Nassau COVID-19 rate lower than state average


Nassau County appears to be performing slightly better than other counties in the state in its reported cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus that has swept the world.

During Wednesday’s special meeting of the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners, Mary Von Mohr, Community Health & Performance Improvement Division director at the Florida Department of Health – Nassau, shared an update with commissioners.

Von Mohr said Nassau County has a total of 2,457 reported cases, of which 2,277 involve Nassau County residents. The past week’s positive rate was 5.53% of those tested, slightly below the statewide average of 6.31%.

She also noted it was the 75th consecutive day Florida has been below 10% positivity.

“We have had two additional deaths added over the past week, which brings us currently to 51 deaths from COVID,” she said.

Von Mohr said three residents are hospitalized at Baptist Medical Center Nassau, and none of those residents are in the ICU or on a ventilator.

Von Mohr said the health department will provide testing Nov. 5, 12 and 19 at Journey Church, 95707 Amelia Concourse in Fernandina Beach, and Nov. 14 at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, 1200 Elm St. in Fernandina Beach. A Callahan testing location is being planned for Nov. 16, but a site has not been finalized.

“The key messaging for us moving forward really is to get your flu vaccination before Halloween if possible and to just plan for safer fall celebrations, including of course – we have Halloween coming up and then as well Thanksgiving,” Von Mohr said. “Large gatherings – lessons learned include that at private gatherings people need to wear masks, limit crowding, avoid prolonged exposure in close contact, wash your hands and disinfect those common areas.”

Nassau County Emergency Management Director Greg Foster told commissioners that area firefighters and law enforcement officials should soon have the option of receiving antibody tests.

In other business, county commissioners:

• Agreed to schedule a 4:30 p.m. Nov. 4 special “shade” meeting to discuss a lawsuit filed against County Attorney Mike Mullin and the county by Rayonier Inc. and Raydient Places + Properties. Commissioners also agreed to move their regularly scheduled 9 a.m. special meeting that day to 5:30 p.m.;

• Extended the county’s COVID-19 state of emergency;

• Asked staff to collaborate with the Nassau County School District to determine if a 17-acre parcel of land south of Amelia Concourse would be a suitable site for a potential school;

“Currently there are no public schools located within the Amelia Concourse communities or within the Nassauville community,” county documents note. 

• Approved using the Yulee Sports Complex for the Yulee holiday parade, an event the county will sponsor for insurance purposes;

• Agreed to change wording in an ordinance that creates an American Beach Water and Sewer District Advisory Board by May 1, 2021; County Manager Taco Pope said the change was needed to indicate when the board would kick off the project; and

• Approved Commissioner Aaron Bell’s motion asking staff to determine the “cost differential” for installing bathrooms at the Scott Road access point instead of a south end access point; Bell said the Scott Road access receives more foot traffic.

Finally, Nassau County Council on Aging President and CEO Janice Ancrum praised county commissioners and staff for their efforts in assisting the non-profit organization during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COA has received $515,000 from the county since the beginning of the pandemic, all of which was funded by the federal CARES Act, according to Pope.

Ancrum also invited commissioners to a groundbreaking ceremony for an update to the organization’s Life Center in Hilliard. The $600,000 renovation to the facility was funded by the state Legislature.