JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said during a Monday press conference he was working to strengthen an executive order in an effort to increase the number of people working from home and further limit interactions as the number of new coronavirus cases continue to rise.
Following the conference, which was held using video conferencing technology to maintain social distancing, Curry tweeted that starting Tuesday at 8 a.m, an executive order will direct that anyone who can work from home is mandated to do so. If they do not follow the order, businesses could face fines and citations from the fire marshal, the city said.
The executive order requires employers to let employees work from home IF the job duties they have can be performed at home. https://t.co/wPaS3P5hX2— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) March 23, 2020
“I continue to hear about businesses and employees taking unnecessary risks,” he said. “These irresponsible actions put people and families in our city at risk.”
Curry said he was also working on an element of the order that would say employees not able to work from home would be required to be at least six feet away from other employees.
Curry announced Friday that Duval County’s beaches will be closed until further notice. The same day, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered all restaurants in Florida to shift to takeout and delivery service only and close their dining rooms to patrons. Duval County agencies, businesses and city-owned utility JEA are also making changes to promote social distancing and help halt the spread of the COVID-19.
Curry said Monday there have been talks about a potential curfew in the city, but said the city could face challenges enforcing it because of the strain the pandemic has already put on law enforcement officers.
“Right now, we’re not setting a curfew but are asking you to do the right thing,” Curry said. “If you’re still having to go to work when you come home from work, stay in your home unless it’s essential. If you don’t do this, and we don’t flatten the curve.”
As of Monday afternoon, there were also no plans for a stay-at-home order from Gov. Ron DeSantis like those that have been put in place in other states.
Field hospital coming to Duval
Curry said he has been working with state officials to bring an emergency regional field hospital to Jacksonville.
“Equipment will be staged here and locations of hospitals will be determined as necessary,” Curry said. “At this time, this is a preparation and only a preparation. Our hospitals currently have the capacity. They’re in good shape."
Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Cheif Keith Powers said once up and running, the field hospital will have the capacity to handle about 250 critical ICU patients and will be expandable.
“Currently, we’re just staging it here in town, and right now our hospitals are not at capacity,” Powers said. “And when that determination is made by the Mayor’s office and those hospital leaders that we need to get it up and running, a decision will be made to do that but until then it’s just going to be equipment being staged here.”
Curry said the federal field hospital will be set up starting Tuesday inside the Prime Osborn Convention Center.
Chief Steven Woodard with Jacksonville’s Emergency Preparedness Division said he’s been working with hospitals to help get them desperately needed supplies, including 3,600 N95 masks, 25,000 surgical masks and 400 packages of hand sanitizer.
“We will be quickly distributing those to the facilities who need them most,” Woodard said. “So, we believe we’re going to be able to keep up with this.”
The number of positive tests for COVID-19 in Northeast Florida reached 121 Monday morning as the statewide caseload rose to 1,171.
Fourteen people throughout the state have now died of the disease, including two people in Jacksonville and another in Clay County, according to new data released by the Florida Department of Health.
The latest tally represents an increase of 164 cases over the 1,007 total reported by the health department Sunday evening.
Of the total cases, 121 have been identified in 10 counties across Northeast Florida — Duval (46), Alachua (37), St. Johns (18), Clay (8), Baker (3), Flagler (3), Columbia (2), Putnam (2), Bradford (1) and Nassau (1).
Since opening Lot J as a federal coronavirus testing site on Saturday there have been 565 tests conducted as of 1 p.m. on Monday, Curry said. The drive-thru testing site is now open to all ages of patients, but must have a temperature of at least 99.6 degrees and have respiratory issues.