The Voice of the Gem City

December 28, 2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Local Florida Department of Health testing centers reopen around the state today after a hiatus for Christmas holidays. Case reporting did continue over the period with St. Johns County showing two new coronavirus-related deaths between Dec. 23 and Dec. 26, bringing the death total to 112. During that period 582 new cases were reported in St. Johns, bringing the total number of cases since March to 12,407. Putnam County reported one new coronavirus-related death during the four-day period bringing the total to 69.  In addition 143 new cases were reported in Putnam bringing the total to 3,799. Flagler County reported 162 new coronavirus cases over the period. Florida Department of Health testing sites reopen today.

Two people are dead after a head-on crash Saturday night in St. Johns County, reports the Florida Highway Patrol. A St. Augustine man, 31, was headed north in the southbound lane of State Road 207 when he crashed into another pickup carrying five people, according to a FHP preliminary report. The accident happened at Brough Road outside of Elkton around 10 p.m. Saturday. The St. Augustine driver, whose name has not been released, had minor injuries. Two people in the other vehicle were killed — a 29-year-old Akron, Ohio, man and a 32-year-old Clinton, Ohio, woman. The 31-year-old Jacksonville man driving the vehicle had minor injuries as did a two-year-old girl. A 31-year-old Jacksonville woman in the car had critical injuries, FHP reported.

Palatka City Hall will be closed until Jan. 4 after at least seven employees tested positive for coronavirus. City officials say the contact probably happened around Dec. 14. People in contact with City Hall employees or Recreation Department employees are asked to assess symptoms. Other departments aren’t involved, according to a press release. Officials say a swearing-in ceremony for current commissioners Rufus Borum and Tammie McCaskill and new commissioner Willie “Slurb” Jones is still scheduled for Jan. 4. 

Out with the old and in with the new is always true after Christmas as people get rid of Christmas trees. St. Johns County is hosting their annual “Tree-cycling” Program today through Jan. 4 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. You can drop off natural trees at Ron Parker Park, Cornerstone Park, Davis Park, Mills Field and First Tee. No decorations or debris.

Palatka Police are reminding people some vehicles aren’t allowed on the road. That includes ATVs, dirt bikes, go-carts and motorized mini-bikes, frequent Christmas gifts. They aren’t street legal and can’t be operated on local or state highways. Police say they’ll stop anyone riding them on local streets and the vehicles will be towed.

After a chilly Christmas, area residents are seeing a warming trend with a high expected near 70 today and a low around 49.  The trend continues through the week and into the New Year.

New Year’s Day falls on a Friday this year, so get your business wrapped up early. Government offices, banks and businesses will be closed for a long weekend.

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