JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Looking ahead and helping local businesses “get back the right time” to reopen the city, Mayor Lenny Curry stressed on Monday that that time is not now.
Curry said it was important to know that a local community like Jacksonville is not going to save the economy as the COVID-19 pandemic is global.
“Opening up our city while others continue to suffer would be irresponsible and dangerous for our citizens, health workers (and) first responders,” Curry said. “We are still in a very real public health crisis.”
He said social distancing measures like his Safer-At-Home executive order are key to making sure the city is reducing the spread of the virus.
“We need to stay focused and vigilant. I want to remind people that models don’t predict the climax for another week or a week and a half, so we still have a lot to do, ”said Curry. “That is why our local and state regulations remain in place.”
Curry also signed a new proclamation extending the state of emergency for an additional 30 days and allowing the city to continue receiving state and federal funding to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
Curry looked down the street and said his team was watching what the federal government was doing to get the economy going again.
“(We) are already thinking about what we need to do locally to get this city moving again – when the time is right,” said Curry.
Curry said face masks and COVID-19 tests won’t stop when people go back to work.
“I will encourage big companies in the city, as we get more information and data, to think about possibly running their own tests,” he said. “That way, people on the other hand can be quickly identified and isolated so that we don’t get shut down completely.”
Curry said the city is considering the possibility of accelerating infrastructure projects that are in the pipeline because the work needs to be done and could be a way of creating jobs.
“When we think about the economy, President Trump has the task force he announced to get the country back to work. When they get to that point, we think locally and internally about what we can do to motivate people and companies to get back to work and create jobs, ”said Curry.
The mayor said staff are also regularly reviewing the city’s loan program, launched in partnership with Vystar Credit Union, to see if any changes are needed, such as increasing the city’s credit limit.
Lot J’s COVID-19 testing site at TIAA Bank Field reopened Monday morning under the control of the Florida National Guard.
Nearly 60 National Guard members reported on duty with Lot J. Curry said joining the Florida National Guard will relieve the city’s first responders and free them to resume their regular duties.
The Jacksonville Fire Department continues to support the site, which can now test up to 400 people a day – more than 250 people the federal government previously had on the site.
A series of severe storms moving through the area forced the site to temporarily close at around 10:30 a.m. Monday morning, about 90 minutes after it opened. The site reopened at 2:30 p.m.
The site is now testing anyone who has had contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, even if they have no symptoms.
Plus, results come back faster, Curry said.
“If you test positive you will be notified first and should see results in three to five days,” Curry said. “Results for negative tests can take a few days longer.”
According to the city, 299 people were tested on Saturday.
Governor Ron DeSantis said the state ordered antibody tests because it believes many people are carrying the virus without realizing it.
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