State of Florida update

Today, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-85, directing the Department of Management Services (DMS) to ensure all state employees have access to telehealth services through the state’s contracted HMO plans and PPO organization plan without cost sharing, while also ensuring that all cost sharing that would have been applicable to state employees seeking immunization services under this Executive Order for the influenza vaccination be waived.

Actions the state has taken to respond to COVID-19:

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

• At the direction of Governor DeSantis, State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees declared a Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 in Florida.
• Governor DeSantis announced that the State ordered an additional 2,500 test kits to supplement the adequate resources already available to test for COVID-19. These additional test kits will enable the Department of Health, working with Florida health care providers, to test up to an additional 625,000 individuals. The Governor also suspended non-essential in state and all out-of-state travel for state employees for 30 days.
• Established an Incident Management Team to coordinate response operations.
• Defined a high-level phased response strategy for COVID-19.
• Activated a dedicated incident command post for on-site response activities.
• Conducted three public health and health care stakeholder conference calls to provide statewide updates on the current outbreak situation, response actions and guidance for pandemic planning. Over five hundred participants joined the calls.
• Established a public call center for questions regarding COVID-19. The call center launched Monday, March 2 and is open 24/7.
• Developed and distributed COVID-19 presentation materials to County Health Departments (CHD) for use at community meetings.
• Activated the Joint Information Center in coordination with the Division of Emergency Management.
• Developed and implemented protocols for investigation, surveillance and monitoring for COVID-19 to rapidly detect and contain cases.
• Established mechanisms for monitoring and coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding epidemiological activities.
• Distributed CDC Interim Guidance for public health personnel evaluating Persons Under Investigation (PUI) and asymptomatic close contacts of confirmed cases at their home or non-home residential settings to CHDs.
• Approved and disseminated an updated Clinician Screening Tool for identifying COVID-19 PUIs.
• Implemented testing at all three State Public Health Laboratories.
• Distributed updated CDC guidance for schools to CHDs and the Department of Education.
• Distributed updated laboratory guidance regarding implementation of testing at State Public Health Laboratories.
• Developing a laboratory surge plan.
• Identifying and monitoring close contacts of presumptive cases. Any close contacts with symptoms will be tested.
• Implemented private lab testing.
• Developed and disseminated pandemic planning guidance.
• Advised CHDs and HCCs to retain expired personal protective equipment until further until further notice.
• Developing infographics for first responders (fire, law enforcement and EMS) regarding infection control and personal protection for COVID-19.
• At the Governor’s direction, a public-private partnership has been put in place between Memorial Healthcare in Broward and the National Guard to set up a mobile testing unit.
• At the direction of Governor DeSantis hiring additional epidemiologists from university health programs to help with workload.
• Governor DeSantis directed the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to extend all existing nursing home and assisted living facility licenses for 90 days to remove distraction from patient care.
• Launched an interactive data tracking dashboard on floridahealthcovid19.gov that is updated twice daily.
• Developing protocols for County Health Departments in the protection of their staff and clinic activities through the development of safety and health guidance.
• Continue to have daily hospital calls and began having daily calls with the aging and vulnerable population groups.
• Continue to coordinate efforts for obtaining lab testing supplies.

DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

  • To support communities responding to COVID-19, Governor DeSantis has directed FDEM Director Jared Moskowitz to expedite the delivery of more than $170 million in Hurricane Irma reimbursements to cities, counties and hospital districts that have now reached the 50-percent auditing threshold to receive funds.
  • After conducting a thorough assessment of needs, Director Moskowitz has requested the following supplies through Direct Federal Assistance. Supplies are being delivered on a rolling basis, and inventory is being distributed throughout the state 24 hours a day.
    • 5 mobile intensive care units
    • 5,000 ventilators
    • 5,000 hospital beds
    • 50,000 two oz. bottles of hand sanitizer
    • 250,000 coveralls
    • 500,000 gloves
    • 500,000 gowns
    • 500,000 collection kits
    • 100,000 16 oz. bottles of hand sanitizers
    • 150,000 Personal Protective Equipment kits, including coveralls, gowns, and goggles
    • 2 million N95 face masks
  • Find more information on DEM’s response to COVID-19 here.

AGENCY FOR HEALTH CARE ADMINISTRATION

  • AHCA expanded its event on the Emergency Status System (ESS) requesting hospitals to enter information on Personal Protective Equipment and ventilator counts. The ESS continues to track census information, emergency room status updates, isolation beds, and nursing home and assisted living facility bed capacity.
  • AHCA and the Department issued guidance for Senior Living Communities (independent living) on COVID-19 best practices, advising facilities to cease communal activities, practice social distancing and restrict community outings.
  • AHCA distributed telemedicine guidance to health care providers for behavior analysis services.
  • AHCA distributed an overview to iBudget providers of the revised payment methodology that will be used over the next few months to help support providers of adult day training, residential habilitation, life skills development level 1-companion and in-home personal supports. Retention payments will be made to give necessary financial support to providers who would otherwise not receive payment due to current public distancing requirements.
  • Secretary Mayhew is working directly with hospitals and large health systems to identify potential vacant wings or buildings to provide additional hospital inpatient capacity should it become necessary.
  • On March 16, Florida became the first state to receive CMS approval of its 1135 Medicaid Waiver giving AHCA more flexibility for its COVID-19 response efforts. This federal action lifts Medicaid prior authorization requirements for critical health care services and allows for expedited provider enrollment.
  • AHCA will be granting a 90-day extension to all licenses for health care providers and regulated facilities.
  • AHCA is distributing information regarding regulatory flexibilities created by waivers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) related to skilled nursing facilities, critical access hospitals, home health agencies, durable medical equipment, provider enrollment, etc.
  • Find more information on ACHA’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL REGULATION

  • DBPR has partnered with Florida Department of Elder Affairs and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) to assist in the coordination of restaurants to meet the needs of the elderly with meal delivery services.
  • Find more information on DBPR’s response to COVID-19 here.

DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

  • DCF is working with DOH to develop precautionary protocols for child welfare professionals and adult protective investigators who may have to make in-person visits to ensure the safety of those vulnerable populations.
  • Find more information on DCF’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

  • FDC is aligning operations with the CDC Interim Guidance on Management of COVID-19 in Correctional and Detention Facilities.
  • New inmate commitments from county jails have been temporarily restricted.
  • Anyone entering a correctional institution will be screened in accordance with CDC and Department guidelines.
  • FDC has suspended visitation and volunteer programs at all correctional institutions statewide through April 5, 2020.
  • All non-critical inmate transfers have been suspended.
  • Outside inmate work squads have been restricted.
  • Find more information on FDC’s response to COVID-19 here.

DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

  • Florida’s 24 local workforce development boards are available to provide career and business services remotely, with services and technology varying by location.  For more information, visit careersourceflorida.com.
  • Governor DeSantis’ request to the federal U.S. Small Business Administration to make the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program available for Florida’s small businesses impacted by COVID-19 has been granted. Small businesses are eligible to apply for the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans that offer up to $2 million in economic assistance to help small businesses overcome the temporary loss of revenue resulting from COVID-19.
  • Governor DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The bridge loan program, managed by DEO, provides short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced economic injury from COVID-19. The application period is open and runs through May 8, 2020. Interested businesses should visit www.FloridaDisaster.Biz for more information.
  • The Business Damage Assessment survey is activated to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s local business operations. The survey, managed by DEO, will evaluate businesses affected by COVID-19 and the impacts the virus has had on the local economy so actions to implement appropriate relief programs can begin. The survey can be taken online here.
  • Find more information on DEO’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

  • DOE created a website that consolidates hundreds of free resources for teachers, parents, and students as they transition to distance learning. It includes best practices for distance learning, frequently asked questions, guidance from the department, and resources in Spanish. It can be found here.
  • Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran strongly recommended public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and career and technical center campuses to close through April 15 and institute distance learning by March 30.
  • To support students with identified IEP-related services who may have a disruption in services, school districts are given flexibility for the remainder of the school year to provide alternative services or delay services until later in the summer months, in coordination with a student’s parents and IEP team.
  • Find more information on The Department of Education’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ELDER AFFAIRS

  • DOEA Secretary Richard Prudom announced a partnership with DBPR and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) that allows the needs of the business community and workers in the restaurant business to be matched with the needs of the elderly and meal delivery services.
  • DOEA is working with the 11 Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) regarding meal procurement, distribution, telephone reassurance, and feeding elders not currently enrolled in food programs.
  • Find more information on DOEA’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

  • At the direction of Governor DeSantis and to successfully upho