At the regular Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting on April 14, 2020, the board members discussed the extension of the current proclamation of State of Emergency, which has been extended for another 7 days. Renewal of the State of Emergency is required by state law.
Commissioners discussed the changes brought about by the state of emergency, and their collective desire to preserve individual rights and freedoms while changing routines and behaviors that will minimize the transmission of COVID-19. Being the governing body, the BOCC has the authority going forward to set rules for further social distancing.
Commissioner Steve Champion remarked about Hillsborough county’s recently instituted 9PM curfew, and asked, “What is it, the virus can only come out at night?”
Champion added, “I don’t want to see anything like that in Hernando county … I don’t want to see curfews and more restrictions. There needs to be personal responsibility and communication.”
The rest of the board agreed. It was stated that Hernando County has not instituted any extra regulations beyond what the state requires.
Emergency Management Director Cecilia Patella explained that her department began monitoring COVID-19 formally on January 23rd after receiving the first notice from the health department. Patella reported that, “On March 3rd, the governor issued executive order to the state surgeon general to declare a public health emergency, and on March 19th our (county) received notice that we had four presumptive positive cases in the county and on that same date March 19th the county chairman in conjunction with the executive policy group declared a local state of emergency.”
Patella went on to say that Hernando County’s Emergency Management department acts as support to the Florida Department of Health, which acts as the lead agency. The objective of both departments is the tracing of positive cases, and ensuring that those individuals are receiving adequate care, as well as procurement of Personal Protective Equipment for medical personnel.
Patella will continue to provide further updates until the State of Emergency is ended.