Seminole County

8 COVID-19 cases confirmed in Seminole County; sheriff reports 40% reduction in crime as residents stay home

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — Since people have started staying close to home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma reported that there has been a 40 percent reduction of crime in the community.

He said most crime in the county is property-related, and with more people at home there are less opportunities for those types of crimes.

First responders said they are adjusting the way they respond to calls, in light of the pandemic. According to the Florida Department of Health, eight cases of the novel coronavirus have been diagnosed in the county so far.

>>> INTERACTIVE MAP: Coronavirus cases in Florida <<<

Lemma and Fire Chief Matt Kinley said they are screening calls that come into dispatch centers so that first responders can be prepared with the proper protection equipment if a caller is reporting symptoms associated with the flu or COVID-19.

“It keeps the public safe, it keeps us safe,” Kinley said. “It keeps our first responders in action.”

Whether those symptoms are reported by the caller or not, they said first responders may ask callers to meet them outside their homes as a precaution, instead of the deputies or firefighters coming inside.

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For calls that do not require in-person response, Lemma said deputies are making reports over the phone to limit deputies’ exposure. He said this is helping deputies to allocate their services to where they are needed most.

At the county correctional facility, Lemma said several policy changes have been made to prevent the virus from getting in. He said in-person visitation has been halted and replaced with virtual visits.

Lemma said the facility has also stopped accepting inmate transfers from other counties, and is not transferring its inmates to any other facilities.

“Trying to minimize the movements of people I think is in everyone’s best interest,” Lemma said.

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He said anyone who is being booked into the facility is being fully screened by a registered nurse and quarantined upon intake, to prevent any possible contagious diseases from reaching the incarcerated population.

Lemma said so far, there have been no reports of possible COVID-19 cases in any state or county correctional facilities in Florida.

Kinley said first responders are also monitoring their own health, taking their temperatures multiple times a day to make sure they are not developing symptoms that could be spread to the public.

For those facing financial hardships due to the pandemic, officials said they are halting evictions in Brevard and Seminole counties.

Donna Walsh, with the Florida Department of Health in Seminole County, said if someone is experiencing symptoms, they are asked to call the health department or their primary-care physician first before seeking care, unless the symptoms are severe or life-threatening.

Walsh said the doctors and health department can then make sure people experiencing symptoms are properly received at testing sights.

“This is a community effort,” she said.

She said the eight people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are all being monitored by the health department. Walsh said they are making sure the people have the food and medications they need to isolate as comfortably and safely as possible.

Experts in other fields said the coronavirus is also impacting their business. Realtors said while open houses are being canceled, showings are continuing as usual as the market in Seminole County remains strong.

Coronavirus Pandemic: Seminole County Update

8 cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in Seminole County. Story:

Posted by WFTV Channel 9 on Friday, March 20, 2020

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson,

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

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