The Emergency Policy Group is exploring the best strategy for reopening Hillsborough County. The EPG meets Mondays and Thursdays at 1:30 p.m.
The EPG on Monday lifted restrictions on coronavirus testing in sites like Raymond James Stadium. Previously, you had to have symptoms to get registered. Now, you don't even need a doctor's note.
Anyone who wants to get tested can register by calling the county at 813-272-5900. You will need a photo ID at the testing site.
In last week's meeting, some members, like Melissa Snively of the Hillsborough County School Board and Plant City Mayor Rick Lott, expressed interest in reopening parks and beaches. Others questioned the need for a local safer-at-home order considering the governor's statewide order.
County Administrator Mike Merrill previously expressed concerns about that endeavor.
"When we tried for a couple of days early on to open the parks back up, there was nothing but bad behavior in direct opposition to social distancing. There were threats made to my employees. My employees felt unsafe trying to enforce, and I said, 'we are closing the parks,'" he said.
The EPG has now decided to put this endeavor on pause until getting further guidance from the governor.
HIRING CONTACT TRACERS
A document given to EPG members detailed the needs in Hillsborough County during the reopening period. One is contact tracing.
The document recommends hiring 200 contact tracers, professionals who are trained to speak with patients who test positive for COVID-19 and figure out others they may have unknowingly infected.
The county would begin with 20 that can be trained and activated now. They would be employed or volunteers assigned to the Florida Department of Health. The document identifies USF or other universities as a potential source of these human-to-human resources in the fight against the coronavirus.
According to the CDC, "Contact tracing is part of the process of supporting patients and warning contacts of exposure in order to stop chains of transmission."
LONG-TERM CARE STRIKE TEAMS
The document also details the creation of long-term care strike teams, tasked with prevention inspections and education. As well as on-site testing for assisted living facilities, nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the county.
RAPID DIAGNOSTIC (PCR) TESTING
The document states the county's goal is to have a local plan to achieve the president's and governor's goal, that anyone who wants to be tested can be.
It notes implementation requires available PPE, testing material, staff and money. The document notes expansion of these criteria will depend on the county's ability to sustain in light of the amount of PPE and swabs.
The county aims to sustain the Raymond James testing site three days per week collection and to open three to six additional testing sites. USF has offered to consider additional sites.
The county aims to leverage the Hillsborough County Healthcare plan network providers to all members. It wants to incentivize providers to accept non-HCHC Plan patients, the same way it's done with testing collection fees.
The county looks to expand mobile testing to hot spot neighborhoods. Hillsborough County requests that the number of tests collected daily at each location be submitted to FDOH weekly.
This is a developing story. Refresh the page for updates.