JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Lenny Curry urged the residents of Jacksonville on Tuesday to “stand united” and do their part to keep themselves and others safe and healthy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a news conference alongside Sheriff Mike Williams and Fire Chief Keith Powers of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, Curry again continued to stress the importance of social distancing, telling people to work from home if they’re able.
“We are in very serious times. Our country has experienced many significant and serious times over our history," Curry said. “Our kids and our grandkids will look back on this moment in time and judge us by how we as leaders and adults at this moment in time.”
The mayor discussed the decision by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to close all bars and nightclubs for 30 days throughout the state. Additionally, the governor implemented a 50% capacity for all restaurants, asking them to space out their dining rooms with staggered seating.
“Many in our community are going to be economically impacted by this crisis,” Curry said. “We need to be patient, show compassion and work with tenants to provide to prevent future hardship.”
Curry took a moment to clear any confusion about his action to limit large crowds to a maximum of 50 people at recreational and social gathering establishments.
“Let me be clear. If you operate a socially driven business organization, restaurants, churches, gyms, arcades, non-essential shopping, movie theaters, coffee shops, you have a maximum occupancy of 50 people at a time,” Curry said.
The city is working on adding mobile testing for the virus, one of which is being set up outside TIAA Bank Field. That location is sponsored by the federal and state government, and it will handle a large group of people. Details were still being discussed, but it was expected to open by the end of the week.
Curry on Wednesday night said he will make an announcement Thursday morning on “locations and times.”
Duval County residents, I want you to know that access to testing for COVID-19 is just days away. We will make an announcement tomorrow morning on locations and times. Please keep in mind testing is only for the high risk, first responders & those with symptoms. #Flattenthecurve— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) March 19, 2020
Another site is at Ascension St. Vincent’s.
Curry said the city is putting together its own testing site. Officials haven’t said where it will be set up, but it was expected to open in two days.
As of Wednesday, the city was still working on the details of how the mobile testing will be handled at the sites that have yet to be opened.
To some people that spoke with News4Jax, the idea of avoiding hospitals and medical offices for testing sounded appealing.
“It looks pretty efficient and safe. I’m not displaying any symptoms right now, but if I were, that would be the way I would like to be treated,” said Mike Field.
Some people were not worried about contracting the virus.
“No. I’m not a social person,” said Keyada Robinson.
One person who did go though testing and just got word they are clear is City Councilman Randy White. Last week, he visited another council member Sam Newby, who tested positive for the coronavirus and is in isolation at St. Vincent’s hospital. Newby has told News4Jax that he is doing well.
White spoke to News4Jax by phone on Wednesday.
“I really have not really been anxious. I really felt the whole time that I was far enough away and I would be fine, and I don’t worry about things that I can’t change,” White said. “Any symptoms that I’ve had can be related to pollen. I had a little scratchy throat, so I was specifically tested for that reason. I had a little cough, but that’s apparently nothing more than the pollen that’s in the air, they told me. So, I tested negative but I still have to continue the 14 days, which I’m on day five, so, I guess I will be self quarantined nine days.”