Alarmed by a sharp rise in new cases of COVID-19, Volusia County officials are kicking off a new campaign to stop the spread.
To help businesses operate or reopen more safely, the county is offering, free of charge, personal protective equipment — masks, gloves, gowns — to Volusia County businesses at various locations over the next few days.
The first such distribution will be 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday, July 9, at The Center at Deltona, 1640 Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd. The following day, July 10, during the same hours, county officials will hand out PPE for local businesses at the Wayne G. Sanborn Activity & Event Center, 815 S. Alabama Ave. in DeLand.
In addition, the county’s Public Protection Department will hand out 50,000 “CARE packages” to people in need of such items as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, surface cleaner, facial tissue, antibacterial soap and bilingual information about the coronavirus and how to combat it.
— Al Everson
“We’re trying to promote safety,” Community Information Director Kevin Captain told the County Council June 30, as he briefed the governing body on the latest initiative.
A dramatic upward trend in positive cases began showing up in the latter half of June, threatening to undo or undermine the progress in fighting the pandemic earlier in the spring.
The new public-service advertising blitz, called Step Up Volusia, has a three-pronged message: Wash up. Back up. Mask up.
— Wash up refers to frequent hand-washing.
— Back up refers to keeping at least 6 feet away from others.
— Mask up means donning a face-covering in buildings or in places where other people may be close by.
Captain said the campaign will include billboards, posters, notices and messages on social media, as well as on the county government’s website, www.volusia.org.
As well as putting out the reminders, the county will focus on disseminating information about testing sites, times and payments expected, if any.
“Can we get a correct updated list of testing locations?” Council Member Deborah Denys asked. “We need to get real-time information to our citizens.”
While some of the increase in new cases comes as more and more Volusians show up to be tested, the county’s rate of those tested who are positive for COVID has also risen.
Tests have become very popular.
“We’ve watched that demand go through the roof,” Volusia County Health Department Administrator Patricia Boswell said.
Boswell noted the “positivity rate” for those tested is about 8.7 percent.
Council Member Billie Wheeler said the disease has affected her own family, noting her 21-year-old granddaughter had tested positive for COVID-19. Wheeler called for clear and concise information about the availability and whereabouts of testing.
“We want everybody to get tested, but we’re not getting the information out,” she said.
Captain said he and his staff are posting the latest information about testing at www.volusia.org. Checking for the latest information is a must.
“Sites are opening up. Sites are closing,” Captain said. “We update it every day.”