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 Cases Total Deaths Florida Residents Non-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:

Location Cases
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.

Location Cases Deaths Location Cases Deaths
Alachua  37  0 Leon  8  0
Baker  4  0 Manatee  16  1
Bay  1 0 Marion  4 0
Bradford  1 0 Martin  4  0
Brevard  9  0 Miami-Dade  338  0
Broward  311  3 Monroe  3  0
Charlotte  3  0 Nassau  1  0 
Citrus  9  0 Okaloosa  14  0
Clay  10  2 Orange  50  2
Collier  41  0 Osceola  26  0
Columbia  3  0 Palm Beach  101  3
Desoto  1  0 Pasco  15  0
Duval  50  3 Pinellas  45  1
Escambia  10  0 Polk  13  0
Flagler  4  0 Putnam  2  0 
Gadsden  1   0 Santa Rosa  4  1
Hernando  5  0 Sarasota  26  0
Highlands  4  0 Seminole  23  0
Hillsborough  91  0 St. Johns  22  0
Indian River 11  0 St. Lucie  6  0
Jackson  1  0 Sumter  10  0
Lake  14  0 Volusia  18  0
Lee  32  2 Walton  10  0