Dr. Eugenia Ngo-Seidel, the director of the county health department, told the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners Wednesday her key message in advance of the Labor Day holiday weekend is “practice the safest celebration, as much as possible, as we gather, and to really limit the exposure in family and private celebrations.”
The BOCC held a special meeting Wednesday and extended the current state of emergency due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The virus, officially named SARS-CoV-2, causes a disease called COVID-19. The original state of emergency started March 18. A Florida law requires the resolution to be extended every seven days while the emergency still exists.
Ngo-Seidel said the week “has been very challenging because of results and challenges with lab reports,” referring to data “dumps” from the Florida Department of Health related to the pandemic. She believed the large data reports would create problems in the counts for this week, and the results would be “skewed,” but continuing with her report, Ngo-Seidel reported the positivity rate the infection tests performed in the county for the past two weeks was 8.2%. There were an additional 22 hospitalizations and four additional deaths as of her report.
There had been 22 COVID-19 related deaths in Nassau County officially reported by FDOH as of Thursday afternoon.
Ngo-Seidel also reminded the commissioners and the public to keep workplaces as safe as possible and reduce on-the-job exposure. If someone gets a positive test result for infection, they should contact people they have been around, which include work and school settings, to let them know.
Greg Foster, the director of Nassau County Emergency Manage-ment, said his office is continuing to share information and his messages mirror those of the Health Department on being safe and keeping kids home from school if they are ill.
Foster anticipates purchasing N95 masks, but they are not available right now. He also reviewed the tropical storm outlook, but no storms are threatening us at this time.
Under the expansion items added to the agenda, Assistant County Manager Taco Pope updated the BOCC on the money it received via the CARES Act.
“Nassau County entered into a professional services agreement with Government Services Group (GSG) on June 24, 2020 to develop the Nassau County CARES Act Plan,” according to background materials presented. On Aug. 26, the BOCC approved another extension GSG’s contract through Dec. 30 “in order to provide program management, program review, program monitoring services, and program closeout/wrap up.”
“The Small Business Recovery grants have had two rounds,” Pope said. “The first round was completed and reviewed and we had 62 approved grants going out. Those checks should be in the mail this week or at the beginning of next week. The applicants who were approved have been notified.”
Pope praised the BOCC’s strong leadership, saying the feedback from the grantees is that they are extremely appreciative. “The approval rate was over 85%. There were only nine applications that were deemed either ineligible or incomplete,” Pope added.
There are two grant applications pending due to legal concerns.
The second round of applications closed, but they have not yet been reviewed. There were a total of 118 applications submitted.
“Our hope is that the approval rate (of the second round) will be similar, pushing towards 90%. We should be able to get those reviewed and start getting checks out in the coming weeks,” Pope stated. The cap on the number of grants is 220 applications. With the Individual Assistance grants (rent and mortgage assistance) applications, there are 86 so far with a capacity of 102. They are currently being reviewed.
“Two more special meetings were scheduled for Sept. 9 and Sept. 23. The Sept. 9 meeting is scheduled so a vote can be taken to extend the State of Emergency again. Regarding the Sept. 23 meeting, Pope stated, “There are notification requirements, for us to consider a resolution adopting the American Beach water and wastewater facility planned it’s a requirement of the SRF loan that we’ve been all working towards to get water and sewer infrastructure placed in American Beach.”
The commissioners extended their appreciation to Pope and Office of Management and Budget Director Megan Diehl for their work on the Nassau County CARES Act program and Commissioner Pat Edwards thanked the staff of Road and Bridges for their assistance with “drainage issues.”