I compare this whole thing to a slow motion train wreck. Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, or restrictions any tighter, they do and they are. These are scary times indeed.
As a city, we’ve taken a number of proactive steps to slow the spread of the virus. We canceled Chasco and other events, closed the library and rec center and limited access to other city facilities. The city’s official statement on the pandemic can be found at: https://www.cityofnewportrichey.org/community/helpful-links/covid-19-coronavirus-information/ I caution you that the city’s website tends to lag slightly behind simply because things are changing so fast.
Perhaps the best source of information are the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
The Florida Department of Health is publishing updates on the situation in Florida. They provide detailed information here: https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/#latest-stats. They even provide a report that breaks out cases by city: Scroll down to “Review case, monitoring and PUI information on the latest COVID-19 Daily Report” and click on the link.
Governor DeSantis has been criticized for not responding as quickly as he should have. While not closing the beaches immediately was probably a bad call, he has been generally on-target with his executive orders by trying to find a middle ground between doing too little and too much in putting Florida in a position to slow the spread of the virus. I commend the governor for doing his best in a very challenging situation. You can keep up with the latest executive orders from his office here: https://www.flgov.com/2020-executive-orders/
As I write this early Monday morning, Governor DeSantis is encouraging everyone to stay home as much as possible, but yesterday stopped short of calling for a mandatory stay at home order. Mayor Castor has announced plans to issue such an order in Tampa today. I’ve been asked if we are going to do the same thing. A stay at home order doesn’t make sense for New Port Richey unless it is part of a much broader order. We’ve got 16,000 residents. West Pasco has something over 250,000 and Pasco overall has over half a million residents. Shuttering everything in New Port Richey doesn’t do anything without everyone else nearby doing the same. If people voluntarily limit their exposure to others, a mandatory order won’t be necessary.
I’ll be going into my “day job” office today to assist several of my clients in setting up virtual private network (VPN) connections so that their employees can work from home. At some point, I’ll head home myself. My company is already fully prepared to do 95% or more of what we do from home. If necessary, we can get by for the next couple of weeks or more with nothing more than answering the phone calls that are forwarded to our cell phones, email, and occasionally checking for postal mail.
Most professional offices can shift to a work from home model. It may not be perfect, but it will get them through the next few weeks while our nation tries to flatten the infection curve and keep our health care system from being overwhelmed.
Final thoughts for today:
Do your part by maintaining your distance from others.
Buy what you need at the grocery store, but don’t hoard.
Continue to support our local food service establishments by ordering takeout or delivery.
Pray for our leaders as they navigate these uncharted waters.
We can get through this by all working together.
Rob Marlowe, Mayor