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Florida's Emergency Operations Center Level 1 activated, DeSantis says

"We are not waiting for the situation to dictate a response."
Posted: 5:04 PM, Mar 14, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-14 18:50:58-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — During a press conference on Saturday afternoon, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that the Emergency Operations Center would move to Level One*, allowing more epidemiologists and other health care staff to be hired.

As of Saturday afternoon, 70 Florida residents have tested positive for COVID-19, six were diagnosed and isolated outside of Florida, seven are non-Florida residents. Three Florida residents have died from the disease, including one resident who passed away in California.

Three cases of COVID-19 in Broward County appear to be community spread.

DeSantis also said Florida would be "moving back bureaucratic hurdles," including suspending driver license, state licensing and all renewal requirements for 30 days.

DeSantis also announced weight restrictions on highways would be waived, to allow for a greater amount of products and supplies to be brought in.

Additional medical supplies, including swabs, respirators, masks, gloves, test equipment and general homes goods will continue to arrive without interruption, according to DeSantis.

He also said testing for the coronavirus is more robust and decentralized, and there is now a wider variety of testing capabilities available, including two large private labs. DeSantis added that the 2,500 COVID-19 tests kits purchased commercially mean Florida will not have a test capacity issue.

Both DeSantis and Dr. Scott Rivkees, the surgeon general, said the number of positive test results would grow over the next week or two, and the public should "just steer clear of crowds."

With that, visiting restrictions in nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been extended to 30 days. Exceptions may be made for compassionate visits, inline with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid guidelines.

In addition to the Level One activation, Florida has coordinated with the National Guard and other medics, should their services be needed.

Desantis also asked that 61 Floridians who were aboard a Grand Princess cruise ship, currently in isolation at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, be allowed to return home for self-quarantine, and thanked health care providers and home goods stores and staff for keeping up with community needs.

If you feel sick, the Florida Department of Health has a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Questions may also be emailed to covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

*EOC Level One : Full Scale Activation of State Emergency Response Team - In a full scale activation, all primary and support agencies under the state plan are notified. The State Emergency Operations Center will be staffed by Division of Emergency Management personnel and all Emergency Support Functions.