News Worthy week ending March 27, 2020

Longboat Key Foundation postpones golf tourney

The board of the Longboat Key Foundation decided to postpone its April 18 golf fundraiser. The Longboat Key Foundation is a 501C3 organization with a mission to support Longboat Key, the environment and the people who make the island work.

The foundation will issue refunds to all who request. The board plans to hold the tournament in the fall, and payments can be applied. If anyone wishes to donate to the foundation, visit lbkfoundation.org .


All fronts in the Corona virus threat are increasing in intensity

911 calls of residents complaining of flu-like symptoms rose dramatically over the last week, according to Longboat Key Fire Chief Paul Dezzi.

The closing of amenities and public activities accelerated with beach parking eliminated, public tennis shut down and group life abandonded.

“We are seeing the closures on Longboat Key having a positive impact. We are not seeing groups in Bayfront Park or on the beach,” said Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer.

Harmer said the number of calls to Town Hall as well as the number of 911 calls has markedly increased with everyone concerned about the virus.

“We have to treat it and assume they may be carrying the disease and act accordingly,” said Harmer.

Harmer said that the testing capacity for COVID-19 which has recently become available in Sarasota and Manatee County will help. The tests are available with a doctor order.

Another major concern has been the influx of residents and visitors especially from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut where the virus is prevalent. Those who arrive are instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days and minimize social interaction.

Harmer says numerous property owners have called concerned about people who have arrived in their buildings from the New York City area.

Some residents believe and express that the virus is no worse and will claim no more lives than the flu or car accidents.

To this, Harmer says, “We are focused on the front line on how to keep people healthy. It’s a new virus with no vaccine. We are not scientists or doctors, we’re simply trying to encourage people not to gather, and one of the main reasons we are doing this is there is an effort to not overwhelm the hospitals.”

Harmer says that when the pandemic passes, there will be many lessons learned on both what we can do better, how to do it, and how to respond to calls. He said it will change much the way we now plan and execute government response to hurricanes and other threats.

When asked, Harmer’s clear that, “We are not out of the woods. I see more quarantines and we are clearly in the emergency phase.”

He adds that he doesn’t want people to panic, that many, the vast majority will have symptoms and get well.

But Harmer does say that the public needs to be patient and that government will not be able to “throw a switch” and suddenly everything gets back to normal.

“The vast majority of people do not die. We may have 40 total cases, about 28 in Manatee and 12 in Sarasota and perhaps 3 deaths between them,” added Harmer.

For residents looking for exercise or frustrated with this semi-tropical version of ‘cabin fever,’ Harmer says that the beaches are not closed on Longboat Key, simply the access points. People can still walk, go to the beach, and go to the park; but not in large groups.

On the EMS front

Fire Chief Dezzi said that four Firefighters/EMS employees are being quarantined for two weeks after being possibly exposed to Coronavirus through transporting a patient. He said that they have transported over the past week, about half a dozen people who displayed symptoms to area hospitals.

Dezzi said that one of the biggest problems are phone calls from owners saying people from the tri-state area are arriving and not self-quarantining. He said that the airport has increased its messaging to all arrivals to notify them of the 14-day necessity to quarantine.

“Some residents are really upset that we are not restricting and doing more and others are upset for the opposite reason, that we are closing the areas where people want to gather,” said Dezzi.

Dezzi wants to make it clear that if a homeowner association makes a decision to close an amenity it is not something town government controls.

Dezzi said he was happy to see people volunteering in a task force to help make deliveries to folks who are self-quarantining and also he said the town is looking for help in designing and implementing a face mask that would meet the necessary requirements. He said that there’s a chance the town could run short on protective masks if the situation intensifies.

CodeRed response

The Town continues to implement directives from the White House, State of Florida Governor’s office, and local emergency managers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency protective measures, and CDC advisories.

Longboat Key Town Hall, and other Public Buildings have implemented virtual customer service.  This is an effort to protect our residents, and staff, while continuing to provide our high-level of customer service to residents, visitors, and businesses. Customers can contact staff via phone, e-mail, and when necessary, an appointment can be made to visit a facility.  Town Hall remains staffed, and fully operational, to sustain all Town services.

A CodeRED Emergency Notification was issued March 25, at 11:00 AM advising of the Town’s COVID-19 Response and to visit www.longboatkey.org for daily updates.  Residents who did not receive the call, please register through the Town’s website.  The link is located under the “I Want To…’ tab and re-directs you to the CodeRED registration portal.

14-day quarantine if from tri-state area

Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-82, directing all persons entering Florida from an area with substantial spread (New York, New Jersey & Connecticut) to isolate or quarantine for 14 days from time they enter Florida and applies retroactively to all persons who visited those areas within the past 14 days.  They are also required to inform any individual in Florida with whom they have had direct physical contact in the past 21 days that they traveled from an area with substantial community spread.  Failure to follow Executive Order 20-82 is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment, or a fine.

Town Park/Amenity Closures

Beach and Boat access to Greer Island (Beer Can Island) is closed

Longboat Key’s 12 Public Beach Access Points & Parking

This includes Quick Point, Overlook Park, and Bayfront Park

All public boat ramps in Manatee County, including Linley Street Boat Ramp

Tennis Center

All active play areas at Bayfront Park – Tennis, Pickleball, Basketball, Shuffleboard and Children’s Playground.   

Sarasota County public beaches

Amenities at Sarasota County Parks

Manatee County public beaches

Public Amenities that remain open:

The Bayfront Park dog park, green space, kayak launch, fishing platforms, and walking paths will remain open.

Longboat Key residents, private property owners, and their visitors, will continue to be allowed to use the beach under current CDC restrictions.

Please remember CDC recommended protective measures as you enjoy the remaining public amenities open at the Town’s parks: 6-foot social distancing, and no groups over 10 persons, and personal hygiene re coughing, handwashing, etc.

Commercial Gyms and Fitness Centers:

Governor DeSantis ordered all gyms and fitness centers to close effective (March 20, except those which are amenities of hotels which have a capacity of 10 persons or less, an amenity of a residential building, or inside any single-occupant office building.

Private Property Amenities (gyms, fitness centers, spas, and pools)

Town emergency management officials have contacted private property multi-family, and resort properties requesting them to assess their gyms, fitness centers, and pool areas to ensure they remain compliant with CDC advisories.  They urge those properties that do not meet CDC guidelines (gathering places for groups exceeding 10 in size, provide adequate space to practice social distancing, or are not routinely sanitized) to consider closing their gym, fitness center or pool facilities.

Restaurants, stores

The following Longboat Key restaurants advise they remain open for take-out/delivery orders (check websites for menu and hours).  We will add others as we are advised of their services.  Per Governor DeSantis Executive Order 20-71, restaurants with liquor licenses can deliver closed container alcohol with take-out orders.

Euphemia Haye via website orders provides to-go service and curbside

La Norma to-go, curbside, and deliveries

Lazy Lobster to-go and curbside

Mar Vista serving to-go service, with delivery being implemented soon

Maison Blanche to go and delivery

The Shore has drive-up, and dockside pick-up

Whitney’s open for to-go and sale of groceries from Bodega

Bars, Pubs, Nightclubs:

Closed for 30 days effective March 17.  Any establishment that derives over 50% of gross revenue from alcohol sales fall into this category.

Other Delivery Services available locally:

CVS Pharmacy Delivery – 941-383-2475

Publix InstaCart – www.instacart.com/longboat-key-fl/publix

Publix stores and Pharmacy are open from 7:00 AM – 8:00 am on Tuesday & Wednesday for service exclusively to people over 65.  Stores close at 8:00 pm daily to sanitize and re-stock.

If Someone Suspects COVID-19

Individuals who suspect they may have COVID-19 should first call the Florida Department of Health, which has activated its call center, at 866-779-6121 or email at COVID-19@flhealth.gov  AND follow up with your physician.

Drive-Through Testing Sites in Sarasota County and Manatee County

Visitors to the collection site must have a Doctor’s prescription to be tested for COVID-19 and must have an appointment made in advance.  Proof of County residency is required (driver’s license, passport, utility bill)

Sarasota County – Twin Lakes Park, 6700 Clark Road, Sarasota, FL  34241

Sarasota County Department of Health – 941-861-2900

Manatee County – Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd, Palmetto, FL 34221  Manatee County Department of Health – 941-748-0747

Longboat Key writer Blake Fleetwood contributed to this report.

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