The front line of COVID-19

*This information is current as of press time, Tuesday, March 17

The number of COVID-19 cases in the state of Florida hit 173 with six deaths attributed to the disease. The county with the highest number of cases is Broward with 43, and Dade following closely with 32. Santa Rosa has had only one case reported, a gentleman who returned from a river cruise in Egypt who later died.

When the first case in Santa Rosa was announced, the Santa Rosa County Emergency Operations Center opened. The director, Brad Baker, says they are preparing.

“The virus is spreading, it will get here,” Baker said in an interview with Navarre Press Monday. “We are doing weekly calls with all first responders keeping them informed and addressing their concerns.”

Do they have enough equipment? For now, Baker says. “We are tracking the usage and quantities of our personal protection equipment and keeping the state informed of what we have.”

There is a reserve, but they have already tapped into it. When they reach critical levels, they will let the state know.

Holley Navarre Fire District Chief Ron Norton sent out memos to the staff to reduce and prevent exposures. The equipment and trucks will go through decontamination. He has also limited access to the station.

Norton says his crews have the supplies they need to prevent contamination, but if the number of cases get worse, they will need more.

Rich Aloy, public information officer for the Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office said they, too, are prepared. “The deputies have plenty of equipment in their vehicles.”

Aloy said the deputies have always practiced universal precautions because at any given time they could encounter someone with a communicable disease. The preparation is nothing new.

At the jail, they began screening everyone on intake a month ago. If there is someone experiencing symptoms of flu or COVID-19, they are placed in a neutral air room to prevent any spread.

“Every case is different, and we follow the recommendations of the health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Aloy said.

“The number of cases will increase because we are testing now,” Baker said. “It is so important for people to take personal responsibility seriously to prevent the spread.”

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