Communication Builds Our Community

City Tracking 8 Local COVID-19 Cases

Although Lake Wales leaders don't know the specifics about local COVID-19 cases, those confirmed to have been sickened by the virus are still being closely monitored.

Emergency Operations Director Joe Jenkins, who is also the Lake Wales Fire Chief, said while he is not kept updated on each infected person, officials from the Polk County Department of Health monitor them on an almost daily basis.

"The Department of Health has that list. They know who those people are. They check on those people and make sure they are doing the right thing," Jenkins noted. "They monitor all the confirmed cases, and those who have been tested but the test results haven't come back yet as well. We're depending on them to do the right thing."

Jenkins noted that the eight confirmed cases in Lake Wales come from any area resident that uses Lake Wales as a mailing address, and doesn't necessarily represent the number of cases within the city's boundaries.

Residents can get up to date information on where cases are located by visiting the Florida Department of Health website. On the home page, and below the large "COVID-19 Resource Toolkit" box, look for the small "full story" link below it and to the right. Click on that, and scroll down to the "see dashboard" or "see the report" to get information by city and zip codes regarding reported cases. The information is updated twice daily.

He also again stressed that individuals being proactive to protect themselves is one of the best things that can help slow the spread.

"The government can't do everything. It's up to the people as well at this point. They have to take responsibility," Jenkins said. "If they don't feel well, even if they think its allergies or a normal cold, stay home. Don't go out around folks. Any illness right now is going to be scary for everyone."

During a special virtual commission meeting Thursday, April 2, Lake Wales city commissioners asked if there were further steps that could be taken locally to contain the spread. The meeting was held just prior to the state's "safer at-home" mandates going into effect.

City Manager Ken Fields noted that for now it really wasn't practical to mandate more stringent restrictions on its residents.

"We have basically been encouraging the county, so that we don't get a patchwork across the county, to take the lead," Fields noted. "It doesn't work if Frostproof doesn't so something and we do. We all have to work together on this. If it's not a county-wide order, it's not going to work."

The commission will have a regularly scheduled "virtual" meeting this Wednesday, April 8 at 6 p.m. The public is invited to participate, and can find the live stream of the meeting by going to the "live meeting stream" link near the bottom left hand side of the city's home page.


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