April 25, 2020
By Sarah McCormick
HILLSBOROUGH, Fla – Hillsborough County has seen a steady decline in the amount of diagnosed COVID-19 residents, and thus the county Emergency Policy Group has been in talks regarding the strategic re-opening of the economy and county as a whole. With 35 currently serious cases, 1,022 current cases, and 21 deaths, the county has averaged a 1% test rate for all residents – something county commissioners are finding to be a bit concerning when considering a re-opening of the area.
Some members present for the most recent meeting on Friday had proposed the reopening of parks and beaches in ‘green zones’. These individuals faced backlash from other members of the county commission board due to having already attempted a re-opening of parks much earlier on, which backfired tremendously as residents were not practicing social distancing. Threats of harm were made to employees of the city when attempting to warn citizens to distance themselves from one another, and as a result, parks were closed again. Discussions regarding the reopening process were put on the back burner until this coming Monday when they will resume at the county board meeting.
In terms of how to phase out the reopening procedures, officials are looking to the “Public Health Principles for a Phased Reopening During COVID-19: Guidance for Governors” released by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, which details the fact that there is no cookie-cutter approach to reopening individual areas or counties. Officials are working in conjunction with updates and information from the Governor, as well as Public Health officials, to make an adequate judgment on opening and what that looks like for each individual sector of the county.
As for public schools and when they can be expected to resume in-person learning, that won’t be happening for the remainder of the school year. The State of Florida decided to hold off on resuming in-school instruction until the beginning of the new school year in August. Until then, Hillsborough parents can expect their children to continue with distance learning via their Chromebook and internet.
Once each section of the county, big or small, is indeed re-opened, the officials across the state seem to have the same targeted approach in terms of how to prevent a potential outbreak, which has been the epicenter of discussion. Continue practicing social distancing, maintain good hygiene and practice good handwashing techniques, and stay home if you’re feeling unwell. It’s also very important for individuals who are immune-compromised, elderly or have underlying health conditions to continue to stay at home as much as possible. Eating a healthy diet and exercising during this time is also essential to overall health.
Count on us to bring you updates on the latest information after County meetings Monday.