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Clay County officials ask for food bank donations, urge against social gatherings amid COVID-19 pandemic

Clay County officials held a press conference Friday afternoon to update the public on their efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 and "flatten the curve".

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — Clay County officials held a press conference Friday afternoon to update the public on their efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 and "flatten the curve".

The county has 20 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. There were four deaths from the virus and ten hospitalizations. 

Clay County Emergency Manager John Ward said their public parks remain open but urged people to maintain social distancing standards. 

"We are seeing people starting to get complacent," Ward said. 

He said they are operating a main food bank that will last long term as they expect the feeding need to grow. For donation information, people can go to the local food banks or call 877-252-9362 for the Human Services Division.

Ward said the regional testing site remains in Jacksonville in the parking lot of TIAA Bank from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. or until they meet their 250 tests per day maximum, which sometimes happens in the afternoon. 

Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels said they are restricting all access to their law enforcement facilities. He provided the phone numbers to the sheriff's department lobbies:

  • Green Cove Springs: 904-529-5904
  •  Middleburg: 904-213-6120
  • Orange Park: 904-213-6600

They are screening all staff, law enforcement personnel and jail inmates, as well as working on a contingency plan in case they need to "scale down" their force. Currently, they are still fully staffed and working as usual to "fight crime", said Daniels. However, they have canceled all community events. 

"You are safer at home where you can control your own environment and cleanliness," Daniels said. 

Orange Park Mayor Connie Thomas once again asked the public to stop "surge buying" at local stores. 

She said there are still plenty of groceries to go around and trucks are coming in as scheduled.

Distance learning for Clay County students will begin April 1. The school district is working to deliver chrome books to parents so they can continue their child's education at home.

Parents can go to www.oneclay.net/coronavirus to register for a chrome book if needed. 

The school district is still offering students breakfast from 8 a.m. until 9 a.m. and lunch from noon until 1 p.m. at the following schools:  

  • Clay Elementary
  • Middleburg Elementary
  • S. Bryan Jennings
  • Keystone Heights High School
  • Charles E. Bennett
  • W.E. Cherry
  • Ridgeview Elementary 
  • Wilkinson Elementary

County Manager Howard Wannamaker said as of 8 a.m. Friday morning they extended the local state of emergency to last another seven days, until April 3. 

All county and municipal buildings remain closed or have limited access and all board committee and county meetings have been canceled through April 13. 

Senior centers are closed throughout the county, but they are offering to-go meals for registered seniors. They asked people to call 904-284-3134 for questions, concerns or information. 

Wannamaker reminded people that the parks are open for individual use through sundown, but again urged people to avoid mass gatherings. He also asked people to avoid sporting events and to make sure to wipe down playground equipment or public bathrooms before use. 

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