In light of the governor's order, what is the health department advising Franklin County residents and tourists regarding gathering on the beaches, eating in restaurants or drinking at bars?

The governor’s order will reduce density and crowds in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and beaches to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The Department of Health is strongly advising our residents and visitors to practice social distancing. Social distancing measures are taken to restrict when and where people can gather to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. This means keeping at least 6ft between you and other people. It also means avoiding shopping and/or dining at peak hours and taking advantage of delivery or pick-up services. Over all we’re encouraging people to avoid crowded places in general, including but not limited to community events, festivals, and mass gatherings.

We realize that many residents and visitors will still want to dine in to restaurants and we encourage them to continue practicing good behavioral health and hygiene habits such as handwashing. Handwashing is one of the most important ways you can keep from getting sick and spreading germs to others. Dirty hands spread disease. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. These are healthy acts that should be practices year-round, but even more so now.

In addition to regular and thorough hand-washing, practice good respiratory hygiene:

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. It’s harder than you think! According to the CDC, studies have shown that people touch their eyes, nose and mouth about 25 times every hour.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Stay home when you are sick. Do NOT even think about stepping near our Assisted Living Facilities or Nursing homes if you are ill. These places are tightening up on their visitor policies to keep these patients safe.

And cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask. The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.

Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

Lastly, we advise our residents and visitors to increase their situational awareness by viewing and follow on Social Media: Florida Department of Health on Twitter @HealthyFla -or- on Facebook Florida Department of Health (DOH). Additionally, the Franklin County Florida Emergency Management Facebook page provides daily updates to keep our residents and visitors in the know.