By Cindy Jackson
March 19, 2020
The Fernandina Beach City Commission has cancelled all meetings. Schools in Nassau County are closed, area colleges and universities have extended their spring breaks and beyond that, it appears that learning will happen via virtual classrooms only.
The Nassau County Board of County Commissioners, (while it did postpone a number of issues on the agenda for its monthly morning meeting scheduled for Wednesday of March 18 at 9am), the BOCC meeting was held.
Part of that decision may have been made because the commissioners were comfortable in knowing that its’ capital investment in information technology paid off “in spades.”
The sound is better, the pictures are crisp . . . the BOCC takes virtual meetings to another level.
At the start of the meeting, County Attorney and County Manager Mike Mullin was quick to point out that arrangements had been made for County residents to email their questions (LIVE) to [email protected]. That email address enabled residents to participate in “real time.” That email address connected residents to Sabrina Robertson, Public Information Officer, for Nassau County and once received, she was to enter the Commission Chambers to relay the message.
Dr. Eugenia Ngo-Seidel, Director for the Florida Department of Health for Nassau County, was the first to present. She verified there has been just one case diagnosed in Nassau County thus far but noted that more testing is now available and by virtue of that fact alone, more cases here in Nassau County and in the US, will no doubt be diagnosed.
BOCC Chairman Danny Leeper added, “We need to be in line with the private sector
. . . Whatever we need to do . . . now is not the time to grow government.”
She encouraged Nassau County residents to “look to our vetted sources and rely on them,” referring to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Florida Department of Health (www.floridahealth.gov) and the Nassau County Emergency Operations Services (NCEOS).
Greg Foster, Director of the NCEOS also spoke. A check of their website at 4:45PM on Wednesday noted the NCEOS is operating at Level 3.
For informational purposes:
LEVEL 1 is a full-scale activation, requiring representatives from each emergency response and support specialty (e.g., law enforcement, fire rescue, transportation, utilities, health, animal care, business and industry, etc.) to report for duty in the EOC as outlined in Nassau County’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. Shifts for staff are typically extended to 12-hour periods around the clock until the crisis is under control. Emergency Management coordinates the responders in the field ensuring life safety and protecting infrastructure, while workers in the EOC are planning for the resources needed to address the objectives for the next operational period. This level of activation may continue for several days or weeks, into the recovery phase.
LEVEL 2 usually indicates a threat is looming, or some large event or incident of concern is developing which could adversely impact our county. Staff members focus on assessing the situation, making preparations to manage a crisis, and determining trigger points for further action. The team is maintaining heightened awareness, consulting with subject matter experts, answering questions from the public and the media, and communicating with key stakeholders who will assist in the EOC if the situation continues to develop for the worse. Emergency management personnel, volunteers, and key individuals from other agencies may be working after hours or through the weekend preparing Incident Action Plans for enhanced public safety operations and to ensure readiness for potential local impacts. High-profile planned events, civil unrest, and disaster recovery operations may also be handled at this level.
LEVEL 3 describes the day-to-day “blue skies” activities performed by the NCEM planners and dedicated volunteers in the County Warning Point. Our County Watch Officers are monitoring local, regional, and world events while our Emergency Management and Planning Professionals collaborate with partners and stakeholders to develop plans, conduct training, and drill/exercise our plans to improve disaster preparedness throughout the County. During Level 3 Activation, the EOC is staffed from 8am thru 5PM, Monday through Friday.
The EOC is located in the Public Safety Complex of the Robert Foster Justice Center located at:
77150 Citizens Circle – Yulee, FL 32097
Citizen Information # 904-548-0900
For additional information please refer to these vetted sources:
Editor’s Note: Born in Hagerstown, Maryland, Cindy received her BA in Political Science from Dickinson College. Upon graduation, Cindy began her career on Capitol Hill working as a legislative aide and director. She later became a part of the public relations and lobbying team of the American Iron and Steel Institute and served as director of the office of state legislative affairs for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). Cindy was involved in economic development with the state of Maryland, and served as executive director of Leadership Washington County. As a community volunteer, Cindy participates in numerous volunteer activities serving as a member of Sunrise Rotary, and as board member of Cummer Amelia Board of Directors.