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Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Mar. 16, 2020 3 weeks ago

Ormond Beach issues local state of emergency, events and programs canceled

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Six cases of coronavirus have been identified in Volusia. Here's how that's impacting Ormond Beach.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

With nine cases of COVID-19 in Volusia County, the city of Ormond Beach has issued a local state of emergency and canceled all public community events on city property — including athletic programs, recreational activities and upcoming City Commission meetings.

The resolution was unanimously passed during an emergency commission meeting on Monday, March 16, where commissioners sat with vacant spots in between them to allow for social distancing, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“We certainly are living in highly unusual, and in fact historic, times," Mayor Bill Partington said.

The local state of emergency declaration comes days after a national emergency was declared by President Trump, followed by similar decrees by the state of Florida and Volusia County. The declaration allows Ormond Beach flexibility in contracting and the ability to apply for FEMA funding if needed. 

The city has also put a hold on utilities disconnections until further notice to ensure water customers have water for drinking, cooking and hygiene practices. 

At the meeting, City Commissioner Dwight Selby inquired about Chitwood's release of information regarding locations being monitored due to possible exposure to coronavirus. There were four such cases in Ormond Beach at the time of the meeting. By that night, the number had risen to seven.

Selby said the city should lead by example and share information so people can make better decisions, and said the city should share as much information as it can. 

“More transparency is better," Selby said. 

City Manager Joyce Shanahan said the city is following the state's lead on what information is released. Only first responders, like Chitwood, have access to specific details on locations where individuals are being monitored or are in self-quarantine due to the coronavirus.

People who have scheduled private functions at city facilities between now and March 31, such as weddings, will be contacted by Leisure Services as buildings like the Environmental Discovery Center and The Casements will be closed. The CDC is currently recommending gatherings of 50 people or more be canceled or postponed. 

City Hall remains open, but residents are encouraged to use the city's website to pay for utilities, permits and licenses. Parks remain open, and are being cleaned twice a day. Shanahan reported toilet paper has been stolen out of park bathrooms. 

The City Commission meeting and workshop scheduled for Tuesday, March 16 has also been canceled, and so has the April 7 commission meeting. Partington was given the authority to cancel more commission meetings if needed, and as of right now, advisory board meetings will begin again on April 21. 

“Please remember that we’re all in this together," Partington said. "Each of your actions plays a role in our community’s health.”

This story was updated at 11:13 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17, to reflect the current number of COVID-19 cases in Volusia. At the time of original publication, there were six. 

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