Fort Lauderdale (CBSMiami) – Broward County Manager Bertha Henry is declaring a state of emergency for Broward after the fourth confirmed case of the coronavirus.
Henry made the declaration Tuesday during a Broward County Commission meeting, which broadens the County’s powers to respond to the coronavirus crisis quicker. She also upgraded the Broward County Emergency Operations Center in Plantation to level two, which means the ability to call in additional emergency staff as needed.
This comes one day after Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency, which allows him to create a unified command structure and allows, if need be, out-of-state medical personnel to operate in Florida. It also allows him to deploy National Guard troops if necessary and allows the state to quickly purchase any necessary supplies.
Broward Mayor Dale Holness said Gov. DeSantis would provide what is necessary in Broward if the coronavirus spread accelerates.
Commissioner Mark Bogen says the messaging has to be “Don’t Touch” anything, such as credit card machines and countertops. He is calling for uniform timed cleaning protocols for all county buildings and public transportation, such as wiping down and disinfecting doors and handles every 20 minutes.
It is a very aggressive cleaning and sanitizing effort, which includes public buses, public libraries, the Broward County Courthouse, Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport and Port Everglades.
Henry confirmed there are four COVID-19 cases in Broward. Three of those people are employees of Metro Cruise Services, a ship agent company based out of California, which provides guest services for cruise ships docking at Port Everglades. They are not County employees but do work at Port Everglades.
State health officials are urging anyone who recently traveled through Port Everglades to isolate themselves for 14 days if they start experiencing symptoms.
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Henry also said there is a travel ban for County employees who were previously scheduled to travel to high-risk countries.
Commissioner Michael Udine was critical of the Florida Department of Health saying it has not done a good job of releasing information about coronavirus. “Their numbers don’t add up,” he said.
Commissioners were concerned the number of cases may be higher due to a lack of sufficient testing by the Florida Department of Health.
Udine says he doesn’t have confidence in the testing numbers.
“It’s not just 4 people.. it’s simply not true,” he said. “It’s just that they haven’t been tested.”
Commissioner Dr. Barbara Sharief also asked for a public service educational campaign to better inform and educate people, especially the large elderly population in Broward who are most vulnerable to coronavirus.