Bob Meade was recently driving pk彩票 from work — and he couldn’t help to notice the lack of facemasks on people.

Meade, CEO of Doctors Hospital in Sarasota, admitted he felt concerned about Florida residents and visitors becoming “nonchalant” about protecting themselves — and others — from COVID-19.

He has been dealing with the ailment at least a few hours longer than other CEOs in the state — Doctors Hospital was the first facility in Florida to have a confirmed case of the deadly disease in early March.

After the shutdowns of much of the economy in the following two months, Meade knows the nation can’t stay locked up.

“You really do have to open things back up,” he said Wednesday. “But you really have to take precautions.”

For some people, the start of Phase 1 seems to indicate the end of the threat.

“We’re not concerned; people are being too nonchalant about it,” he said, noting people he saw at a restaurant clearly sitting too close.

And while it may be partly because people are happy to get back out into the community, there are additional reasons some may not be following basic guidelines. There is a heavy influence of people suggesting COVID-19 is a hoax; others have not experienced anyone who has suffered or died from the coronavirus, Meade said.

“It becomes personal when it gets to that point … it’s miserable — even when its not as severe as it can be. People take it more seriously here.”

Doctors Hospital might have reason for that. After the first patient was diagnosed, it had to deal with CDC regulations that came out — anyone who had contact with the patient had to self-isolate for two weeks.

That included 64 nurses, doctors and other hospital staff.

“We didn’t expect to send 64 people pk彩票,” Meade said.

Luckily, assistance came from sister hospitals.

“People really pulled together,” he said.

And none of the 64 came down with COVID-19, he said.

He said that was likely because of already-existing protocols, the staff is already generally healthy — and “a little bit of luck,” Meade noted.

A new website, , is tracking states’ progress on the criteria that are supposed to guide when they can “reopen.”

The criteria include having a 14-day downward trajectory of flu-like and COVID-19 symptoms cases; a 14-day downward trajectory in new COVID-19 cases and in the rate of positive test results; and robust testing.

States that meet the criteria are shown in green on a map on the website, while states that do not are designated in red. States that are making progress are in yellow.

A total of 32 states were shown in yellow at press time, 18 in red.

Florida is one of the yellow states. Its 13% downward trend in COVID-19 cases is considered essentially flat, though reports of flu-like complaints are down and ICU usage is normal at 67%.

Where the state comes up short is in testing, hitting only 42% of its target, though testing is increasing and the rate of positive results declined 4.2%.

Meade said if the community, overall, gathers together, he worries things could slide backwards.

“Anytime we mix more and more people, the more it could become a situation.”

Sarasota Memorial Hospital CEO David Verinder, likewise, urges a type of caution.

“We believe that communities need to reopen, but that it needs to be mindful and follow the science,” he said in an email. “Our main concern is that people and businesses will not follow the prescribed social distancing and infection prevention precautions necessary to prevent new outbreaks in our state and region.”

Just a few months into the pandemic, experts and communities are still learning “how to protect ourselves and others from this virus,” he said.

“Going forward, I think we all still have a lot to learn,” Verinder said. “We need to stay informed and aware of what we should do to live and work safely while we wait for a vaccine and greater population immunity.”

He said Sarasota Memorial has “refined its practices and protocols” and is equipped to manage cases at the hospital.

“Meanwhile, we continue to work with local and state public health and emergency management officials to ensure our hospital and region is prepared should we experience a resurgence,” Verinder said.

Venice Regional Bayfront Health officials “applaud” residents who did a “remarkable job” to limit the spread by sheltering-in-place, it said in a statement.

“As our community continues to reopen businesses like hair salons and outdoor dining, it is important for residents to put their health first,” Marketing Manager Julie Beatty said in an email. “We have not crossed a finish line. We urge them to continue to follow CDC guidelines for protecting themselves and others in community settings.”

Like other facilities, it notes “safety” remaining the priority with a close eye being kept on inventory of its supplies “to ensure sufficient resources to support and protect the number of patients in our care and to be prepared for any changes in the current COVID-19 situation in our community.”

Venice Regional is also offering telehealth through Gulf Coast Medical Group. Those interested can call 844-366-9362 to request a telehealth appointment.

It is also important to take care of other health concerns.

“We want to remind everyone that it is safe — and necessary — to seek immediate help in an emergency department for serious health emergencies like chest pain, heart attacks, strokes and other life-threatening conditions,” CEO Karen Fordham said in an email.

Bayfront Health Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda Director of Marketing Bevin Holzschuh said the hospitals want to urge people to come to the facilities if they have ailments that need to be taken care of. Many people seem to have been delaying care across the nation because of coronavirus concerns.

”As we resume more health care services, we are focused on our patient’s safety and we will continue to take steps to create safe care environments for all of our patients,” he wrote in a statement on behalf of the hospital.

He said the hospitals are “closely monitoring” its inventory of test kits and other needed supplies “to ensure sufficient resources to support and protect the number of patients in our care and to be prepared for any changes in the current COVID-19 situation in our community.”

Holzschuh credited local leadership and area residents with helping stem the cases in Charlotte County.

”Because many people have taken the shelter in place guidance seriously and worn facemasks and social distancing when they do need to run errands, we’ve seen fewer cases,” the statement said. “Continued vigilance and caution will be critical to minimize risks.” class=”m_-912981021393482634xxmsonormal”}Michael Ehrat, CEO of Englewood Community Hospital and recently appointed CEO of Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Port Charlotte, said the staff at the two facilities “have thoughtfully and carefully reopened services” while taking several precautionary measures to help ensure the safety of patients and caregivers, Ehrat said in an email.

{p class=”m_-912981021393482634xxmsonormal”}The precautions include limited entrances with screening for illness, universal masking, social distancing, and continuous cleaning and disinfecting. “Surgery and procedure patients will be COVID-19 tested in advance of their scheduled medical procedure, and separating patients who may be infectious and the staff who care for them from other patients,” he said.

{p class=”m_-912981021393482634xxmsonormal”}”Our hospitals and ERs are open and safe, and we want to make sure the community knows that they no longer need to postpone needed medical care and services,” Ehrat said. “We are working closely with our physicians and the other healthcare providers in the area to get this important healthcare message shared.

{p class=”m_-912981021393482634xxmsonormal”}”We continue to follow the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and the Florida Department of Health recommendations. These guidelines and recommendations have evolved with the pandemic, and our policies and procedures have been updated accordingly. Today, we are well prepared to provide needed healthcare services safely, and because we deal with infection diseases on a daily basis, we are uniquely equipped to safely manage COVID-19 in our hospitals.”

{p class=”m_-912981021393482634xxmsonormal”}He said efforts by local, state and federal governments, and precautions by members of the communities, have “flattened the curve significantly.”

{p class=”m_-912981021393482634xxmsonormal”}”The same approach is continuing as we reopen, and as long as we all remain vigilant in following the recommendations such as social distancing, masking and staying pk彩票 when you are sick, I think we will successfully move forward in reopening our communities.

Senior Writer Bob Mudge contributed to this report.

Email: scott.lawson@

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