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As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 1, state officials were tracking 6,741 cases of COVID-19 in Florida, 6,490 of which were Florida residents. The number of cases in Volusia County stood at 80. A total of 858 people had been tested for the virus in Volusia County.


Ocean Center serves as distribution hub for equipment in coronavirus fight

In normal times, it plays host to dozens of trade shows, conferences, concerts, competitions and sporting events.

But these aren’t normal times. Volusia County’s Ocean Center is now a central distribution hub for a critical supply chain that’s responsible for getting life-saving equipment to local workers on the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus.

Approximately 94,000-square-feet of warehouse space at the convention center has been converted into a temporary staging area for critically-needed personal protective gear such as masks, gowns, gloves and face shields. Volusia County Emergency Management procured the materials through the Florida Division of Emergency Management to fulfill requests from local agencies.

Pallets of supplies are being shipped here and then sorted and inventoried by county staff in public protection, corrections and emergency management and readied for distribution to first responders and area hospitals, healthcare facilities, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The goal is to fill up the temporary warehouse space as much and as fast as possible and then get the equipment to where it’s needed just as fast. Agencies will be contacted Monday, March 30, to start picking up their supplies.

“Our processes are working very quickly. We get it in as quickly as we can, and we get it out as quickly as we can,” said Mark Swanson, Volusia County’s deputy director of public protection. “We know that the agencies out there need these supplies. So we’re working very diligently to get those out.”

Establishing a large hub for staging equipment is the best and most efficient way to coordinate the massive effort to get supplies to where they’re needed most, according to Volusia County Emergency Management Director Jim Judge.

“Having one central and secure point for deliveries and distribution for the entire county saves on time and potential for duplication of efforts,” said Judge. “The Ocean Center is the perfect location for all logistical activities.”

A video of county staff sorting materials at the Ocean Center can be viewed here:

www.facebook.com/VolusiaCountyEmergencyManagement/videos/588151331774606/

— Gary Davidson, Volusia County Community Information


City of DeBary reacts to coronavirus pandemic

In light of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the City of DeBary has closed its playgrounds and has cancelled or postponed the activities below. Our parks will remain open at this time.

In addition, the City Council meeting slated for April 1 will move to April 8, with social distancing guidelines put into place.

Several recreational activities have been suspended or cancelled:

  • Flag Football and Cheer Clinics (Ages 3-5): Cancelled. Partial refunds to be given.
  • Flag Football and Cheer League (Ages 6-14): Postponed. Planned to resume after April 13 on a shortened season. Any further suspensions will cancel the season. If cancelled, partial refunds will be given.
  • Adult Kickball: Postponed. Playoffs planned for 4/17 and 4/24. Any further suspensions will cancel the playoffs.
  • DeBary Babe Ruth Baseball and Softball: Season postponed until further notice.
  • Soccer Academy Clinics: Suspended until further notice.
  • Jazzercise: Suspended until further notice.
  • Line Dancing: Suspended until further notice.
  • Children’s Yoga: Suspended until further notice.

— Shari Simmans, Public Information Officer


Winn-Dixie updates virus policy

Starting March 27, according to an email sent to customers, Winn-Dixie has begun proactively implementing additional safety measures in all its stores:

To protect against the spread of COVID-19, Winn-Dixie will be installing Plexiglas partitions between customers and associates at store registers, customer-service desks, pharmacies and liquor store counters.

Installation is currently underway and will continue through Friday, April 3.

Publix Super Markets also began installing clear partitions between customers and associates in its stores March 27. [See pics in PUBLIX PARTITIONS in All Photos — photos taken at a Lakeland Publix store.]

All Winn-Dixie stores will also initiate a two-cart-length distance between customers at checkout by utilizing floor markers to encourage and maintain social distancing.

In addition, Winn-Dixie said it will adhere to stricter store occupancy regulations to further safeguard customers and associates.

Beginning March 30, Winn-Dixie grocery stores will extend shopping hours on Monday and Tuesday to add a special shopping hour from 8 to 9 p.m. dedicated to health care providers and first responders. And Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana Winn-Dixie stores will be open weekdays from 7 to 8 a.m.

As of March 23, all Winn-Dixie stores began closing at 8 p.m. to give associates the time needed to restock and ensure stores are able to conduct additional sanitation procedures.


Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia/Flagler Counties take measures

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia/Flagler Counties are taking measures to navigate the COVID-19 crisis.

Chief Professional Officer Joe Sullivan sent out an emailed release March 27 in which he said the club has spent the past few weeks listening to club members and their families, community partners, law enforcement, and the Volusia and Flagler county school systems to understand how to best respond and fill the gaps in services provided within the two counties.

“We understand that amid this crisis, those who rely on the services provided by Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia/Flagler Counties are facing even more trauma than most. In addition to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, their entire world has been turned upside down — no school, no extracurricular activities, limited access to nutritious meals, and social isolation from the youth-development professionals who support them.

“In response to community needs, we are proud to offer the following services:

· Distance Mentoring

· Virtual Club Case Management

· Educational Videos

· Bi-Weekly Newsletters

“We understand that in this environment things remain fluid,” Sullivan said in the email. “We are continuously assessing our services to ensure we are meeting the needs of the community in the most effective way. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to heal our community and do what we do best, serving our at-risk youth and ensuring their future success as caring, productive, and responsible citizens.”

 Volusia landfill, transfer station only accepting credit cards

Due to the coronavirus, effective March 30, the Tomoka Farms Road Landfill and the West Volusia Transfer Station will no longer accept cash payments. Customers must use a credit card to complete their transactions. Both facilities accept Visa and Mastercard. There is no change to established account customers.

Remember to practice social distancing while interacting with the staff.

Both facilities are open normal operating hours. The Tomoka Farms Road Landfill is open 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday. The West Volusia Transfer Station is open 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.


Governor issues more executive orders

Gov. Ron DeSantis issued two more executive orders March 27, one expanding quarantines on visitors who drive into the state and another putting a stop on vacation rentals.

The quarantine order now requires visitors from areas having evidence of “substantial community spread, to include the State of Louisiana,” driving into Florida “to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into the State of Florida or the duration of the person’s presence in the State of Florida, whichever is shorter.”

Anyone self-quarantining must do so at his or her own expense, the order says.

The order does not apply “to persons performing military, emergency, health or infrastructure response, or persons involved in any commercial activity,” such as truckers.

DeSantis also directed the establishment of “appropriate checkpoints” on roads coming into the state, with incoming visitors required “to provide information, including in a written form, regarding the origin of their travel and on the address of their location of isolation or quarantine” while they are here.

The checkpoints will be staffed by the Florida Highway Patrol and local sheriff’s offices, according to multiple news outlets.

DeSantis had previously imposed self-isolation on airline passengers arriving from the greater New York City area.

The second executive order says all vacation rental operators “are prohibited from making new reservations or bookings and shall not accept new guests for check-in for the duration of this order.”

The order applies to a “house, condominium, cooperative, or dwelling unit that is also a transient public lodging establishment” that is rented for one month or less. It does not apply to hotels, motels, inns, resorts, non-transient public lodging establishments, time-share projects, or long-term rentals.

Current guests of vacation rentals, or guests who previously booked stays who arrived by March 28, are exempt, as are “persons performing military, emergency, governmental, health or infrastructure response, or travelers engaged in non-vacation commercial activities.”

The order stipulates enforcement will be done by the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which “shall revoke the vacation rental license of any party that violates this order or otherwise advertises vacation rental opportunities during the duration of this order.”

The vacation rental order will be in effect until April 10 unless it’s extended by the governor.


Tax deadline extended

Thanks to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, property owners have a little while longer to pay their 2019 ad valorem taxes. The new deadline for paying the property taxes levied by county and municipal governments, school taxes, hospital taxes and other special districts or agencies, as well as special assessments for such services as trash collection and stormwater control, is April 15.

Property taxes normally must be paid no later than March 31, to avoid penalties for late payment and interest.


Deltona City Commission plans to meet

While many public activities and events have been canceled due to the coronavirus crisis, Deltona Mayor Heidi Herzberg says the City Commission will convene in regular session Monday, April 6.

Herzberg added that the members of the commission will give up their places on the dais and maintain social distancing by sitting at tables to be set up on the floor of the meeting chambers. She also said the public — including the media — will not be allowed to attend the meeting. Those wishing to see their elected officials in action may watch the meeting via live streaming on the City of Deltona’s website, www.deltonafl.gov.

The City Commission is slated to begin its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. April 6 at Deltona City Hall, 2345 Providence Blvd.


DeLand closes playgrounds

To prevent further spread of COVID-19, the City of DeLand is closing all playgrounds until further notice.

Effective immediately, playgrounds that will be closed include:

  • Freedom Playground at Bill Dreggors Park, 230 North Stone Street
  • Candlelight Oaks Playground, 813 Longview Avenue
  • Chisholm Playground, 520 South Clara Avenue
  • Playground and Skate Park at Earl Brown Park, 600 block of South Alabama Avenue
  • Playground at Tra Thomas Park, 200 block of South Frankfort Avenue
  • Playground at Highland Park, Corner of South Stone and Highland Street
  • Playground at Jackson Lane Memorial Park, 720 South Frankfort Avenue

Additionally, all lighted sports facilities such as basketball and tennis courts will be restricted to daytime use only. We also highly discourage people from gathering in groups at those facilities in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Other amenities such as walking paths will remain open, however, residents should continue to practice social distancing and avoid gathering in large groups.


Volusia County boat ramps remain open

All 14 boat ramps maintained by Volusia County Government — more than half of which are in West Volusia County — remain open to the public.

The West Volusia ramps are: Shell Harbor Park, Pierson; Candace R. Strawn – Lake Dias Boat Ramp, DeLeon Springs; Blue Lake Boat Ramp, DeLand; Cypress Lake Park, DeLand; Ed Stone Park, DeLand; Highbanks Boat Ramp, DeBary; Lake Monroe Park, DeBary; Lemon Bluff Boat Ramp, Osteen; and Mariner’s Cove Park, Enterprise.

However, the Volusia Sheriff’s Office is monitoring the ramps and boater gathering sites for crowds and congestion. The boat ramps will be closed if crowd control and social distancing measures are not followed.

Boaters are encouraged to avoid Disappearing Island and other sand bars that attract crowds.

“Feel free to fish, explore and enjoy the outdoors – at a safe distance from others,” noted County Manager George Recktenwald. “If boaters continue to gather in large groups, we will be forced to close our boat ramps.”

All persons should follow the CDC’s guidelines for social distancing, which call for maintaining a distance of six feet from others and avoiding group settings and mass gatherings.


Volusia County Revenue Division moves to appointment-only service

To help reduce the spread of the coronavirus, all four Volusia County Revenue Division offices will begin serving clients by appointment only beginning Friday, March 27. To schedule an appointment, call 386-254-4610.

Revenue staff will remain available to assist residents by phone and email from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For tag and title questions, call 386-254-4610. For all other questions, call 386-736-5938.

Rather than coming to a Revenue Division office, residents are encouraged to conduct any business online. To facilitate online activity, the Revenue Division is temporarily waiving the third-party fee for online payments made by e-check.

Services available online include: Paying property taxes; renewing vehicle registrations; applying for and paying for business tax receipts; and filing and paying tourist and convention development taxes

For a full list of services, frequently asked questions, office locations, and helpful web links, visit Volusia.org/revenue.

— Volusia County Community Information


Council on Aging changes services

The Council on Aging in Volusia County has temporarily suspended all activities at its service centers. Meals for pick-up or home delivery will still be available, and other COA services will continue as planned, according to a notice on coavolusia.org/.

COA operates a senior center and neighborhood dining site at The Center at Deltona, 1640 Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd.; a neighborhood dining site at Tomoka Christian Church, 1101 E. Plymouth Ave. in DeLand; a senior center at 200 N.. Holly Ave. in Orange City; and a neighborhood dining site at 1st Congregational Church, 259 W. University Ave., also in Orange City

COA’s dining sites will distribute prepared meals to clients who are able to pick them up, or temporarily switch those who cannot to the COA’s Meals on Wheels program for home delivery.

Call COA at 386-253-4700, extensions 244, 248 or 204, for further information.

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