Mayor Curry’s Work-From-Home Order To End Next Week; Overdoses Spike In Jacksonville

May 12, 2020

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced that beginning May 18th, his local work-from-home executive order will end. 

The order requires employers to allow their workers to work from home if at all possible. 

“I'm removing the mandate, but I hope that employers and employees will continue to allow remote access for those with children and vulnerable populations and the ability to work productively from home,” Curry said.

Curry also said he is urging Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to move Duval County to Phase 2 of the reopening plan because the percentage of positive test results continues to drop. It currently stands at 3.4%.

“We've had a month of downward trends in our percent of positives,” Curry said. “I think we're ready to go to Phase 2 next week.”

The Florida Department of Health reported 92 new COVID-19 cases in Duval County the last four days after 88 cases were confirmed during the week prior. But Curry said the recent spike in positive cases has to do with extra testing by the DOH and National Guard at assisted living facilities. 

“At the governor's direction, they’ve been going into the nursing facilities and making sure they get this under control [and] contained,” Curry said. 

Curry also showed his support for emergency legislation on the City Council agenda for Tuesday night. 

The legislation filed by Councilman Danny Becton would relax zoning regulations for restaurants and retail outside of their stores. This would give more outdoor space for businesses to serve customers and sell products in parking lots. The businesses would have to erect 3.5 foot barriers around the additional space used outside. 

Related: Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

The legislation also suspends code enforcement for businesses as long as the state emergency is in place.

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Director of Patrol and Law Enforcement Mike Bruno said regarding the Phase 1 25% occupancy rules for restaurants and businesses, some calls have come into the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office because of overcrowding. 

“We've gotten great compliance from the community and the organizers of the events, so we've been able to disband any of those gatherings without any enforcement action,” Bruno said.

At the same time, there’s been a “significant” rise in overdose-related 911 calls, according to the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department. Last year from March 13 to May 12, there were 644 overdose calls. This year across the same span, there’ve been 869 calls.

“So many of our family members, friends and neighbors are facing significant stress and hardships during this crisis, and not everyone is dealing with distress in healthy ways,” Curry said. 

Curry urged people dealing with mental health issues to seek resources on the city’s website

The city’s mortgage, rent and utility relief program has doled out $11.5 million in aid to help pay bills, according to Curry.  Meanwhile, more than 1,000 small businesses have received loans from the city and VyStar Credit Union’s relief program, totaling $37.8 million.  

Sky Lebron can be reached at slebron@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.