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Palm Coast Friday, Jun. 19, 2020 8 months ago

First long-term care patient in Flagler assisted living facility has COVID-19

Officials urge social distancing and mask wearing. 'If you go into a business, and you feel like it’s crowded, it is. Leave,' County Administrator Jerry Cameron advised.
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

The first long-term care patient has tested positive in Flagler County, and officials warn that face coverings and social distancing are still essential if the community wants to remain a “little island” of low positivity rates.

“Let us to continue to be this little island of lower case rates. We can reopen our economy and be precautious at the same time."

JONATHAN LORD, Emergency Management chief 

In the past 14 days, about 2,300 residents have been tested, with 22 positive cases, said Bob Snyder, administrator of Flagler’s Department of Health, on WNZF’s “Free For All Friday” on June 19. That’s less than a 1% positivity rate. Meanwhile, surrounding counties have seen spikes in positivity, as have many states around the country.

“We did have one ALF patient that did test positive,” Snyder said, “our first resident in the county.” Previously, none of the 1,600 tests at assisted living facilities and other long-term care facilities had been positive. (The state recently required that all residents and staff at long-term care facilities must be tested every two weeks.)

After the show, Snyder said there have been others who have tested positive while in hospice in previous months, but this was the first resident in long-term care at an assisted living facility. The patient is a resident at Tuscan Gardens at Palm Coast.

The next step, as with any positive case, is for the DOH to begin contact tracing, meaning health staff talks to the positive patient and determines who else they’ve been in close contact with for more than 15 minutes at a time. In most cases, only a few members of immediate family would qualify, but this was an unusual case, accentuating the vulnerability of long-term care residents and staff:

The Tuscan Gardens resident identified 30 individuals identified as close contacts. Two of them are now in isolation.


For the sake of the economy

Following the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is more essential now than ever, according to County Administrator Jerry Cameron, and he said he’s afraid that people are relaxing too quickly.

“When we did reopening as a state, as a nation, we didn’t emphasize enough that that is not a signal that this is over,” Cameron said on “Free For All Friday.” “In fact, this may be just beginning.”

If we continue to see spikes in positive cases, the economy will need to shut down again, he said, and that could cause more people to lose their jobs. Keep 6 feet away from others, and wear face coverings in any public place, he said.

“If you go into a business, and you feel like it’s crowded, it is. Leave,” Cameron advised.

Bob Snyder and Amy Lukasik. Photo by Brian McMillan

Snyder also praised the county’s Pledge to Protect campaign, which identifies businesses and restaurants that follow CDC guidelines for the sake of their customers and the rest of the community.

“I find this initiative by the (Tourism Department) to be brilliant,” Snyder said to Director Amy Lukasik, on the radio show. “This is public health in practice.”

Emergency Management Chief Jonathan Lord added: “Let us to continue to be this little island of lower case rates. We can reopen our economy and be precautious at the same time.”


For the sake of others

About half of the people who have COVID-19 have no symptoms, so they will never know they had the disease, Snyder said. That’s why masks are so important — to make sure you’re not spreading it to others.

“If you’re a nonmasker, don’t go out. Don’t impose yourself on other people.”

DAVID AYRES, "Free For All Friday" host

To be tested at the Daytona State College campus, call 313-4200.

Radio host David Ayres suggested that friends put social pressure on each other to wear masks.

“If you’re a nonmasker, don’t go out,” Ayres said. “Don’t impose yourself on other people.”

Brian McMillan has been editor of the Palm Coast Observer since it began in 2010. He was named the Journalist of the Year for weekly newspapers in North America by the Local Media Association in 2012. He lives in Palm Coast with his wife and five children. Email...

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