JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Lenny Curry continued to ramp up efforts to enforce social distancing and identify people in the community who may have contracted coronavirus with the goal of keeping from overwhelming Jacksonville’s medical resources.
“Hope is not a strategy, so we have to plan,” Curry said Tuesday at a news briefing conducted over video conference.
Curry’s executive order that went into place at 8 a.m. requires all employees who can work from home to not report to work and those who do have to work on-premises stay six feet apart. He said he is willing to enforce that order if necessary.
“If I continue to hear that there’s not compliance, I’ll use all the resources available to me, to identify those situations. And, as I said, the power of enforcement is condemnation,” Curry said, saying any business determined to be in violation could have its utilities cut off.
“We don’t want that to happen. Take these actions so we can be safe," he said.
DOCUMENT: View the mayor’s executive order
Curry said he and Sheriff Mike Williams are in touch daily about the need for a curfew but hope people will voluntarily limit travel and gatherings so that doesn’t have to happen.
“Don’t want to have to put a curfew in place and use the Sheriff’s Office’s men and women to enforce that,” Curry said.
Williams said there has been no decrease in crime in recent days.
Williams said there are currently no positive cases among inmates in Duval County’s jail, but added, “We anticipate getting that.”
Williams did say seven corrections offices are quarantined while awaiting test results and about 20 Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office employees are also off the job due to travel or contacts with people who may be sick.
Curry said the city’s call center employees are all working from home and starting Wednesday morning, the lobbies of all city offices will be closed to the public, but they are still available to handle business online or over the phone.
All these actions are to “flatten the curve" and keep the number of people sick and needing treatment to manageable numbers. He added that the hospitals are in good shape for now.
Jacksonville Fire-Rescue said it has not seen a spike in hospital admissions due to COVID-19 at this point, although a field hospital is being set over the next 72-96 hours, just in case there is a surge.
“We’re nowhere near capacity and we monitor that on a daily, hourly basis,” JFRD Chief Keith Powers said.
Over 1,100 people have been tested at one of Jacksonville COVID-19 testing sites so far and Lot J remains open form 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, although there is a 250 cap imposed by health officials.
Curry said he has not been tested because, following CDC advice, he has not had any exposure or symptoms that would require it.
Within minutes of the mayor reiterating his order about working from home, our News4jax Facebook page had dozens of posts like: “My workplace has made no changes to work attendance despite Mayor Curry’s announcement. We even have employees that are still stuck sharing cubicles and I work in a doctor’s office so I have to be here. Thankfully it’s only the doctor and myself and we’re able to do telemedicine visits.”
While the mayor’s order may seem to come as a surprise to some, Jacksonville’s rule is not as restrictive as some other cities. Richard Paige said his ex-wife lives in Boston where it looks like a ghost town.
“No one’s leaving their houses. They’re in fear. It’s spreading rapidly up there. There’s fear in the streets,” Paige said.
Curry said that even though people are encouraged to keep physical distance from others, he encouraged people to stay in contact with family, friends and neighbors. He asked everyone to call someone at 7 p.m. Tuesday and connect catch up on things other than talking about coronavirus.
“If you’re a person of faith, pray for our city. Pray for our people,” Curry said.