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More are being tested

Volusia County Health Department Administrator Patricia Boswell said the county logged 338 cases of coronavirus between March 1 and April 19. As of April 21, that number had increased to 366.

The number will likely continue to increase, as testing continues. The rate of increase in the numbers of new cases may lessen, as people take steps — notably hand-washing, staying at home, and social distancing — to counter the spread of the disease.

“We have about 5,500 tests that were done in Volusia County,” Boswell added.

Approximately 600 of those tests are the work of Family Health Source, which has set up test sites in Deltona, DeLand and Daytona Beach.

In addition to setting up a testing center at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, AdventHealth has also opened a drive-thru testing site at the Seminole Towne Center mall in Sanford.

Cautious optimism

The numbers of fresh daily cases of coronavirus throughout the state are decreasing.

“When you look at Florida’s new cases per day, … we can see some reason for optimism,” Dr. Randa Matusiak said. “We can see a very slight and slow decline.”

Matusiak works in the county’s Department of Public Protection.

One recent spike in cases in Volusia County was at the Tomoka Correctional Institution, where 47 new cases were recorded on one day.

On the upside, Deputy County Manager Suzanne Konchan said the county has had zero employees and zero jail inmates who have tested positive.

Nursing-home report

The Volusia County Health Department is carefully watching one of the most vulnerable sectors of the population: the elderly in nursing homes, adult-care homes and assisted-living facilities.

“We have 140 facilities,” Health Department Administrator Patricia Boswell said, adding her staff contacts each of them every 48 hours to find out if any of their residents or staff members are showing COVID-19 symptoms.

If the symptoms appear, the agency “does an assessment and an epidemiological investigation,” she added.

In the course of its contacts with the senior-living centers, the Health Department also inquires about their needs for personal protective equipment.

“We have a shortage of many supplies,” County Chair Ed Kelley said.

Boswell said the Health Department is “trying to meet the need with what’s available.” The principal PPE items still in short supply, Boswell noted, are surgical masks and N95 masks.

County Council: People need more information

County leaders say their constituents are demanding more information about coronavirus and its local effects, and they want the county government to take the lead in informing them and the public.

“I’m just really concerned that we’re having to rely on The [Daytona Beach] News-Journal,” Council Member Barbara Girtman said.

Council Member Heather Post called for more direct communications with the public.

“When we’re talking about press conferences, that’s a great way to get information out,” she said. “While there’s a lot of people on social media, there are a lot of people that are not.”

“We should be putting out that information daily,” Post said. “We need to get on that ASAP.”

County Chair Ed Kelley agreed.

“I’d be happy to do it every day, if you want,” he said, but quickly walked back with a suggestion for press conferences “twice a week.”

“We’re not getting all the information out to the people. That’s the bottom line,” Kelley added.

The County Council asked Interim Community Information Director Kevin Captain to ramp up his office’s efforts to get coronavirus information out to everyone, including those in “underserved” communities, where internet access may not be common.

Captain and his staff have disseminated information to print and electronic outlets, as well as through social media.

A county panel discussion on the disease’s effects on businesses, broadcast live and archived on the county government’s website, www.volusia.org. logged some 19,000 views.

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