This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Area counties saw an upswing in coronavirus numbers over the weekend and health experts are predicting the state could hit a total of 100,000 cases today. The counting began March 1 when the first case of coronavirus was reported in Florida.
In Putnam the total is now at 237 cases. Sixteen cases were confirmed by the Florida Department of Health in Putnam County as of Sunday. Of those cases 15 are direct contacts to a confirmed cases. Eleven of the cases were from Palatka, the others from East Palatka and Crescent City. Ages ranged from a 3-year-old male to a 69-year-old woman. On Saturday eight new cases were reported. On Friday, four new cases were reported.
In Flagler County, total number of cases is at 226. Three cases were reported for Friday, five for Saturday. Among cases — a staffer at Grand Oaks Health and Rehabilitation, the nursing home in Palm Coast, and a resident at Tuscan Gardens.
In St. Johns County, numbers went up to 461 cases. Forty-one cases were reported on Friday, 35 cases on Saturday. Among possible causes a number of marches in St. Augustine regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. Few participants have worn masks or practiced social distancing. Also raising concerns, restaurants and bars where employees have tested positive.
Expect coronavirus numbers to continue rising in Putnam County due in part to continued large social gatherings/parties and more testing. On Friday 500 plus people were reported tested by the Florida Department of Health in Putnam County at the Price-Martin Center in Palatka. Many wore masks as they waited in line, but few were six feet apart. At a Palatka City Commission meeting earlier on the City Hall steps about two dozen gathered to hear commissioners officially make Juneteenth an official city holiday. Few wore masks and many hugged.
A water main break on the extension of St. Johns Avenue in Palatka over the weekend has been repaired. Still to be fixed is the hole caused by the break in front of Solaris HealthCare. Drivers are warned to be careful or find another route.
St. Augustine City Commission is meeting this morning to once again consider removing the Confederate Memorial in Plaza de la Constitucion. Taking a page from the playbook of the Palatka City Commission the meeting was at 10 a.m., a time inconvenient for many working people. The meeting was held virtually, although the city is talking about returning to in-person meetings in July. Most thought the memorial issue was resolved earlier when the commission voted to put up contextual signs regarding the Civil War but kept the obelisk that contains the name of some 40 residents who died fighting for the Confederacy. The obelisk was put up through the efforts of the widows, children and relatives of the men and for most was their only gravestone.
A flood barrier project expected to provide protection against a 100-year storm surge is moving closer to reality in St. Augustine. The Avenida Menendez Seawall Flood Barrier project has gotten money for engineering, design, permitting and survey thanks to a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Total cost of the project including building is estimated at $1.13 million.
A former employee of Coastal Health Care Partners, a chiropractic clinic in Palm Coast and Volusia County, has been arrested on seven felony charges after allegedly ordering prescriptions and practicing medicine without a license. Renee Caruso-Izarry, 31, of Palm Coast, was fired on May 15. She reportedly prescribed narcotics for pain management for a boyfriend and a patient, who was also manager of the Daytona Beach office. She was arrested and jailed by Flagler County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
A longtime youth sports advocate has been honored for his contributions to youth sports in St. Johns County. At Plantation Park on Saturday a field was dedicated to the late Keith Martin, a former president of the Creeks Athletic Association who helped develop the St. Johns Middle School Athletic Association.