Florida Emergency Operations Center back open after COVID-19 scare

Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz.
Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz. (News4Jax)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The state’s Emergency Operations Center is back open after being forced to close for several days for cleaning after at least a dozen people tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Now the center is also monitoring newly formed Gonzalo, which is expected to become a hurricane on Thursday.

No one gets into the state emergency center without a temperature check and answering a thorough list of questions.

Everyone is tested twice a week. Yet the virus got in anyway.

News4Jax asked Gov. Ron DeSantis how that could happen.

“Even the best-laid plans, you follow all the screening, and still see sometimes it gets, I mean just think of things like prisons, I mean they’re all locked in there, and you see prison outbreaks,” DeSantis said.

Back open after cleaning and with a potential hurricane on the horizon, the director said his staff is more trained than ever.

They also have a backup if there were a major virus infection at the facility.

“We’ve established contracts with former DEM personnel, FEMA personnel, you know, as we are dealing with COVID, if we end up losing a couple people here because they get it in the community, then we have people that we can bring in to supplement them,” said State Emergency Director Jared Moskowitz.

Under the plan, one group will continue working on nothing but COVID, and a second on just hurricane planning and recovery.

“We can do dual disasters here,” said Moskowitz.

Just over 1,300 national guard troops are already on active duty manning testing sites. That leaves between nine and ten thousand others to respond to any hurricane.

The center is also ground zero for supplying tests and PPE to nursing homes and hospitals across the state, a function that will continue whether a storm is brewing or not.

The state also told us it has lined up more than 350 hotels, which will serve as a place for people to shelter instead of being in cramped schools or churches.

It has been planning how to deal with a hurricane and COVID at the same time since March.