JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Amid the ongoing threat of the new coronavirus, Mayor Lenny Curry on Friday signed a declaration of emergency for Duval County.
The mayor’s decision came just hours after Clay County declared a state of emergency. Earlier in the day, Curry moved to suspend events and gatherings at city facilities in Jacksonville.
Those venues include TIAA Bank Field, VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, the Times Union Performing Arts Center and the Prime Osborn Convention Center.
The mayor also said the Jacksonville Zoo, as well as all libraries and public parks, will close Friday at the end of business.
“In addition, I have ordered city departments to immediately suspend all permits for large gatherings and stop such gatherings at city parks or in city property, through the end of the month,” Curry said during a Friday news conference.
The decision comes after Curry said his team learned of the first patient in Duval County to test positive for COVID-19. It was one of 16 additional cases in Florida.
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Curry revealed on Friday that the patient, an 83-year-old man, was living at a senior living facility on the Southside. He said the first responders that were sent to the facility were not made aware of the situation.
“They had no indication that the patient was possibly infected with COVID-19,” Curry said. “Since the first responders were exposed without personal protective equipment, all five are now in quarantine.”
The Duval County patient is receiving treatment at Memorial Hospital.
Curry said emergency management has been in contact with the senior facility, and that the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department has adjusted its policies to include additional levels of protection for first responders and patients.
“The actions I have taken, and those I will be taking moving forward will be those that are thought most effective by local experts for preventing or slowing the spread COVID-19,” Curry said.
In regard to the Tuesday primary election, Curry said he and his team are working with the Supervisor of Elections Office, and plans to keep voting locations open. He’s encouraging people in Jacksonville to “minimize their in-person transactions at government buildings.”
Chief Keith Powers with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, who appeared at the news conference, said employees were “assessing the situation” at the senior facility.
Curry said public schools in Duval County were planned to be open on Monday, saying school officials are “actively having discussions.” Duval County Public Schools plans to hold a news conference Friday afternoon.
City meetings at City Hall are canceled. News4Jax checked with the courts, and the Courthouse will be open, but jury trials have been suspended.