Saturday, August 1, 2020

Gulf County Chamber of Commerce COVID Update 8-1

The following information is from the Florida Department of Health in Gulf County. Please contact Jessie Wagner Pippin with any questions about the information presented in the update.
PLEASE read the information carefully.
Jessie Wagner Pippin
Public Information Officer
Florida Department of Health in Gulf County
2475 Garrison Ave.
Port Saint Joe, FL 32456
Office Phone: (850) 705-6103
Cell Phone: (850)227-4193
Fax: 850-227-7587

Number of unduplicated COVID-19 tests so far: 3,355

Number of negative tests: 3,014

Number of positive tests: 336 Weekly

NEW - Weekly Positivity: Every Friday
Positivity for July 24-30: 15% (93 positive/609 total tests) 

Please note: The demand for the testing and designated laboratory, may cause a slight delay in reporting as reflected on the Florida COVID-19 Dashboard.
A Message From Your County Health Department:

Question: How do you know if your community is moving toward a COVID-19 downward trend?

Answer: We look at the weekly positivity percentage to help guide us. You want the positivity percentage to be as low as possible. This is important because a surge of new cases can increase exposure in the community. Our goal is to keep our vulnerable populations safe, maintain our medical capacity and aim for less than 5% or lower positivity for two weeks straight and keep going. We will share the new positivity percentage every Friday.

The percent is based on the number of people who test positive in a week divided by all the people tested that week, excluding people who have previously tested positive. This data is reviewed and corrected in our surveillance system daily to give us the most accurate picture, so counts can change over time. Keep in mind, as we clean up testing data, the revisions are not usually drastic enough to change weekly percentages. This is why we chose weekly trends vs. daily trends for our rural communities. Examples: we do move positive cases of individuals who only came here to get tested (and didn’t stay here) to the county they live in. And we also exclude congregated settings like prison inmates (both positive and negative) in this briefing update so that our numbers reflect community positivity. We’ve also been asked to round our numbers to the nearest percentage, which we’ve done for this report.

For Gulf:
• Week July 24-30 is 15% (93 positive/609 total tests)
• (This number excludes 11 prison inmate tests during the same week.)
• The previous week of July 17-23 was at 20%.

So, we are moving downward (the right direction). Let’s continue to follow CDC guidance to help us interrupt the spread of the virus. 2

For Franklin:
• Week July 24-30 is 5% (20 positive/426 total tests)
• (This number excludes 7 new prison inmate tests.)
• July 17-23 was 6%

Franklin is doing well to keep the spread of the disease low. Keep following the CDC guidance.

What kind of cases did we see this week? A lot of cases were related to family households, with more family members becoming infected from the first positive case. Some businesses have had cases and we work closely with employers to ensure individuals are isolated, contacts are in quarantine and sanitation practices are in place. Our businesses are working hard to keep folks safe and we have a campaign coming soon to help promote their efforts.

How can I help my community bring the positive percentage down? Follow CDC guidance. Social Distance. Please wear masks in places where social distancing cannot be maintained. Wash your hands frequently. Disinfect surfaces. Stay home when ill. Stay away from large crowds and people who you know are ill.

1. Please do not go to work if you are sick. Please do not be around others when you are not feeling well. Stay home. If you think you’ve been exposed to the virus and have symptoms, call your health care provider or health department to get tested.

2. If you test positive for COVID19, please be honest about the people you’ve been in close contact with. Why is this so important? We are trying to interrupt disease spread. Close contacts need to be able to quarantine so that the spread of the virus stops. Your personal information is kept completely confidential. The health department will work closely with you and help reach out to anyone you were in close contact with during your infection period. When someone finds out they need to quarantine, all they hear is “you’ve been identified as a close contact to 2 a positive case.” From there, we provide quarantine guidance to follow and help answer questions about the virus.

3. A great resource to answer many frequently asked questions can be found on the CDC website

4. The quarantine period is important. We need close contacts to a positive case to quarantine for 14 days from the date of their exposure to the positive individual. Getting a test that is negative during the quarantine period does not stop the clock. We have seen many individuals develop infection on the second week of quarantine, so it is really important to stay quarantined for the full 14-day period. Household quarantine can be a little more stretched since it can be very difficult for a positive individual to properly isolate from everyone else. If you live in the same household as a positive case, you need to quarantine while the person is sick and once this individual is no longer infectious, that’s when your quarantine 14 period will start. We explain all of this to every close contact identified and can provide quarantine orders to each individual.

5. I tested positive for COVID19. When can I be around others (no longer infectious)? If you tested positive for COVID19, you need to stay at home and isolate per the guidance provided by public health officials. If you think or know you had COVID-19, and had symptoms, you can be with others after at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared and at least 24 hours has passed with no fever without fever-reducing medication and symptoms have improved. If you tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms, you can be with others after 10 days have passed since your test. If you develop symptoms after testing positive, follow the guidance above that includes fever and symptoms improving. Follow this link to stay tuned on updates: Depending on your healthcare provider’s advice and availability of testing, you might get tested to see if you still have COVID-19. (Ex. residents of a nursing home.) If you are tested, you can be around others when you have no fever, respiratory symptoms have improved, and you receive two negative test results in a row, at least 24 hours apart. 
For Daily Gulf County COVID-19 Updates straight to your phone: text GULFCOVID to 888777

Florida Department of Health in Gulf County: 850-227-1276
Florida Department of Health in Franklin County: 850-653-2111

There is also a hotline available at 866-779-6121 or email

Follow the website for the latest guidance on COVID-19 and check out to keep up with state-specific updates.
For the full County COVID-19 Data Summary for each county in Florida, please visit:

Scroll to page 47 of the report to review the statistics for Gulf County. Interesting information such as age categories and hospitalizations are listed.
Financial Emergency/Hardship: 850-763-0475

1. Call First Monday of each month after 9am for screenings

2. An initial screening will take place on the phone to complete the application process and receive an appointment. a. Proof of need will be required: past due utility bill, proof of check stub from place of employment (before and after date affected).


  • 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the Month-WIG Community Center, 401 Peters St., Port St. Joe

  • Farm Share distribution will be the 1st and 3rd Monday of month at 4:00pm. Drive-thru pick up on a first come, first serve.

  • Second Harvest of the Big Bend: 2nd Saturday of each month from 9:30-11:30, Honeyville Community Center, 240 Honeyville Park Road. (3 family per vehicle limit – all families do not have to be present to receive food. Please, no children. Prepare for long wait times. Please ensure trunk/bed of vehicle has space available. Do not get out of your vehicle. Lower tailgates/lift trunks prior to turning in.

An Emergency Declaration of the City of Port St. Joe, Florida; recognizing the National, State and Local State of Emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic; requiring the use of facial covering or mask in public settings within the city limits of Port St. Joe, Florida where CDC social distancing guidelines cannot be followed.
NOW THEREFORE, pursuant to the powers conferred by Section 252.38 Florida Statues and the Charter of the City of Port St. Joe, be it declared by the City Commission of the City of Port Sy. Joe, Florida that:

1.      Every person over the age of six (6) who is in a public space within the City limits of Port St. Joe, Florida is required to wear facial covering (mask) when not able to engage in social distancing guidelines as set forth by the CDC.

2.      Every operator, employee, customer or patron of a business establishment located within the city limits of Port St Joe, Florida is required to wear a face mask or covering at all times while at that business establishment unless he or she is able to engage in social distancing.

3.      The operator and employees of a business establishment shall ensure that every individual in the establishment is aware of this Emergency Declaration. This can be accomplished by placing a sign in a conspicuous area which informs all persons entering the establishment of this Emergency Declaration.

4.      All persons accessing City buildings for purpose of conducting public business, visitation, delivery, or any other activity requiring a presence in a City building shall wear a face mask or covering.

5.      Effective Date: This Emergency Declaration shall become effective on Monday, July 27, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. and will remain in effect until further action of the City Commission or shall automatically sunset upon expiration of the current State of Emergency declared by the State of Florida and Gulf County due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The CDC has updated strategies and recommendations for employers responding to COVID-19, including those seeking to resume normal or phased business operations. We created a youth screening tool and sent it out to summer youth programs. The questions were modified for the adult workforce. In addition to regular temperature checks, the follow questions can be asked to employees:

Daily Health Questionnaire
  • Does you or anyone in your household have any of the following symptoms? (fever 100.4 or above, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, new loss of taste or smell)

  • Have you or anyone in the household traveled outside of the country or to any highly affected areas in the United States in the past 14 days? 

  • Has you had direct contact (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) with anyone who has tested positive with COVID-19 within the last 2 weeks?

  • Is there anyone in your household under instructions to self-isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19?

If you or someone you love needs a cloth mask, please call 850-340-3016. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. It is important to note that these face coverings:
• 1. Are not surgical or N-95 respirators, which continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and medical first responders, and
• 2. The use of cloth face coverings does not mean we can remove previously set social distancing measures.

For information on how you can make a facemask at home, visit ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html and watch this video
LIBRARIES Both Gulf County libraries remain closed until further notice. Curbside pick-up now available THREE days a week Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Please call or visit to place holds on library items.


CALL 850-270-8911, available 9-5pm EST. If you are in need of immediate mental health services call one of the agencies below available 24/7:

• National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

• SAMSA Disaster Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
or the Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741-741

• Florida Blue launched a 24-hour, free emotional support helpline for all Floridians. Any Floridian – even if uninsured or insured by another plan – can call 833-848-1762 for support in managing feelings of stress, anxiety, grief or fear related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Counselors cannot provide information on COVID-19 testing or treatment.

• Big Bend Community Based Care oversees a wide network of community partners in the fields of mental health counseling, substance use disorder treatment and child protective services throughout an 18- county area in Northwest Florida, from Escambia to Madison counties.
Florida residents can call the agency’s hotline at 1-888-95-GetHelp or 1-888-954-3843 at any time, day or night, and staff a member will help connect them to a provider in their community, regardless of whether they have health insurance.

For more information about Big Bend Community Based Care, visit

Court Clerk, Rebecca L. (Becky) Norris reminds everyone that a mask or face coverings is required to access the court house. 

No one will be allowed in without one.

Gulf County Court House
1000 Cecil G. Costin, Sr. Blvd.
Port St. Joe, Florida 32456
(850) 229-6112
An accurate count is crucial. The results are used to determine how much funding local communities receive for key public services and how many seats each state gets in Congress. State and local officials also use census counts to draw boundaries for congressional, state legislative, and school districts.

Become a member of the
Gulf County Chamber
Joe Whitmer
Executive Director
Gulf County Chamber of Commerce
321B Reid Ave
Port St Joe, FL
850-227-1223 Office

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