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12 Florida emergency operations employees test positive for coronavirus, center temporarily closes for cleaning

Written by on July 16, 2020

Florida officials temporarily shut down the state’s emergency operation center after 12 employees tested positive for coronavirus, shifting employees to work-from-home status.

The office, located in Tallahassee which runs as the state’s command center for statewide emergencies, including the coronavirus, is now closed until Monday in order to receive a thorough cleaning, reported the Tampa Bay Times Thursday.

“We’ve been conducting biweekly testing at the EOC for several weeks & mandated masks,” the Divison of Emergency Management said on Twitter. “The Division has had several positives throughout that period.”

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The division also noted that all employees that have tested positive for coronavirus have been sent home to isolate and quarantine themselves until recovered.

The cases were reportedly discovered after the state started mandating that all employees be tested twice a week for the virus, starting in June.

All 12 employees passed routine temperature checks, questionnaires and showed no symptoms, according to the division’s Director Jared Moskowitz, as the Tampa Bay Times reported.

“The safety of my employees and their families is paramount,” Moskowitz said on Twitter. “It is why we have had aggressive screening, temperature checks, since February, Mandatory masks and testing.”

“We will continue to operate and respond throughout this period. We are all in this together,” Moskowitz added.

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Florida has become the epicenter of new coronavirus cases in the U.S., reporting a daily increase of 13,837 new cases and a record high 156 deaths Thursday, according to the state’s Health Department.

The center, which typically activated during hurricane season, has reportedly been working around the clock since March – reportedly operating at a Level One status, the highest level reserved for emergencies.

Employees have been granted time off and are allowed to bring their dogs into the office in order to help them cope with the stress of the coronavirus pandemic.

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“There’s no light at the end of the tunnel for them,” Moskowitz told the Tampa Bay Times.

Employees that are not ill will be able to return to the office building Monday.

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