City Commission votes to purchase $63,970 worth of facemasks for employees

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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News
April 8, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Tallahassee City Commissioners heard an operational update at their virtual Commission meeting and voted unanimously to purchase non-medical facemasks.

Commissioners voted to spend $63,970 to purchase between 25,000 and 30,000 masks to distribute to the City workforce, as well as those in need.

The City will use funds from budgeted items such as Springtime Tallahassee, Word of South, and the Southern Shakespeare Festival to purchase the masks.

City staff is working with multiple local groups, including a Tallahassee-based sock maker called Divvy Up.

Operational Update
Commissioners heard an operational update from City Staff on almost every department that has been impacted by the coronavirus; they also heard from the Tallahassee Fire Department, Tallahassee Police Department, and members of the healthcare community.

Mark O'Brien with TMH discussed the Northwood Centre testing site; as of Monday, April 6, more than 1,000 people had been screened there. The busiest day was April 1, with 127 tests performed. O'Brien also discussed the need for continued social distancing.

1,000 City employees are currently telecommuting, and another 1,500 are working in rotational status.

According to the agenda item, Tallahassee has one of the lowest per capita rates of infection in the entire Southeast.

Tallahassee International Airport Update
TLH has experienced more than an 80% drop in commercial passenger traffic; nationally, that number is at 93%.

Despite less commercial travelers, other parts of the airport are more busy.

The local FedEx team is experiencing "increased shipping volumes and activity levels."

A Logistical Staging Area (LSA) has been set up at the airport; it has received 6 shipments of personal protective equipment as of April 5th. 30,000 total pieces of PPE have been distributed to local healthcare facilities.

Homeless COVID-19 Task Force
The Leon County Emergency Operations Center has established a Homeless COVID-19 Task Force.

According to the agenda item, that task force is "developing a plan for non-congregate sheltering through hotels/motels and apartment units."

That plan will be presented to FEMA for reimbursement pre-approval.

The Kearney Center is also relocating 220 clients to its Westgate Apartments and motels.

The task force is working on a plan for an overflow congregate shelter location.

Utility Relief
Commissioners heard an update on local, state, and federal relief programs.

As of Monday, April 6, 620 customers enrolled in the City's utility relief program.

The program a launched on March 26, allowing customers to defer their current monthly bills to the fall.