As Pasco County’s COVID-19’s positive cases surpassed the 10,000-mark, local officials continue to consider their best responses to the threats.
The Pasco County Commission and the Pasco County School Board were both scheduled to take up the issue during their meetings on Oct. 20, which occurred after The Laker/Lutz News’ deadline.
Pasco County commissioners were expected to hear an update on local COVID-19 conditions, from the health officer for Department of Health-Pasco County, during the board’s morning session.
During a September update, Mike Napier, the public health officer for Pasco County told the board he realized there was significant interest on when it would be appropriate to lift mask mandates and social distancing restrictions.
At that time, he told them the best time would be when a vaccine was available, or medication was available to treat it.
From a practical standpoint, though, he told commissioners that the positive cases would need to be lower — and he said he would report back in October.
Napier also told commissioners that he’s on regular conference calls with health officers and county officials around the region, and they were leaning toward trying to come up with a regional response to the issue of face coverings.
The idea is to come up with a consensus on the numbers and benchmarks to use, and to consult with academics to determine the approach, Napier said.
Presumably, the presentation at the board’s Oct. 20 meeting provided an update on those issues.
Meanwhile the Pasco County School Board was set to take up the issue of masks and other personal protective equipment during its afternoon workshop on Oct. 20.
Board members were expected to consider a proposed rule change that would require mask or face coverings for everyone on a school campus, through the end of the 2020-2021 school, in the interest of protecting the health and welfare of students, staff and visitors.
The proposed rule also calls for observing social distancing, washing hands frequently and using other personal protective equipment, as may be necessary.
The workshop session is a discussion only, the issue will come back for a formal vote at a later meeting.
The local government boards are considering these issues at a time when Pasco County reported 10,238 positive cases and 224 deaths, as of the latest information available on the morning of Oct. 19.
Pasco’s public school district reported 170 student cases and 68 staff cases, requiring 3,225 students and 338 staff members to be quarantined, as of the same time.
Also, Hillsborough County reported 45,290 positive cases and 751 deaths, and its public school district reported 741 cases, including 337 staff cases and 404 students.
Meanwhile, the number of positive cases across Florida stood at 756,727 cases, with 747,183 being Florida residents. The death count stood at 16,021 resident deaths and 201 non-residents, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Nationally, nearly 8.1 million positive cases have been reported, with 218,511 deaths recorded, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Wear a mask
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you wear a mask in public settings, when you are around other people and not able to maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet.
- Wear masks with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19.
- Wear the mask over your nose and mouth, and secure it under your chin.
- Masks should be worn by people age 2 and older.
- Masks should not be worn by children younger than 2, by people who have trouble breathing, or people who cannot remove the mask without assistance.
- Do not wear masks intended for health care workers, for example, N95 respirators.
- CDC does not recommend the use of gaiters or face shields. Evaluation of these face covers is ongoing, but effectiveness is unknown at this time.
The CDC also recommends you choose masks made of two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric. Be sure your mask completely covers you nose and mouth. Be sure that your mask fits snuggly against the sides of your face and don’t have gaps.
The best prevention is to avoid exposure.
Older adults and people with underlying conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, are at greater risk of a severe illness from COVID-19
Reduce your risk of becoming infected by wearing a mask, staying socially distant and frequently washing hands your hands with soap and water.
Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Published October 21, 2020
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