An Update on the Situation Regarding Coronavirus Infections in South Florida

Note: This blog concerns a rapidly evolving situation. All of the information contained below is accurate as of 3-24-2020 7:30 PM EST

During times of crisis where the public is nervous and unsure, accurate information is valuable currency. 

We at Steinger, Greene & Feiner want to provide our clients, readers, and community members with the most up-to-date information we have so far. All information contained in the article below is based on reports from trustworthy local news sources as well as citations from academic research institutions and public health agencies.

During these trying times, we are making accommodations to maintain business functions and keep our clients’ cases active. If you need our services, we are available.

Anyone can contact us via our local offices, our convenient online form, or via our toll-free number at (800) 431-6841

Existing clients can receive updates directly from their attorneys. New clients can still receive a free, no-obligation consultation through their preferred method of communication.

Thank you for your patience. We hope that as a community we can come together to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. Please continue to prioritize the safety of our most vulnerable community members.

Florida Confirms Over 1,400 Cases, Most in South Florida Counties

The Miami Herald, citing Florida public health officials, put together the following numbers for the current volume of novel coronavirus cases in the state.

Total CasesTotal DeathsFlorida ResidentsNon-Residents
 1,467 20 1,379 88

 

The first coronavirus case in Florida was reported on March 1. Since that time, the volume of recorded cases has ballooned in certain metro areas of the state. Meanwhile, other regions have reported 0 – 5 cases total.

Unfortunately for the communities we serve in South Florida, the Miami-West Palm Beach-Ft. Lauderdale metro area has been hit the hardest by new cases. 

Nearly half of all Florida’s positive coronavirus cases came from Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

The majority of cases were reported in the following South Florida cities:

LocationCases
Miami 181
Hollywood 76
Fort Lauderdale 62
Miami Beach 45 
Location pending 32

 

You can find an exact count of the known cases in each Florida county using the table and accompanying infographic provided at the end of this article.

Governor DeSantis Urges Precautions, But Does Not Order Mandatory “Shelter In Place” Laws

Responses and measures vary depending on the stance of the state governor and volume of cases within the state.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis has been reluctant to take precautions described as necessary in other states, such as a mandatory “shelter in place” order.

Seventeen states have issued these orders so far, which require residents to stay in their homes any time they are not performing necessary tasks such as traveling to and from work or visiting grocery stores. Many states have granted exceptions to light physical activities, like dog walking. Many have also enforced measures banning public gatherings of 50 people or more. 

Governor DeSantis cites a lack of overall cases in the state as a reason for not imposing greater restrictions.

“If you look at Florida’s situation right now, this is not a virus that’s impacting every corner of the state,” he explained. “We have 20 counties that have zero cases at all, and we have about 25 counties that really have only a few cases.”

At the same time, the governor has implemented measures to protect Florida from travelers coming from areas with a high volume of cases. He issued an executive order on Monday (3/23/20) ordering travelers coming from the states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to immediately shelter in place upon entering Florida. The National Guard is assisting in this measure.

Governor DeSantis has also issued blanket voluntary (non-mandatory) recommendations urged by the Surgeon General. These include:

  • Encouraging all individuals 65+ to self-isolate for 14 days, avoid crowds, and avoid going to public places. This recommendation also applies to individuals who are immunocompromised or who may be especially vulnerable to the disease’s symptoms.
  • Discouraging any organization or business from allowing a congregation of more than 10 people.
  • Suggesting all non-essential businesses to telecommute, if possible.

Guidelines like social distancing work best in communities that have not yet seen a tremendous impact, cautions University of South Florida (USF) public health expert Dr. Marissa Levine. She recently told the Herald-Tribune that we as a nation are at a “really important time” where social distancing actions provide “crucial” defenses against the exponential spread of the disease.

All Jury Trials in Florida Suspended Until at Least April 17

One area of activity that will impact our clients is that all jury trials in Florida have been suspended until at least April 17. These closures are the result of an order issued by Florida Chief Justice Charles Canady.

Many local government operations have also restricted public access to their facilities, moved to teleworking, and/or postponed trials. If you have a pending case, consult with your attorney or visit the clerk of the court website for the county in which you reside.

Florida Public Health Guidelines for Preventing the Spread of COVID-19

There are many things individuals can do to limit the risk of infection to themselves or others.

The following precautions are recommended by Broward County officials, the Florida Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Governor’s office.

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use hand sanitizers at home and in the workplace.
  • If you are sick, stay home, and follow the advice of your health care provider.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. If using a tissue, immediately discard. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone showing respiratory symptoms (breathing difficulties, cough, runny nose).
  • Avoid touching public surfaces – credit card machines, gas pumps, hand railings, elevators. Use a tissue or paper towel when touching surfaces.
  • Over-the-counter masks are generally not an effective deterrent and are not recommended for the public at this time.
  • Evaluate your travel plans as conditions warrant. Reconsider traveling to areas that are already under a travel advisory or areas that are experiencing an outbreak.

Most Recent County Data for Novel Coronavirus Cases

*Counties reporting 0 cases not displayed

Note: The most up-to-date data can be obtained from a helpful dashboard provided by the Florida Department of Health.

LocationCasesDeathsLocationCasesDeaths
Alachua 37 0Leon 8 0
Baker 4 0Manatee 16 1
Bay 10Marion 40
Bradford 10Martin 4 0
Brevard 9 0Miami-Dade 338 0
Broward 311 3Monroe 3 0
Charlotte 3 0Nassau 1 0 
Citrus 9 0Okaloosa 14 0
Clay 10 2Orange 50 2
Collier 41 0Osceola 26 0
Columbia 3 0Palm Beach 101 3
Desoto 1 0Pasco 15 0
Duval 50 3Pinellas 45 1
Escambia 10 0Polk 13 0
Flagler 4 0Putnam 2 0 
Gadsden 1  0Santa Rosa 4 1
Hernando 5 0Sarasota 26 0
Highlands 4 0Seminole 23 0
Hillsborough 91 0St. Johns 22 0
Indian River11 0St. Lucie 6 0
Jackson 1 0Sumter 10 0
Lake 14 0Volusia 18 0
Lee 32 2Walton 10 0