With supplies running low, the Ormond Beach Fire Department is making hand sanitizer for first responders and city employees.
Ormond Beach has partially-activated its emergency operations center, and despite the unknowns surrounding COVID-19's impact in the community, Fire Chief Richard Sievers said the city is as prepared as it can be.
The EOC is currently being housed at the training room at Fire Station 92, which the city finished setting up on Monday, March 16. It will remain active from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily until the coronavirus situations tapers. Unlike in the event of a hurricane, Sievers said that they are not increasing staffing levels for units to decrease the chances of spreading COVID-19 if a first responder became sick.
“Our main thing is not to contaminate our people and stay as safe as we possibly can so we can go out there and still respond to the public’s calls," Sievers said.
The number of people allowed inside the EOC is also limited to comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guideline of congregating in groups of less than 10. Anyone who comes in gets their temperature checked.
Alongside Sievers at the EOC on Friday morning was Ormond Beach Police Chief Jesse Godfrey, who said the Police Department is asking officers to cut back trips to the station and sending all nonessential employees to work from home. Social distancing, he believes, will be the cure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It's a stressful time for all, Godfrey said, and highlighted the city's Public Works employees who are also working long hours.
"It’s unlike any other emergency we’ve worked," Godfrey said. "If it was hurricane, we could do this in our sleep almost, because we’ve been through so many. This is a challenge.”
Those in the EOC are regularly participating in conference calls to relay that information to the city and commissioners. With protocols changing every day, Sievers said people can do their part by following CDC guidelines.
“The more they stay home, the safer we all are," Sievers said.
The biggest challenge police have encountered are people ignoring how serious COVID-19 is. Bars, nightclubs and restaurants have complied with the state's orders. On Friday afternoon, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an order directing all restaurants and food establishments to suspend on-site food and alcohol consumption. The establishments are allowed to provide delivery or take-out services, however. Earlier this week, all bars and nightclubs around the state were directed to close for 30 days by the governor.
People will need to change the way they conduct business professionally and personally, Godfrey said. But he said people should also take care of themselves.
“It’s going to be stressful," Godfrey said. "It’s going to be mentally and physically stressful, so when you can relax, relax."