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Clay County officials address first COVID-19 death, concerns over testing

Clay County is not setting up a drive-thru testing site at this time because the demand doesn't call for it, but if cases increases then they would act accordingly.

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — Clay County Emergency Management officials held a press conference Thursday to address concerns and questions regarding the coronavirus. 

John Ward, the Director of Emergency Management for the county, said they have been planning "for weeks, if not months" on how to handle this situation. 

He, along with other city leaders, called on the community to have faith during such a difficult time and offered prayers for the family of the man in his 70s that died from the virus in Clay County. 

“We want to express condolences to the family of the gentleman who passed, the whole family is in mourning now,” Ward said. 

Emergency management officials said they want to ensure that the man "did not die in vain" and want to do what they have to do to keep people safe. 

If anyone has a question about symptoms or how to get screened they ask citizens to call their hotline number at 877-252-9362. The call center will be open 24/7.

"This is not a hurricane type event, we are not going to be without power," Ward said. "We are seeing a lot of surge buying, which is causing the shelves to stay empty like they are."

Officials asked people to only buy the items they need to allow stores to restock. They also reminded people about the policy to only have ten people are less gather together and to maintain "social distancing".

Ward said if someone goes in to see a local physician in Clay County and they are asked to be tested for COVID-19 they will then be sent to Lab Corp, Quest or the Health Department. 

The federal government is working on hosting three testing sites in Florida. They will be located in Miami, Orlando and Jacksonville. Those regional testing sites are being prepared now. The site in Jacksonville is expected to open this weekend. 

They will not be testing a-symptomatic individuals who have not been exposed to risks, which is part of the CDC's current guidelines.

Medium and low-risk patients "do not necessarily need testing," Ward said. It depends on their exposure and travel, but "every case is individualized" depending on the circumstances. 

The symptoms for COVID-19 remains the same. They include fever, shortness of breath and a dry cough.

Clay County is not setting up a drive-thru testing site at this time because the demand doesn't call for it, but if the surge increases then they would step up efforts and act accordingly. 

So far the county has four confirmed cases and one confirmed death.

RELATED: LIVE BLOG: 26 confirmed cases of coronavirus reported across First Coast

RELATED: Duval county opens COVID-19 testing locations on the First Coast


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