This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Putnam County had seven more people testing positive for the coronavirus Thursday. The county now has 12 cases. Although the state Department of Health is not releasing information beyond age and sex, there is speculation at least some of the new cases are from one family. Of the seven new cases three are women ages 69, 48 and 47. Four are men ages 47, 39, 36 and 22. In Flagler County the number of cases is up to eight and St. Johns County is at 36 cases. Reports show the U.S. currently has the most reported cases in the world; when percentage of the affected compared to populations are factored in a less dire reality is reflected. Government is continuing to urge people to stay home especially people 65 or older and those with compromised immunity systems. For all, wash your hands and practice social distancing.
Education will have a new look Monday when Florida public schools reopen after a two-week extended spring break. Students will be at home while receiving instruction from their teachers online. School districts in St. Johns, Flagler and Putnam have spent the past week working out details of delivery and teaching. Students in all counties are being urged to check out computers and hot spots are working. Call your school or school district if you’re experiencing problems.
Give a trucker a break. Some semi drivers are having difficulty finding parking spaces for their vehicles if they have to pull over for food or rest. Others report difficulty finding take-out food and even bathrooms. Remember those trucks are keeping the rest of us supplied. Toilet paper and all.
A house on Lake Santa Fe in the Melrose area burned this morning. Melrose firefighters were among multiple departments responding to the fire in Earleton on County Road 1469. Officials say 75 percent of the house burned before the fire was extinguished. A woman in the house escaped, but her dog is still missing. The State Fire Marshall’s office is investing cause of the fire.
Florida Highway Patrol is seeking information in a hit-and-run Wednesday night that left a bicyclist dead. The bicyclist was headed west on Fowler Street in Interlachen when a vehicle traveling east toward Marion Avenue struck the individual. The vehicle did not stop. Name of the victim has not been released pending notification of next of kin.
Beaches in St. Johns County continue to be open, but vehicles are not allowed on the beaches and parking lots are closed to traffic. In Flagler County beaches are closed but that’s not stopping some residents from going onto them. People with beachfront property or those who are staying at hotels are being reminded by deputies and officials that the ban applies to them as well and no one is allowed on the beaches.
A drug suspect who was allowed to go free on his own recognizance after being arrested Tuesday is back in jail. Authorities in Flagler County had been searching for Rondal Gibson, 31, for more than a year when officers with Ormond Beach and the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office arrested him at his girlfriend’s house. During arraignments the next day a Volusia judge allowed him to be released despite three felony warrants including two for failure to appear. By Wednesday evening Gibson was arrested allegedly after hitting his girlfriend while she slept in his Palm Coast residence. She called 9-1-1 and deputies found him in a car nearby. On first appearance Thursday morning Flagler County Judge Chris France order Gibson held without bond on the three Flagler warrants and ordered a $10,000 bail on his domestic battery charge. Gibson is back in the Flagler County jail.
Looking for something to do this weekend? People in neighborhoods around St. Johns County are following the lead of others and conducting a bear hunt. This one has to do with stuffed bears that are being placed in the windows of homes. As parents and children take walks in neighborhoods they go bear hunting. The idea was inspired by a book by Michael Rosen titled “Going on a Bear Hunt”. Sandi Hunsuckle who lives in St. Augustine says she’s already put out her bear Rusty in a window and is waiting to see how neighbors join in.