By Monét Bowen, Howard University News Service
Washington D.C.– Unlike other states, Florida had not ordered a lockdown as of Friday to ensure that COVID-19 does not spread and harm citizens. Jacksonville, however, has taken precautionary steps with Mayor Lenny Curry claiming that he will “use every executive function of my office” to make sure that employees can work from home. This includes cutting off water and electricity for small businesses that are making their employees work.
Curry signed an order for Jacksonville business to let their employees practice social distancing, which went into effect at 8 a.m. last Tuesday. Nonetheless, residents of the city still are not required to stay home. No curfews have been enforced either.
“Nothing like this has ever caused so much panic in the city, not even the swine flu,” said Monique Marshall, who has lived in Jacksonville for about 20 years.
Other states such as California, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Illinois have shut down most businesses except for grocery stores, pharmacies and takeout restaurants. These states account for about a quarter of Americans being told to stay home in hopes to stop the spread of COVID-19.
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In Florida, Miami-Dade County issued a stay-at-home order that prevents residents from leaving their homes unless they are performing essential activities. “The commission unanimously voted to implement a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.,” Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina stated.
Mayor Curry is slowly moving in that direction. Schools throughout Jacksonville have closed, and students are completing their work online.
“My nieces and nephews are now taking classes online so we just have to adjust,” Jacksonville native Charles Rudolph said.
Not only have public schools closed, but also private schools in the area. Major private schools including The Bolles School, Episcopal School of Jacksonville and Providence School of Jacksonville are also offering online classes.
Bolles announced that all four of its campuses will be closed to everyone except for boarders, resident families and essential personnel. Episcopal’s head of school and a media spokesperson from Providence announced that remote learning will take place as well for both schools.
All sports and extracurricular activities have been canceled for the time being.
The University of North Florida along with Jacksonville University havl transitioned to online in fear of COVID-19. Leaders of both universities have attempted to assure students that the acclimation process should be smooth.
Meanwhile, officials are paying close attention to the spread of the virus and will make changes to restrictions as needed.