As of Friday, there are no confirmed COVID- 19 confirmed cases in Franklin County.


In addition, Governor Ron DeSantis has directed all restaurants and food establishments within the state to suspend on-premises food and alcohol consumption for customers. The listed establishments may, however, operate their kitchens for the purpose of providing delivery or take-out services.


This executive order lifts the restriction that prohibits a specially licensed food service establishment from selling package sales of alcohol for delivery, take-out or consumption off-premises for restaurants complying with Executive Order 20-68, through the expiration of the state of emergency declared in Executive Order 20-52.


Alcohol sales to go with food that is pick-up or delivered will be permitted and I.D. will be required for orders including alcohol.


Additionally, the Executive Order requires the closures of gymnasiums and fitness centers within the State of Florida. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) shall utilize its authorities under Florida law to further implement and enforce the provisions of this Executive Order and shall take additional measures as necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare.


Franklin and Gulf County Health Department locations are open and will remain open as staff continue to work on the COVID-19 response efforts.


Florida Department of Health in Franklin County can be reached at 653-2111. There is also a hotline available at 866-779-6121 or email COVID-19@flhealth.gov.


Follow the CDC.gov website for the latest guidance on COVID-19. Follow the Floridahealth.gov website to keep up with state-specific updates, number of cases by county and other great resources like frequently asked questions.


As part of the state’s ongoing efforts to provide transparency and clarity regarding COVID-19, the Florida Department of Health launched a new COVID-19 Case Dashboard. Visit http://tinyurl.com/usnyrju to see county by county statistics. To keep Florida residents and visitors safe, informed and aware about the status of the virus, this dashboard will be updated at 11 p.m. and 6 p.m.daily.


TESTING


Call your health care provider first or if you are symptomatic to determine the need for testing. If a person thinks they have COVID-19, they should call their health care provider before going to their office so the provider can take precautions to prevent exposing other people. In some cases, they are going to meet you in the parking lot. It’s just a precaution. We are really trying to keep our healthcare workers and other patients safe. Review your signs, symptoms and travel history with your physician. Your physician will evaluate you for other possible causes of respiratory illness and also contact the county health department to coordinate COVID-19 testing.


• To be prioritized for testing, patients must meet the state’s criteria, which evaluates a combination of symptoms and risk factors. Their samples will be sent to the closest laboratory.


• If you don’t meet priority criteria, you can discuss with your provider about possibly getting tested at a commercial laboratory (e.g. LabCorp or Quest).


• State lab results are generally available within 24-48 hours. Commercial labs can take three to four days. Turnaround time can for all be affected by demand.


SCHOOLS


All schools will be closed until April 15. The district is working on an Instructional Continuity Plan, to be implemented Monday, March 30 for home-based learning until schools reopen. The summer student feeding program offer meals for pick-up at multiple site locations throughout the county at no cost to all children ages 18 and under. This will begin Tuesday.


COUNTY OFFICES


Franklin County will restrict public access to all county offices and buildings in order to promote and protect the common good. This includes Planning & Zoning, Emergency Management, Road & Bridge, Mosquito Control, Solid Waste, Parks & Recreation, Animal Control, Library Branches, and Veteran Services. The public to contact these offices during normal working hours by phone, fax, or emails. Visit www.franklincountyflorida.com or call the Planning and Building office at 653-9783 ext. 373 for more details.


The County Clerk’s Office, the Tax Collector’s office, and the Property Appraiser’s office at the main courthouse will remain open to the public for critical, essential services only. Call before you visit the courthouse to see how they may help you remotely. The Clerk’s office telephone is 653-8861. Dial a (0) zero to get a deputy clerk who can transfer you to the appropriate division. The Tax Collector’s telephone is 653-9323. The Property Appraiser’s telephone is 653-9236 and website is www.franklincountypa.net.


LIBRARIES


Franklin County Public Libraries are until further notice. The Wi-Fi services for both the Eastpoint and Carrabelle branches will remain on 24/7 and is accessible from the parking lot. Library staff will be available during normal operating hours, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., via telephone to assist with card renewals as well as assistance with accessing e-books and audiobooks from home. Call 670-8151 in Eastpoint or 697-2366 in Carrabelle for more details.


BEACHES


The Governor is directing parties accessing public beaches in the state of Florida to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance by limiting their gatherings to no more than 10 persons, distancing themselves from other parties by six feet. Beaches are subject to close if residents and visitors do not follow this order.


MASS GATHERINGS


Continue to follow information from the CDC on mass gatherings. CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 10 people or more throughout the United States. This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus.


SMALL BUSINESS LOANS


On March 17, Governor DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The bridge loan program provides short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced economic injury from COVID-19. The application period is open and runs through May 8, 2020. Interested businesses should visit FloridaDisasterLoan.org for more information.


A MESSAGE FROM TDC:


In regards to COVID-19 we have been following all updates through the Florida Department of Health, Visit Florida and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in regards to domestic travel recommendations. At this time, the federal government has not recommended limiting domestic travel. Any travelers should practice the usual precautions. We encourage all tourism industry partners to stay aware of the situation and take necessary precautions. Please refer to the Florida Department of Health business guidelines as well as the guidelines for large events. Franklin County Tourist Development Council has suspended event marketing until further notice and will resume when the events are rescheduled.


To our partners and businesses, we encourage you to continue to refer to the DOH and CDC wesbites as well as Visit Florida’s new website Florida Now https://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/florida-now.html for the most up-to-date information and guidance on COVID-19.