Here is the latest on Highlands County’s response to the coronavirus and COVID-19:
There are still NO confirmed cases of the the virus in Highlands County.
The Highlands County Board of County Commissioners declared a local state of emergency today. This will be in effect for the next seven days, and could be extended.
The declaration provides the BCC with the powers necessary to coordinate and implement plans aimed at protecting people and property. A local declaration of emergency is necessary to secure mutual aid from local, state and federal agencies. It will also allow the Highlands County Sheriff to establish, modify, enforce and terminate a curfew in the unincorporated areas of Highlands County if the need arises (there is NO curfew in place at this time).
With this declaration, all public meetings of advisory boards, councils, committees and other advisory boards that serve the Board of County Commissioners are postponed or canceled until further notice. The only exception being meetings involving matters of critical importance for which time is of the essence. The county has in place the following:
- Facility cleaning protocols through the county Facilities team have been enhanced, following CDC guidance.
• All county business-related travel has been suspended for 30 days.
• Administration is examining all avenues for potential telework scenarios, should that become necessary.
• All non-critical business meetings have been canceled for the next 30 days.
• All public library community events have been canceled or postponed for the next 30 days.
• Following guidance from the University of Florida, all in-person gatherings of individuals in the name of Florida UF/IFAS Extension Highlands County are postponed. The local extension office will remain open; online restricted-use pesticide license exams with a limit of five individuals testing at one time are still able to be scheduled.
• County public facility rentals are closed for 30 days.
• The county courthouse will remain open until further notice. Following state guidance, jury trials have been suspended through the end of March.
For the Highlands County Sheriff's Office:
- Anyone reporting crimes such as lost property, identity theft, telephone harassment and scams, vehicle burglaries or criminal mischief that is not in progress to please use the online reporting system at http://www.highlandssheriff.org/smartirclient/StartReport.aspx This link can also be found on the HCSO smartphone app.
- The Seniors vs. Crime office will be closed until further notice.
- All volunteer-led activities in the jail are cancelled until further notice. All incoming inmates are being screened for COVID-19 exposure.
- Attorneys have been given access to use video visitation with their clients, but are allowed to still do in-person meetings as long as they are not displaying symptoms of the virus.
- Video visitation is still open in the lobby of the jail. All equipment is being sanitized between each visit.
All county residents are adviced to follow CDC and Health Department guidelines regarding social distancing and hand washing. The best places for information continue to be directly from these agencies.
The Florida Department of Health COVID-19 page is:
The interactive COVID-19 dashboard for the state can be found at:
The Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 page is:
Please continue to monitor these websites as well as local government social media accounts for the latest updates.
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