No follow-through on self-quarantine of out-of-state visitors

When Gov. Ron DeSantis announced in late March that state police and other officials would intercept Florida visitors from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Louisiana at airports and along I-95 and I-10, and order them to self-quarantine for 14 days, it seemed like a forceful but reasonable move that might help slow the spread of the coronavirus in the state.

So far, however, it has had zero impact in Indian River County. That’s because no police agency in the county has received any information from the state about people from locations with “substantial community spread” who might have been coming here.

The Florida Department of Health says it has collected thousands of traveler forms, which include the drivers’ contact information and trip details, but none of that information is reaching local authorities – at least not here, not yet.

Instead of checking up on clearly identified New York or New Jersey visitors coming into the county to ensure they are following the governor’s order to isolate themselves, police have been reduced to fielding calls from residents claiming that suspect out-of-staters are not complying with the law.

Police are also monitoring social media, where there has been a flurry of posts on Vero Beach-related Facebook groups from residents claiming they had encountered “New Yorkers” and other “northerners” ignoring the governor’s order.

“We had a number of those phone calls when the order was first issued, and I understand why,” Sheriff’s Maj. Eric Flowers said. “People are nervous and scared, and they’re worried that someone from the New York area came down here and brought the virus with them.

“It’s a very valid concern, but there’s not much we can do about it,” he added. “You see a lot of New York and New Jersey license plates in this county this time of year, and most of those people have been here for months. So, unless someone tells us, ‘I just got here from New York,’ there’s no way to know.

“Just having a New York license plate isn’t probable cause for us to stop them.”

Under Florida law, anyone who violates the governor’s isolation order may be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor and would be subject to a $500 fine and 60 days in jail.

With no specific traveler details coming from the state, however, the order is nearly impossible to enforce, despite all the social media posts and phone calls from residents.

As of Sunday, in fact, no enforcement action had been taken by the Sheriff’s Office, Vero Beach Police Department or Indian River Shores Public Safety Department.

“Due to the influx of people into town, we suspect there are more than a few who would fall under the order,” said Indian River Shores Public Safety Director Rich Rosell. “But suspicion isn’t enough to engage anyone.”

Since DeSantis issued his first order on March 24, Florida Department of Health officials, supported by the National Guard, have been screening passengers arriving at the state’s airports from the New York area and telling them they’re required to self-isolate for 14 days.

On March 29, when the order was expanded, the Florida Highway Patrol set up checkpoints on eastbound I-10 at the Alabama state line and southbound I-95 at the Georgia state line for similar FDOH screenings and warnings.

According to Stacy Brock, a local spokesperson for the FDOH, the highway screenings had produced more than 4,200 traveler forms with driver and trip details, including Florida destinations.

But apparently none of that information has been passed along to local law enforcement agencies.

Flowers said state and local law enforcement agencies participate in conference calls every day, but he was unaware of any database containing information on travelers entering Florida from hot zone areas.

Rosell said he hasn’t received any coronavirus-related information from the state authorities about out-of-state visitors who passed through Florida airports or interstate highway checkpoints.

Vero Beach Police Chief David Currey praised the state’s efforts but said it is “difficult to follow up” on everyone whose travel began in a COVID-19 hot zone.

“If we had information on a specific person, we’d check it out,” Flowers said. “But even then, all you really can do is tell them they need to self-isolate. It’s not like we’re going to set up a stake-out.

“The purpose of the orders isn’t to arrest people; it’s to keep the community safe and healthy,” Flowers said. “That’s why we’re trying to do this with the three E’s – education, encouragement and enforcement.

“Everyone should be staying home, except when they need to go out for things like getting food and supplies,” he added. “And when you do go out, be sure to practice social distancing.

Comments

Beapotter66 April 14, 2020

This is the most despicable form of government ever this is a joke what people are doing they’re talking about follow up on corentin when we came through the state border 2 weeks ago Florida Georgia I 95 there was 30 state troopers sitting out there we progressed for 4 miles into the truck stop waited in this long line to be asked one question what state are you coming from they didn’t ask for identification didn’t ask for proof of anything and just said thank you have a nice day i could have told them i was coming from anywhere even if i was coming from New York.

And and 30 state troopers really need to be there for whites why are we wasting all of this money.

And in the stores there’s pictures on Facebook and video of packed parking lots and people standing in lines to get into the store because there’s only 50 people allowed in the store but then there’s this line and everybody standing next to each other ship chatting as if its a normal gay why are these people out every day why are they contaminating things spreading this virus more every day there is no quarantine being followed no stay-at-home order being followed nothing even close.

I have been staying home watching all of this absolute nonsense.

F you really wanted to clean this up you would issue a real Q week mandatory stay-at-home order where everything gets shut down for 2 weeks with the exception of hospitals and 1st responders. Instead of $1200 checks or whatever amount of stimulus checks they’re sending out give people boxes of food for 2 weeks with a sensual idms in it this way anyone that has the virus can get well and while it’s spread it there are people out there that are just carriers you don’t have to have symptoms to be sick and it wouldn’t kill anybody to stay-at-home for 2 weeks and shut everything down instead of this ridiculous I can go to the store whenever I want to but yet you’re hurting so many people especially in the service restaurant industry the people that rely on tips.

I am so ashamed of this governor of this state’s love this county of this city.

This is what The Bible speaks of in Matthew and in Revelations.
Jesus is coming soon!

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