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As of 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 15, there were 22,511 cases of COVID-19 in Florida, with 596 deaths. Volusia County had a total of 242 cases, with eight deaths and 53 hospitalizations. Visit www.floridahealthcovid19.gov for the latest figures and to view the state’s full report, which breaks down infections by city.


THE DATES KEEP CHANGING

Whereas earlier this month, the projected peak of the coronavirus pandemic’s new cases in Florida was set for mid-to-late April, a new estimate — based on modeling of the spread of the disease — now puts the peak in early May.

May 3 is now the new possible peak day, according to Dr. Randa Matusiak, a statistician for the county’s Department of Public Protection.

Noting 216 cases had been reported in Volusia County as of April 13, Matusiak is looking for a lessening of the daily increase and a downturn in the spread of coronavirus.

“We hope to see a leveling off,” she told the County Council April 14.

County Manager George Recktenwald said people can alter the predictions.

“The actions that we do can change that projection,” he told the County Council, referring to the preventive steps such as social distancing and hand-washing. “It’s working. … We’re flattening that curve.”

As the coronavirus pandemic continues locally and around the world, Volusia County leaders are already looking ahead to other possible emergency conditions.

“We continue all of our daily planning,” Public Protection Director Joe Pozzo told the County Council. “This is an ever-changing emergency. … Hurricane season is not too far off, and we are developing a sheltering plan, just in case we have that emergency.”


FUNDS FOR FOOD

The County Council appropriated $70,000 for emergency food aid for county residents. Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida received the grant, which will be used to restock the pantries of four organizations: Halifax Urban Ministries, Food Brings Hope, The Neighborhood Center of West Volusia and the Jewish Federation of Volusia & Flagler Counties.


BEACH STILL PARTLY CLOSED

During a Spring Break like no other and in the run-up to the summer beach season, Volusia County’s beaches are open, but not fully. That is, the beach ramps are closed to vehicles, and the off-beach parking lots also remain closed.

The county’s public parks and splash pads are still closed, as well as the restrooms. The county is providing portable outhouses, however.

People may walk and run on the sandy strand; they may also swim, surf and fish.

Lifeguards are on duty, and beach rangers are enforcing social distancing and discouraging the formation of groups of people larger than 10.

What about people who paid for beach-driving privileges?

“We are looking at extending the length of [their] passes,” County Manager George Recktenwald said.

— Al Everson


County to host panel discussion on COVID-19 business assistance

Volusia County will be hosting a panel discussion to provide information to the community about financial assistance that’s available to businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

The time, date and location are as follows:

Time: 10 a.m.

Date: Friday, April 17, 2020

Location: Volusia County Emergency Operations Center, 3825 Tiger Bay Road, Daytona Beach

The panel discussion will be moderated by Volusia County Manager George Recktenwald. Members of the panel are as follows:

Helga van Eckert, Director, Volusia County Economic Development

Thomas Daly, Director, Small Business Development Center at Daytona State College

Robin King, President/CEO, CareerSource Flagler/Volusia

Nancy Keefer, President/CEO, Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce

In addition to a moderated discussion, the panel also will take questions from online viewers. The news media also is welcome to attend and participate in the question-and-answer session during the event, which will be broadcast live on Emergency Management’s Facebook page: facebook.com/VolusiaCountyEmergencyManagement


New mobile-friendly online application to apply for reemployment assistance

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has launched a new, mobile-friendly online application available at FloridaJobs.org/RAApplication. Floridians who do not have a current open Reemployment Assistance claim should complete their application on the new website or download a paper application.

The move is another effort by the state to improve response times in a system swamped by out-of-work people trying to apply for assistance.

In addition, CareerSource locations across the state are available to assist with completing and submitting online applications and are available to provide paper applications.

In West Volusia, CareerSource Flagler-Volusia has an office in the Marketplace Plaza, 846 Saxon Blvd. in Orange City. Hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, and the phone number is 386-561-9550. The agency also has offices in Daytona Beach and Palm Coast.

Visit CareerSourceFlorida.com for other center locations.


Governor extends restrictions on vacation rentals

Gov. Ron DeSantis on April 10 issued an executive order extending restrictions on the rental of “any house, condominium, cooperative, or dwelling unit that is also a transient public lodging establishment … rented for periods of less than 30 days or [one] calendar month, whichever is less; or … advertised or held out to the public as a place regularly rented to guests.”

The original order, issued March 27, prohibited new reservations or bookings of vacation rentals for two weeks. The new order extends that prohibition until at least April 30, at which time DeSantis could extend it further.

Neither order applies to “Hotels, motels, inns, resorts, non-transient public lodging establishments, or time share projects; or [to] long-term rentals.”


Volusia County joins DeLand in ringing bells of thanks

Volusia County Government will join DeLand and other Central Florida communities in ringing bells of thanks to doctors, nurses, health professionals and first responders for their efforts on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19.

County staff will ring the Historic Courthouse chimes for one minute beginning at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 15. They will also ring a bell outside the Thomas C. Kelly Administration Center as the City of DeLand rings the bell atop an antique fire engine outside City Hall.

The City of Eustis came up with the idea, and the City of DeLand led the local effort.

The county has asked churches to do the same and post video on social media with the hashtag #bellsofthanks.


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