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Mayor Curry stresses importance of working from home, urges landlords to be more lenient amid COVID-19

"We are going to come out of this," Curry said. "So to the extent that we can let’s provide financial relief to people so we can come out of this."

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry updated the city Thursday on efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19. He said Thursday marked two weeks since his Declaration of Emergency took effect during this pandemic. 

As of 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Curry said there are 74 positive cases in Jacksonville. He expects that number to continue to increase as they test more people. 

To this day, Curry said he has instituted three local orders: 

  1. Limit capacity in local businesses
  2. All beaches in Duval County are closed indefinitely, and 
  3. Employees who can perform job duties at home should continue to do so

He also addresses concerns over the beaches being closed by explaining it was for the greater good. After consulting with the beach mayors, he said it is "nearly impossible to social distance" when the tide comes in and creates less room on the beach. 

He also reminded people about Governor Ron DeSantis' statewide orders which include: 

  • Closing the dining-in portion of restaurants
  • closing night clubs and bars 
  • suspending visitation to nursing homes and senior facilities

"All of these actions are aimed at flattening the curve," Curry said. 

He said in the last 24 hours, his office has received dozens of complaints from people saying their employer was not allowing employees to work from home. He said employers and employees need to get together and "figure this out" to prevent the government from having to get involved. 

Curry said other counties that have decided to initiate Shelter in Place orders have seen some businesses completely shut down, and that is something they are trying to avoid in Jacksonville. Curry believes the efforts the city is implementing and the emphasis on social distancing should help "flatten the curve". 

By next week, Curry said he expects to announce an idea to the public that will include city supported relief for small businesses and individuals who have lost their jobs.

“Obviously that is an idea," Curry said."That once we’ve fleshed it out we will work with our members of City Council, we will need their input and support so we can in fact get relief to small businesses."

He asked people to utilize Northeast Florida's United Way 221 Call Center for help with financial assistance and mental health services, along with other resources during this time. 

The local Salvation Army is also continuing its food ministry program, Curry said. People can donate to the First Coast Relief Fund to help other non-profits, which was reactivated last week. 

He again urged people to follow his order to avoid gatherings of more than ten people at a time. He said any events being held for food distribution must follow social distancing practices or they will be asked to shut down. 

Curry said for landlords to "please be lenient to people during these trying times". Evictions have been placed on hold by the city. If landlords force people out who are struggling with rent, he said that will only put a greater hardship on the entire economy and delay the process of everyone getting back on their feet. 

As the testing sites continue in Downtown Jacksonville, questions over how people who are homeless and people who are without vehicles should get tested have not specifically been addressed, other than the recommendation that those individuals need to contact their primary care physician or use the Telehealth app and website to be screened. 

“We are going to come out of this," Curry said. "We are going to come out of this. So to the extent that we can let’s provide financial relief to people so we can come out of this."

He asked for everyone to be extra generous and lenient on employees, renters, colleagues and friends as families struggle to adapt to these new norms, many of whom may be out of work right now. 

“For those of you who are praying people, I ask for you to pray for our city and pray for our citizens as we all do the hard work that we have to do, the actionable work, to get through the COVID-19 crisis," Curry said. "We’re all in this together.”

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