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BAY COUNTY ISSUES UPDATE ON COVID-19

July 15, 2020

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Bay County’s total COVID-19 cases stands at 1,523 including 1,480 residents and 43 non-Florida residents. Eight Bay County residents have died from COVID-19. According to the Agency for Health Care Administration, 63 people are currently in Bay County hospitals with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19.

Protect the vulnerable by avoiding the Three Cs: Closed Spaces, Crowded Places and Close-Contact Settings and by wearing a mask in public:

  1. Closed Spaces. Avoid closed spaces with poor ventilation that could allow contagious droplets to linger in the air.
  2. Crowded Places. Avoid crowded places with many people nearby; the greater the number of individuals in an area, the greater the chances of COVID-19 spreading from person-to-person.
  3. Close-Contact Settings. Avoid close-range conversations and stay at least six-feet from others.

Florida Department of Health in Bay County

DOH-Bay is testing anyone with symptoms of COVID-19. For screening, please call DOH-Bay at (850) 872-4455 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and follow the prompts. Testing is by appointment only. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea, and/or sore throat. The CDC has a symptom checker available at CDC.gov/coronavirus. For additional testing options and information, visit Bay.FloridaHealth.gov.

There are three ways to obtain test results from tests taken with DOH-Bay; phone, in-office, and email. Please see below for instructions:

Phone: Call (850) 872-4455 and follow the prompts to COVID test results prompts and request the status with the representative. You will be provided with the option to obtain your results in person (if negative) or electronically (negative or positive).

Office: If you come to our office, do not get out of your car. Please call (850) 872-4455 and follow the COVID test results prompts. Please let us know you are in the parking lot and we will deliver your results to you in your vehicle.

Email: You can make your request by emailing baymedicalrecords@flhealth.gov. After you complete the authorization form, you will need to respond with a picture of your photo ID and we will send your result to you via an encrypted email. The email must be viewed on a desktop or laptop PC as the encryption is not mobile friendly.

Immunizations, including back to school shots, are by appointment only. Please call (850) 872-4455 to schedule an appointment for child vaccines, adult vaccines, religious exemption, immigration vaccines, and international travel vaccines. If you need out of state records transferred to Florida 680 Form, 680 Form, or College Forms you do not need an appointment. You can request these services via email at baymedicalrecords@flhealth.gov. A call back will be provided when these forms are ready.

Bay District Schools

Bay District Schools passed their reopening plan on Tuesday. This includes following the CDC guidelines which require masks when social distancing isn’t possible. The deadline for Bay Virtual School or home school registration is being extended until July 22.

You can read more about the plan here: http://www.bay.k12.fl.us/school-reopening?fbclid=IwAR04TAVltzHvY5fsv3sBfusX_nGrGnGUcyMfJSsj_DajaWJ1_jWqA_iE4s4.

FAQ regarding the reopening of schools can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/bay-district-schools/faq-regarding-the-reopening-of-schools/3518210121558364/.

City of Panama City Beach

The City Council passed an emergency ordinance Wednesday. It does not mandate face masks in public but does impose a mask requirement for those working in the public. More details on Emergency Ordinance 1533-E can be found at http://www.pcbgov.com/Home/Components/News/News/4461/18?backlist=%2fhome.

Ascension Sacred Heart Bay

Effective Wednesday, July 15 at 6 a.m. CT, we will be suspending patient visitation at Ascension Sacred Heart Bay. Exceptions may be made for:

  • Pediatric patients: One parent or legal guardian
  • Patients with disabilities or impairments or who are elderly: One visitor.
  • Patients receiving end-of-life care: One visitor. The phone number for questions about end-of-life visitor restriction exceptions is 850-747-6224.
  • Surgical patients: Patients requiring surgery or other medical procedures may have one visitor if the patient also meets one of the exception criteria -- meaning the patient having surgery is a pediatric patient, receiving end-of-life care, or a patient who is elderly or has impairments.
  • Emergency Department Patients: Likewise, a patient who comes to the Emergency Department may have a family member or friend stay with the patient, but only if the patient meets one of the exception criteria.

All visitors must be at least 18 years of age.

We will continue to require all staff and visitors to wear a mask inside the hospital. We also will continue to screen all permitted visitors, including temperature checks.

Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center

Beginning Thursday, July 16, Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center will temporarily defer the scheduling of elective surgeries as a measure to increase our hospital bed capacity. This measure will be implemented as part of established hospital surge plan and is being done to ensure our care teams can continue to deliver safe, effective, and compassionate care to our patients experiencing both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 health concerns.

Gulf Coast Regional will continue with urgent and emergent surgery. Low acuity surgeries that were scheduled on or after July 16, 2020 will be appropriately deferred at a surgeon's discretion, hospital policy and in consultation with the patient. The deferred cases will be concentrated in low acuity and those that may require an overnight stay at the hospital.

Gulf Coast Regional has implemented additional safety measures due to the current COVID-19 environment in Bay County.

  • Emergency Room - No visitors (Exceptions will be made for pediatric patients)
  • Pediatric patients, PICU and NICU - One (1) parent or guardian per patient. Parent can stay overnight.
  • Labor & Delivery/Mother/Baby - One (1) support person, per patient for the duration of the stay. Support person can stay overnight.
  • Hospice or palliative care patients - One (1), adult support person, 18 years or older, per patient.
  • Surgical/Outpatient Services - No visitors. Family member will be called to pick up
  • CATH Lab - No visitors. Family member will be called to pick up

Please note, any visitor who screens POSITIVE for respiratory illness will not be allowed to enter.

No Exceptions.

Main entrance Visitation Hours:

  • Monday – Friday: 5:30am – 6:00pm
  • Saturday – Sunday 7:00am – 6:00pm

Mental Health

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people of all ages. Fear and anxiety about the unknown can sometimes feel overwhelming to adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger. If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others call Bay County's Crisis line at (850) 522-4485. 

Public Services

The United Way of Northwest Florida is providing information on public services and resources available in our area including food banks. Please visit their dedicated webpage at http://unitedwaynwfl.org/covid-19/. You may also utilize their 211 service for referrals, just call 211 from any phone or visit https://211nwfl.communityos.org/. 

Rebuild Bay County may have resources available to assist persons in need. Visit https://rebuildbaycounty.org/ for more information. 

Convalescent Plasma and Blood Donations

OneBlood says they are experiencing a 500% increase in hospital orders for COVID-19 convalescent plasma. Convalescent plasma (CPP) is plasma collected from people who have recovered from the coronavirus. People who recover from coronavirus infection have developed antibodies to the virus that remain in the plasma portion of their blood. Transfusing the plasma that contains the antibodies into a person still fighting the virus can provide a boost to the patient’s immune system and potentially help them recover.

The experimental treatment is approved by the FDA to be used on an emergency basis and is called COVID-19 convalescent plasma. Patients who meet the FDA criteria can receive convalescent plasma.

OneBlood is working closely with the Florida Department of Health and directly with their hospital partners and physicians to identify people who have recovered from COVID-19 to be potential donors.  

There is also always a need for blood donations. OneBlood is testing all blood donations for coronavirus antibody. Results will be available online within 24 to 48 hours. Appointments are recommended. To learn more visit www.oneblood.org.