deadline for taxpayers to file tangible personal property tax returns. PTO is also advising taxpayers who contact the Department about this deadline to contact their county property appraisers’ offices for more information about requesting the extension.
  • The Department has added a dedicated COVID-19 webpage for child support customers at com/childsupport/coronavirus. The new page provides comprehensive information for alternative options for handling many routine child support case activities without visiting a local child support office. Efforts also include rescheduling genetic testing sample collection appointments and postponing other types of appointments.
  • The Department of Revenue is advising child support customers who are scheduled for court hearings related to their child support cases to check with the local courts where the hearings are scheduled in case the courts have new requirements, such as appearing telephonically.
  • The Department of Revenue has established a dedicated team to address tax-related issues pertaining to COVID-19 and has created an email address, COVID19TAXHELP@floridarevenue.com, where taxpayers can send questions and concerns. The Department encourages all taxpayers to use our e-services applications to file and pay taxesor contact the call center at (850) 488-6800. 

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE

  • The Florida Department of State has finalized its telework procedures and are currently assessing employees’ requests for telework on an individual basis. Additionally, with the closures of building to the public, we are continuing plans to develop and share valuable resources to the public digitally via social media, email, and online.

CAREERSOURCE FLORIDA

  • Email communication from Board Chairman Kevin Doyle and President and CEO Michelle Dennard to the CareerSource Florida Board of Directors with a status update on state workforce system issues related to COVID-19 March 20 and on a recurring basis.
  • In collaboration with the Department of Economic Opportunity, survey to be distributed March 20 to local workforce development board leaders requesting information on needs related to Reemployment Assistance processing and other COVID-19 related issues.
  • A mobile-friendly landing page (com/covid-19/ )with links to the Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program managed by DEO in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network, the Florida Business Damage Assessment survey and other state and federal programs as they become available. This resource is to complement existing websites that may not be mobile responsive.
  • CareerSource Florida is adjusting its board-approved outreach budget for digital advertising to direct employers and career seekers, when appropriate, in hardest-hit counties to this landing page, as we did after Hurricane Michael and other recent hurricanes. As the COVID-19 situation evolves, this outreach can quickly be expanded statewide and updated in real time with appropriate messaging depending on programs that may become available.

STATE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM

  • The SUS has directed all state universities to continue remote instruction through the end of the Spring semester.
  • All students who can return home should return home.
  • The SUS has directed that traditional on-campus commencement ceremonies will not be held in May. Instead, each university is directed to develop an alternate schedule or method of delivery.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

  • FDOT continues to coordinate with public use airports, DOH and law enforcement to implement Executive Order 20-80.
  • Staff from the department continues to coordinate with transit agencies across the state to provide updates related to COVID-19.
  • FDOT has provided roadway equipment and is coordinating with other state and local agencies to help ensure mobility around the temporary testing site in Orange County.
  • In accordance with Executive Order 20-71 issued by Governor DeSantis, FDOT has discontinued food services at all of its service plazas. Fuel stations, public restrooms, dog walks and convenience stores will remain open at this time.
  • FDOT has closed its SunPass Customer Service Walk-In Centers located throughout the state, including:
    • Snapper Creek, Milepost 19, Florida Turnpike, Miami
    • Miami, 7902 NW 36th Street, Unit 203, Doral
    • Boca Raton, 7941 Glades Road, Boca Raton
    • Tampa, 10137 E. Adamo Drive, Suite 800A, Tampa
    • Pinellas Bayway Administration Center, 4501 54th Avenue S, St. Petersburg
    • Ocoee Walk-In Center, 9405 W. Colonial Drive, Ocoee
    • Mid-Bay Bridge, 1200 White Point Road, Niceville
    • Garcon Point Bridge, 555 Avalon Boulevard, Milton
  • FDOT is coordinating with USDOT, the Florida Trucking Association, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Florida Highway Patrol to help mitigate the impacts on the transportation and logistics industries.
  • To help keep toll collectors safe and distanced from customers, FDOT is not accepting cash payments for tolls temporarily. Toll collection will be conducted via SunPass or Toll-By-Plate until further notice.
  • FDOT coordinated with transit agencies throughout the state to ensure the safe return of the Florida residents who were quarantined in Georgia and had previously been aboard the Grand Princess voyage outside of California.
  • Pursuant to Executive Order 20-52 issued by Governor DeSantis, FDOT Secretary Thibault has suspended size and weight restrictions for divisible loads on any vehicles transporting emergency equipment, services, supplies, and necessary agricultural commodities on state roads.
  • SunRail trains are being cleaned and sanitized daily andSunRail staff have been provided sanitizing towelettes and encouraged to wash their hands frequently throughout the day.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS’ AFFAIRS

  • Effective March ‎‎11, 2020, FDVA is restricting visitor access to its State Veterans’ Nursing Homes and Domiciliary ‎until further notice, with the exception of essential visitors, such as ‎family members of those residents undergoing end-of-life care. In addition, we are temporarily suspending admissions in our network of state veterans’ homes. Thank you for your understanding.
  • The U.S. ‎Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has also temporarily restricted access to their nursing and ‎community living center facilities to only essential visitors until further notice. 
  • The VA Sunshine Healthcare Network (VISN 8) is taking additional steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 to protect healthcare system’s capabilities, healthcare workers and veterans. Facilities within the VISN 8 Network include the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital and Clinics, Miami VA Healthcare System, North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, Orlando VA Healthcare System, VA Caribbean Healthcare System, and the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center.
  • These actions include: 
    • VISN 8 facilities are transitioning to virtual appointments to the fullest extent to allow veterans to stay at home, avoid exposure to others and reduce their risk; Veterans with appointments will be contacted several days beforehand to discuss virtual appointment options available to them. 
    • Veterans can help with this transition by visiting the VA Video On-Demand webpage for more information: https://mobile.va.gov/content/getting-started-0
    • Veterans enrolled for care within VISN 8 can continue to use the VISN 8 Clinical Contact Center for 24/7 virtual urgent care by calling 1-877-741-3400 (toll free) or by using the VA Health Chat App. Veterans who are concerned they may have symptoms of Coronavirus, flu or cold should contact the center first before coming to a VA facility. 
  • All VA Vet Centers in Florida, which provide readjustment counseling and outreach ‎services to veterans and families, are open and implementing ‎enhanced screening ‎protocols. At this time, veterans may appear in person or opt in advance for an optional ‎phone visit.  ‎
  • ‎The Board of Veterans’ Appeals (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) has suspended Travel Boards until May 1, 2020, due to COVID-19 response efforts. As of March 23, the Board is suspending all video, travel board, and VA Central Office hearings through at least May 1, 2020. 
  • GI Bill Benefits to Continue During COVID-19 Pandemic: President Trump signed into law  3503, March 21, which will enable the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to continue providing the same level of education benefits to students having to take courses online due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The law gives VA temporary authority to continue GI Bill payments uninterrupted in the event of national emergencies, allowing for continued payment of benefits even if the program has changed from resident training to online training. Thanks to the law, GI Bill students will continue receiving the same monthly housing allowance payments they received for resident training until Dec. 21, or until the school resumes in-person classes. Students receiving GI Bill benefitsare not required to take any action. Benefits will continue automatically. VA will work closely with schools to ensure enrollments are accurately certified and processed timely. Students with specific questions can contact the Education Call Center at: 888-442-4551 between 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday-Friday.
  • To contact a VA Homeless Veteran Coordinator in Florida, call toll free 1-800-827-1000.
  • ‎All Honor Flights have been postponed nationwide until May 31, 2020.‎
  • All FDVA and VA facilities remain fully operational.  Visit FloridaVets.orgfor the latest information.

VISIT FLORIDA

  • VISIT FLORIDA is wholly focused on providing health and safety information to travelers and Floridians. This includes the latest updates from state emergency response professionals hosted on VisitFlorida.com.
  • VISIT FLORIDA has launched a new data dashboard available on VisitFlorida.org to track the impact that COVID-19 has had on Florida’s tourism industry.
  • VISIT FLORIDA is planning for future marketing campaigns to ensure that Florida’s tourism industry has a strong, unified voice following COVID-19.
  • To protect the health and safety of the traveling public and staff, VISIT FLORIDA’s four welcome centers will be closed until further notice.
  • VISIT FLORIDA is tracking traveler sentiment across online platforms and social media to monitor how COVID-19 may impact travel and travel booking to Florida. VISIT FLORIDA remains in close contact with industry partners and travel organizations and is communicating all new information as it becomes available.

VOLUNTEER FLORIDA

  • As the lead agency for volunteerism and service, Volunteer Florida is working to support voluntary organizations across the state and nation by pushing resources, surveying needs and requesting that continuity of operations plans be created to avoid any service delivery disruption.
  • Volunteer Florida continues to work with Mass Care on the anticipated need of volunteers and safety guidelines that should be taken to protect volunteers and clients.
  • Volunteer Florida encourages volunteers to screen themselves for COVID-19 (per CDC and Florida Department of Health guidelines) before volunteering/serving.

FLORIDA FISH AND WILDLIFE CONVERSATION COMMISSION

  • FWC law enforcement will assist city and counties with specific closures to beach, marina and boat ramps. 
  • FWC officers are assisting Bay County SO with beach patrol related to social distancing (EO 20-68).
Updated: Tuesday, March 24, 2020
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