Dr. Eugenia Ngo-Seidel, the director of the county health department, told the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners Wednesday that it is especially important this year for everyone to get a flu shot. The public health advice was part of Ngo-Seidel’s regular update on the local statistics related to the coronavirus pandemic, including the officially reported SARS-CoV-2 test results and cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, in Nassau County.
She reported that, as of Tuesday, there had been a total of 2,116 confirmed cases of infection in Nassau County. Of those, 1,972 were residents. “As of the same period, public health has released 1,751 for an estimate of 221 current active cases and their quarantine contacts. For the week of Sept. 20, our positivity rate has decreased to 4.96 (percent of test results reported).
“Since the last period that I gave this report, there have been six additional residents hospitalized and four additional deaths. Currently there are two hospitalized patients in Baptist Nassau and at least one in Jacksonville.
“Our year-to-date pediatric caseload has been 165 and their positivity rate – this age group, less than 18 (years old) – is 9% of those that have been tested,” Ngo-Seidel said. “So again, our key message is to reduce the spread of illness, including flu, and it is very important to get your flu vaccine as we talked about last week. The flu vaccine can protect you from getting the flu or making the illness less severe. Getting the flu shot now is especially important because it will give you the opportunity to get your immunity up before the time that flu really starts to circulate. To prevent both flu and COVID, we encourage everyone to stay home if they are sick, cover your cough and sneeze, wash your hands, wear a mask and physically distance.”
Nassau County Emergency Management Director Greg Foster spoke next. “As Dr. Seidel said, our positivity rate continues to fall. We continue to monitor that and continue to push out information to the general public to keep them focused on being careful, paying attention to what is going on and taking the steps necessary for them to be able to protect themselves. In reference to PPE, we have gotten ourselves to a point where we feel confident that we have enough PPE to keep us going for multiple months barring some massive situation coming up. ... A large hurricane would obviously deplete our PPE resources. We continue to be in touch with the state to make sure that there is PPE available. If we are affected by a hurricane, they do have stocks ready for us and we know how to order those and get those in, if necessary.
“We continue to work with the Department of Health on messaging, making sure that the correct message gets out there in support of the CDC and the FDOH,” Foster said.
There was one item on the consent agenda, an approval for Chairman Danny Leeper to sign “deletion from inventory forms” for two John Deer Motor Graders for the Road & Bridge Department. The department traded the two graders for two new “motor graders,” but the forms weren’t approved by the BOCC prior to the trade-in. The BOCC unanimously approved the action.
Under new business, the BOCC unanimously approved a resolution extending the county’s current state of emergency “ due to COVID-19.” The county first declared the local state of emergency on March 18. Florida law requires the resolution to be extended every seven days “while the emergency still exists.”
The board also unanimously approved authorizing Leeper to sign and staff to submit the “Lobbying, Debarment and Drug Free Workplace Certification and the Subaward Management Capabilities and Compliance Questionnaire” and “Application for Funding Assistance” to the Florida Dept of Law Enforcement. The FDLE has allocated $9,353 for use by the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office.
The BOCC also considered and unanimously approved Leeper signing an amendment to the “CARES Act Funding Agreement with Florida Department of Emergency Management” referring to a “20% Allocation Spending Plan.” David Jahosky, the managing director of Government Services Group, which has a contract with the county to help the BOCC and staff manage the CARES Act program, was introduced by County Manager Taco Pope to speak on this topic.
Jahosky, speaking to the commissioners via videoconferencing, said Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Sept. 18 a plan for the second disbursement of CARES Act funding. The approximate amount was 20% of the total award. For the county, this adds up to $3,092,876. According to Jahosky, Florida’s Division of Emergency Management said no additional funds would be fronted to the county and expenditures beyond 45% would be by reimbursement. A grant manager will be assigned to work on processing expenditures and disbursements. The county has submitted their report for the first allocation of 25% and now must submit a report for how it will spend the second allocation of 20%. Once the report is signed, submitted, and approved by FDEM, they will pay the county $3,092,876.
FDEM is also expecting a final report from the county on how the remaining 55% of the CARES Act funds will be utilized. Jahosky broke down the allocation as follows: “$304,000 for payroll expenses for public health and public safety employees, $260,000 for public health expenses, $348,000 for economic support, and $740,000 in the small business assistance program – which is still being processed, $240,000 for additional PPE, $482,000 for housing support, and $718,000 for food programs.”
Pope reported on the next agenda item: “Discuss/consider the County’s legislative priorities to be submitted to the Northeast Florida Regional Council for the 2021 Legislative Session.” He said the recommendation is to resubmit the priorities from last year along with updated demographic information, as they are still relevant. The legislative priorities include water and sewer infrastructure, affordable housing, and flood mitigation.
A staff recommendation clarifying $25,000 as a “not-to-exceed amount” to be added to an interlocal agreement between the city of Fernandina Beach and the BOCC was also discussed. Leeper noted that this was an item brought back from the Sept. 28 meeting.
The board then approved Leeper signing the first amendment to an agreement between the county and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for the “Nassau County American Beach Well and Septic Tank Phase Out project.” The amendment extends the date of the agreement to May 31, 2021 due to additional work needed and “further community engagement and property owner-voter and mandatory connection research.”
Making new appointments to the Value Adjustment Board was the last item discussed. Currently, there are no candidates for these positions, so Commissioner Pat Edwards suggested that they be listed on the county’s website and in the News-Leader and other
papers to try to get people who are interested in serving. A motion was made to proceed accordingly, and it was unanimously approved.
Commissioner Justin Taylor commented on the legislative priorities, thanking Pope and others for making their suggestions. Taylor also spoke about the positive assistance of the SHIP-Affordable Housing Program that goes towards down payments and housing rehabilitation. He complimented Grants Specialist Carol Gilchrist in the budget office for overseeing and coordinating that effort.
Leeper then expressed his thanks to the Road & Bridge Department for a quick
repair “to the damage on Sadler Road.”