There’s no escaping it — precautions related to mitigating the spread of novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, have become the dominant force in daily life for the foreseeable future.
On Monday, March 16, Polk County declared a state of local emergency in order to be prepared with resources to fight the spread of the virus. Polk County Manager Bill Beasley signed the emergency declaration, which was approved by the Polk Board of County Commissioners during Tuesday morning's commission meeting.
“While there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Polk County at this time, we must do everything we can to protect our residents and employees to slow the progression of this virus,” Beasley said Monday. “Polk County offices will remain open for business; however, we are reviewing work schedules that will permit telecommuting and possible reduced staffing levels.”
Per a statement, residents are encouraged to do as much business with the county as possible online during this time. Some closures and meeting cancellations have been announced.
These adjustments include:
- Closure of all community resource centers for 30 days effective Wednesday morning, March 18;
- Adult Day Healthcare centers will be closed for 30 days effective Wednesday morning, March 18;
- The Stuart/Ag Center in Bartow will be closed to community meetings and events for 30 days, beginning Wednesday, March 18;
- Parks remain open; however some leagues have cancelled games and practices. Please check with your sports leagues regarding schedules.
- The indoor Exhibit Hall at Circle B Bar Reserve is closed. The use of the Workshop is restricted and all tram tours and events are canceled for the next 30 days. Circle B Bar Reserve trails will remain open.
- The Rohr Home is following federal and state guidelines. No visitors, and only new hospital admissions are being accepted at this time;
- Polk County Utilities will not disconnect service or charge late payment fees for the next 60 days;
- Polk Regional Water Cooperative Board Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, March 18 has been cancelled;
- Board meeting and the Development Review Committee (DRC) will continue to meet consistent with established schedules. Some use of conference calling may be implemented for DRC meetings;
- and Special Magistrate Code Enforcement cases scheduled to be heard on Thursday, March 19, 2020 will be continued to the May 2020 meeting.
For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Polk County, residents can contact the Department of Health in Polk County by calling (863) 519-7911 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Florida Department of Health also has a dedicated website for COVID-19 at https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/.
Florida has also established a dedicated COVID-19 Call Center. More information can be found by calling 1-866-779-6121, or emailing COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org. The state’s call center is available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.