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Input from Hillsborough Residents is Vital for COVID-19 Recovery Decisions

COVID-19 Coronavirus Update No. 120

Hillsborough County, Fla. (May 21, 2020) - Feedback from residents about reopening steps, economic efforts, public safety measures and more is important for helping business and public leaders move forward with COVID-19 coronavirus recovery efforts, members of the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group agreed today.

On the EPG agenda was a presentation from the University of South Florida and Hillsborough County Communications & Digital Media regarding the importance of creating a community dialogue on reopening efforts. The aim of the communications plan is to foster two-way conversation that can help business and public leaders make decisions, guide ongoing communications efforts, and prevent further spread of the virus.

Hillsborough County will be inviting residents to participate in additional surveys, virtual Town Hall meetings, and social media polling. They'll be asked for their opinions on phased reopening, COVID-19 screening and testing, comfort level in the workplace, their commitment to taking personal safety precautions such as wearing face coverings, and more. The feedback will be analyzed by a number of factors, including demographic and geographic information, to gain perspectives that reflect the County's diverse makeup.

In other action during the meeting, EPG members:

  • Extended a state of local emergency enacted in response to the pandemic. By Florida statute, a state of local emergency can be in effect for only seven days, unless rescinded. The declaration gives County Administrator Mike Merrill and emergency managers the ability to quickly take certain actions to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the community, and provides a path for federal reimbursement of certain expenses.
  • Heard a presentation from Dr. Holt, director of the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County, regarding how the agency conducts contact tracing when someone tests positive for COVID-19. Holt assured EPG members that cell phone app tracking platforms are not used in contact tracing.
    The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group is comprised of three County Commissioners, the mayors from the cities of Plant City, Tampa, and Temple Terrace, the Sheriff, and Chairman of the School Board. Authority is granted by Article 8 of the Florida Constitution, Section 125.66 and Chapter 252, Florida Statutes. Hillsborough County enacted Hillsborough County Code of Ordinances and Laws Chapter 22, Article II, Sections 22-23 in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the County's residents during declared emergencies.

The next EPG meeting is scheduled Thursday, May 28 at 1:30 p.m.

Other Hillsborough County News

Medical supply donations still needed - Hillsborough County's medical supplies donations site continues to collect specific items to protect health care workers and others dealing with the COVID-19 coronavirus. The site is accepting new in the box or unused medical grade personal protection equipment: face shields, surgical masks, N95 masks, Tyvek suits, and exam gloves. Also, homemade masks in all sizes are needed for non-clinical staff and patients. Supplies can be dropped off at the former Sears Automotive shop at 250 Westshore Plaza in Tampa. The site is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Agricultural assistance available - Farmers impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic can apply for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Agricultural producers in Hillsborough County can apply through the USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) starting May 26. To prepare, applicants should gather information including their farm's recent sales and inventory, and should complete eligibility forms available at farmers.gov/CFAP.

Other needed information includes:

  • Tax Identification Number
  • Farming operating structure
  • Adjusted Gross Income

Once signup begins, call the FSA county office at (813) 752-1474 ext. 2 to make an appointment. FSA will receive and complete applications via phone, email, fax, mail, or using online tools. For more information, contact Hillsborough County FSA team members at Hilary.Howard@usda.gov or Marcinda.Kester@usda.gov.

For the latest information about assistance available to Hillsborough County residents, visit HCFLGov.net/StaySafe and select the "Getting Help" tab.

Get Connected. Stay Alert.
For more information on COVID-19, and any other potential emergency in the region, visit HCFLGov.net/StaySafe and sign up for the HCFL Alert system. Additionally, you can follow Hillsborough County on social media at Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor for updates. For general County information, call (813) 272-5900, the County's main information line.

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