(update 5/19/2020 at 9:00 pm)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The State of Florida is responding to COVID-19. In an effort to keep Florida residents and visitors safe and aware regarding the status of the virus, the Florida Department of Health will continue to issue this update every day through Phase 1 of Florida’s reopening plan. Once the state moves into Phase 2, DOH will provide this update once per week. However, DOH will continue to update the COVID-19 dashboard and post the state report daily.

 

Governor Ron DeSantis is in constant communication with Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz and State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees as the State of Florida continues to monitor and respond to the threat of COVID-19.

 

Today, Governor DeSantis held a press conference in the Florida Cabinet Meeting room with Florida Department of Management Services Secretary Jonathan Satter and provided an update on Florida’s reemployment assistance program and the state’s COVID-19 testing efforts.

 

Governor DeSantis announced that to date, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has paid 97.6% of eligible applicants and distributed more than $2.65 billion in reemployment assistance for Floridians. DEO has paid out more in the last 10 weeks, than it has in the last five years combined.

 

The Governor’s presentation is available here.

 

The Governor also announced the state is opening five additional walk-up testing sites in Daytona Beach, North Lauderdale, Miramar, Opa-Locka and Sarasota. These sites will be able to test up to 200 individuals per day.

 

Recent actions the state has taken to respond to COVID-19

  • As part of her Hope for Healing Florida initiative, First Lady Casey DeSantis recently announced that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) will be receiving a $1.9 million emergency grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which will provide crisis counseling and other mental health support for Floridians impacted by COVID-19.
  • More than half of CareerSource Florida’s 24 local workforce development boards are now open by appointment to assist job seekers and businesses with employment needs, especially those dealing with impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • CareerSource Heartland, serving DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands and Okeechobee counties, plans to open by appointment on May 26.
    • Remaining boards will open by June 1, pending receipt of personal protective equipment and completion of safety protocol training to protect customers and employees.
  • The CareerSource Florida network has continued to provide employment and business services virtually, via telephone, by email and by appointment in some locations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • By the numbers, from March 1-May 13:
      • 315,976 job seekers served
      • 14,124 job seekers placed in employment
      • 19,125 businesses served
      • 1,300 job seekers enrolled in training
      • 51,000 new jobs posted
  • The state workforce board and all 24 local workforce development boards are providing paper Reemployment Assistance applications at career centers and printable applications on their websites as well as assisting with CONNECT PIN resets and processing PEGA applications.
  • Governor DeSantis and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Secretary Thibault announced the opening of five new Interstate 4 (I-4)/State Road (S.R.) 408 flyover ramps. This work was completed more than three months ahead of schedule and increases safety and mobility in the heart of Florida.
  • FDOT is leading the coordination of DOH and the Florida Highway Patrol to implement Executive Order 20-86. To date, more than 36,900 traveler forms have been collected at the I-10 and I-95 checkpoints.
  • FDOT continues to coordinate with public use airports, DOH and law enforcement to implement Executive Order 20-80. To date, more than 37,400 traveler forms have been collected at public use airports across the state.
  • Approximately 2,177 Florida National Guardsmen (FLNG) are mobilized to support Florida’s response to COVID-19.
  • FLNG has expanded its support to mobile testing teams and the community-based and walk-up test sites. To date, the FLNG has assisted in the testing of more than 227,000 individuals for the COVID-19 virus.
  • On May 18, Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) Secretary Halsey Beshears presented information on Governor DeSantis’s full phase one reopening plan to the Florida Chamber of Commerce during their local chamber webinar. Secretary Beshears addressed the reopening plan as it pertained to vacation rentals and restaurants.
  • The Florida Department of Elder Affairs’ (DOEA) 11 Areas Agencies on Aging provided over 428,000 meals throughout the state last week, including over 94,000 from the Restaurant Meal Initiative. The weekly meal delivery represents a 223% increase over a week of meals served pre-COVID19.
  • DOEA’s restaurant meal initiative has served 312,850 meals through 83 participating restaurants over the span of one month.

Additional actions the state has taken to respond to COVID-19:

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

  • To date, the Florida Department of Health has reported more than 1,000 contact tracers who are assisting with COVID-19 efforts across the state.
  • DOH announced that the list of long-term care facilities in Florida associated with COVID-19 cases will now include active cases in each facility in order to provide real-time data. The list of long-term care facilities with active COVID-19 cases is available here.
  • DOH is providing a report detailing surveillance data for every Florida county. Previously, this information was only available for select communities. The surveillance data report is available here.
  • At the direction of Governor DeSantis, State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees declared a Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 in Florida.
  • DOH established a public call center for questions regarding COVID-19. The call center launched Monday, March 2, and is open 24/7.
  • DOH established mechanisms for monitoring and coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding epidemiological activities.
  • DOH 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.
  • DOH approved and disseminated an updated Clinician Screening Tool for identifying COVID-19 PUIs.
  • DOH implemented testing at all three State Public Health Laboratories and distributed updated laboratory guidance regarding implementation of testing at State Public Health Laboratories.
  • DOH has worked to implement additional private lab testing.
  • DOH has developed and disseminated pandemic planning guidance.
  • Advised CHDs and HCCs to retain expired personal protective equipment until further notice.
  • DOH is continuing support for long-term care facilities with REST teams. DOH strike teams have completed assessments for 3,874 long term care facilities to determine immediate unmet needs and promote appropriate infection control practices.
  • DOH strike teams are continuing to respond to long term care facilities with COVID-19 positive patients.
  • In an effort to increase testing, Governor DeSantis has directed Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees on an emergency temporary basis to allow licensed pharmacists in Florida to order and administer COVID-19 tests.
  • DOH is working with Florida’s Board of Pharmacy and Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation on mobile pharmacy compliance guidance.

FLORIDA DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

  • To date, the Florida Division of Emergency Management has sent the following PPE to support health care workers and first responders:
    • 26 million masks
    • More than 10.4 million gloves
    • Nearly 1.7 million face shields
    • More than 1.1 million shoe covers
    • More than 465,000 gowns
    • More than 200,000 containers of hand sanitizer
    • Nearly 90,000 goggles
    • 39,000 coveralls
  • For long-term care facilities alone, the Division has sent:
    • More than 10 million masks
    • 1 million gloves
    • More than 500,000 face shields
    • 160,000 gowns
  • The Florida Division of Emergency Management has launched a website to track the mobile lab that is testing long-term care facilities across the state. The mobile lab can test up to 3,500 individuals per week and supports rapid testing, with results available same day. The website is available here.
  • At the direction of Governor DeSantis, the state has established 15 drive-thru and 10 walk-up testing sites across the state, with more coming online. More than 100,000 people have been tested at these sites. Floridians can find a site near them here.
  • Find more information on DEM’s response to COVID-19 here. 

FLORIDA AGENCY FOR HEALTH CARE ADMINISTRATION

  • On May 13, AHCA issued Emergency Order NO. 20-003 providing financial relief to nursing homes and Intermediate Care Facilities during the state’s public health emergency. The emergency order extends the deadlines for March and April 2020 Quality Assessment payments until June 15, 2020 for Intermediate Care Facilities, and June 20, 2020 for nursing homes.
  • The Agency for Health Care Administration issued Emergency Rule 59AER20-2 and Emergency Rule 59AER20-3. These rules require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to grant access to the Florida Department of Health or their authorized representative for the purpose infection prevention and control, including mandated COVID-19 testing of both on-duty and off-duty staff when arranged by the Department.
  • At the direction of Governor DeSantis, AHCA issued Emergency Rule 59AER20-1 on May 5 requiring COVID-19 testing by hospitals of all patients, regardless of symptoms, prior to discharge to long-term care facilities.
  • AHCA sent out an email to nursing homes requiring the transfer of residents with verified or suspected cases if these facilities cannot appropriately isolate and adhere to the CDC recommendations for COVID-19 response.
  • AHCA issued a provider alert announcing additional flexibilities within the Medicaid program made at the direction of Governor DeSantis. Authorization requirements and services limits for medically necessary behavioral health care for are now waived.
  • On April 14, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) issued Emergency Order AHCA 20-002 to temporarily suspend nursing home and Intermediate Care Facility assessment payments for March 2020 to help alleviate financial burdens. This EO suspension aims to alleviate financial burdens incurred at these facilities due to COVID-19.
  • AHCA has created a new temporary Personal Care Attendant program to help long-term care facilities fill staffing shortages. The program provides an 8-hour training on assisting with direct care so that personal care attendants can temporarily perform additional duties.
  • AHCA has been working with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to ensure current Medicaid recipients maintain benefits during the state of emergency. Medicaid application deadlines have also been extended.
  • AHCA has made on-site visits to more than 900 long-term care and residential facilities since the onset of the COVID-19 emergency. Additionally, AHCA has made over 5,000 telephone calls to residential providers statewide to assess infection control and prevention strategies, ensure county health department and local emergency operations center contact information are up to date, and assess supplies (specifically PPE.)
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