Daily Recap COVID-19
Highlands County BCC Public Information
MESSAGE FROM EOC:
Please continue to observe social distancing and wash your hands frequently. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, call your local primary care physician. If you do not have a local primary care physician, call the local Department of Health at 863-386-6060 or Central Florida Health Care at 863-452-3000. Once you have been tested, please self-monitor and self-isolate until you receive your test results.
For general questions about COVID-19, please call 1-866-779-6121 or visit https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/#latest-stats. The call center is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The website is updated twice daily at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.
DISCUSSION AND OUTLOOK:
Highlands County Emergency Management is at a Level 2 Activation with the following Emergency Support Functions (ESF) operating: ESF 14 (Public Information), 16 (Law Enforcement), 18 (Business, Industry and Economic Stabilization) and ESF 8 (Health and Medical) as the lead.
COUNTY OFFICES STATUS:
• The front office of the Highlands County Property Appraiser, 560 S. Commerce Ave., will be closed to the public starting Tuesday, March 24. Citizens are encouraged to conduct business online at hcpao.org. Staff will also be available by phone at 863-402-6659.
• All Florida State Parks, including Highlands Hammock State Park, are closed to the public as of Monday, March 23.
• Effective Monday, March 23, the lobby of the Sebring Police Department, 307 N. Ridgewood Drive, is closed to public access. Sebring PD will continue to accommodate all requests for assistance however, by telephone, walk-up, or special accommodation. Citizens may use the callbox located at the front of the department or call 863-471-5107 (non-emergency) or 911 (for emergencies).
• Effective Tuesday, March 24, the front lobbies at the Town of Lake Placid Government Center, 1069 U.S. 27, and the Lake Placid Police Department, 8 N. Oak Ave., will be closed to the public. Staff at both locations will still be available by phone – 863-699-3747 and 863-699-3757, respectively.
• The Spring Lake Improvement District lobby is closed to the public and only the drive-thru window is available for paying utility bills and conducting other business.
• All public libraries are closed to the public.
• Veteran Services office is closed to the public.
• Human Services office is closed to the public.
• Children’s Advocacy Center is closed to the public.
• Healthy Families Program office is closed to the public.
• Road & Bridge front lobby is closed to the public.
• The Highlands County Courthouse is open to conduct essential proceedings, which include domestic violence filings, injunction for protection orders, Baker Acts, Marchman Acts, and risk protection orders.
• The Avon Park and Lake Placid branch offices for the Highlands County Tax Collector will be closed effective Monday, March 23. The Sebring office, 540 S. Commerce Ave., will be open during normal business hours with limited staff. Citizens are strongly urged to conduct business online or via the drive-thru at the Sebring location.
• All School Board of Highlands County schools are closed. Virtual instruction will begin Monday, March 30 and campuses will reopen Wednesday, April 15.
• South Florida State College will be extending spring break for students for one week through Sunday, March 29. All classes will be conducted online for the remainder of the spring term.
• To limit potential exposure to officers, staff, and community, the Lake Placid Police Department will be temporarily changing services. Officers will begin taking non-emergency calls for service by phone. They will still respond to ALL emergencies and will still be patrolling neighborhoods and businesses.
• The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office asks any victims of certain crimes, such as lost property, identity theft, telephone harassment and scams, vehicle burglaries or criminal mischief that are not in progress to use its online reporting system at highlandssheriff.org under the home tab and on its smartphone app. Non-emergency calls will be handled by telephone calls from deputies rather than in person. Video visitation with inmates at the Highlands County Jail are possible.
• The City of Sebring city parks are still open for recreation. Events are no longer being scheduled at the Jack Stroup Civic Center. Beginning Monday, City Hall doors will be locked, and the public will be admitted once city officials determine which department and/or location they are seeking.
• The City of Avon Park declared a State of Emergency Friday, March 20. All the events at the Community Center have been canceled until the end of April.
• Lake June Beach and boat ramp in the Town of Lake Placid is closed to the public.
CLOSURES IN COUNTY:
• Effective 5 p.m. Monday, March 23, Lakeshore Mall is closed until further notice.
DECLARATIONS/STATE EXECUTIVE ORDERS:
• Public Health Emergency declared for the State of Florida [Executive Order Number 20-51] 3/1/2020
• State of Emergency declared for the State of Florida [Executive Order Number 20-52] 3/9/2020.
• Federal Disaster Declaration issued by President Donald J. Trump, pursuant to Section 501(b) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. 3/13/2020
• Local State of Emergency declared for Highlands County. 3/17/2020
• City of Avon Park declared a State of Emergency. 3/20/2020
• Executive Order 20-71 suspends sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises and selling of alcohol for consumption off premise unless accompanied by the sale of food within same order. 3/20/2020
• Executive Order 20-72 prohibiting medically unnecessary or nonemergency procedures. 3/20/2020
Highlands County is currently operating under a state of local emergency. Emergency Management remains at a Level 2 Activation and continues working with the Florida Department of Health Highlands County, local partners, and the Florida Division of Emergency Management. All updates will be sent out as they become available.
• At the 11 a.m. update on 3/23/2020, Highlands County has two confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. That is still accurate as of the 6 p.m. update on 3/23/2020.
• The School Board of Highlands County is providing no-cost meals through a drive-thru service at all elementary, middle and high school locations to all children 18 and under and ESE students under 22. Meal service starts on Monday, March 23 through the duration of the school closure. Meals will be served from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Two meals will be provided together: lunch for the current day and breakfast for the following day. Children do not need their school ID but must be present at pick up. Children may “walk up” to receive a meal.
• The Board of County Commissioners has scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 9 a.m. More information will be provided in a future recap.
• As of 6 p.m. 3/23/2020 Highlands County is still waiting for the state health department to update the dashboard to show the number of actual tests that have been conducted in the county.
• At the 11 a.m. update on 3/21/2020, the Florida Department of Health dashboard displayed an error that reflected one positive case in Highlands County when the community DID NOT have a positive case. The state health official requested an updated press release with the explanation for the error. As of the 6 p.m. update on 3/21/2020, the error on the dashboard was corrected and Highlands County was showing with ZERO cases. As of the 6 p.m. update on 3/23/2020, the press release regarding the 3/21/2020 11 a.m. error has not been sent. As soon it is received, it will be shared with the public.