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COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Public Information Line

  • How many cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Florida?
  • Governor Executive Orders
  • Are the beaches open?
  • What are the signs/symptoms of COVID-19 and who should get tested?
  • My health care providers will not test OR I do not have a health care provider, what do I do?
  • What is social distancing?
  • My employer says I need a negative COVID-19 test before I can return to work. I just had a cold or influenza, what do I do?
  • Considering traveling? Including in U.S., out of country, or a cruise?
  • Returning to U.S. from out of country or visiting a highly impacted state?
  • How does the virus spread?
  • What can I do to prevent COVID-19?
  • Contact tracing
  • Do I need to wear a facemask?
  • If I were exposed to COVID-19, how long would it take for me to become sick?
  • What are the treatments?

Updated 3/31/2020 10 a.m.
There are 6,338 positive cases for Florida residents. 
There have been 77 deaths in Florida.

Okaloosa County has had 38 positive cases and one death as of 3/31/2020 at 10 a.m.
One positive case is a resident that was treated outside of the state. 

Stay up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 data by visiting the dashboard here.

Executive Order 20-86

  • Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-86, directing all persons who enter the State of Florida from an area with substantial community spread, to include the State of Louisiana, inclusive of those entering the State of Florida by roadways, to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into the State of Florida or the duration of the person’s presence in the State of Florida, whichever is shorter. 

Executive Order 20-87 

  • Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-87, ordering all parties engaged in rental of vacation rental properties to suspend vacation rental operations. Vacation rentals are prohibited from making new reservations or bookings and shall not accept new guests for check-in for the duration of this order. 

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation 20-009

  • Recreational vessel occupancy is limited to no more than 10 persons per vessel; and
  • A minimum distance of 50 feet between recreational vessels and any other vessel shall be maintained;
    • This distance provision does not apply to permitted mooring fields, public or private marinas, or any other permanently installed wet slips, and does not apply to vessels underway unless they are tied, rafted or moored to another vessel.

Executive Order 20-83 

Florida’s Surgeon General, Dr. Rivkees, is responding to Governor DeSantis’ direction and is issuing a public health advisory urging the following:

  • Persons 65 years or older are encouraged to stay home for 14 days;
  • Persons with certain underlying medical conditions are encouraged to stay home for 14 days;
  • All employers are encouraged to utilize telework; and
  • Consistent with CDC guidance, all individuals should avoid social gatherings of 10 or more.

Executive  Order 20-80

  • Travel from outside of Florida in area with substantial community spread.
    • All persons whose point of departure originates from outside the State of Florida in an area with substantial community spread, to include the New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey and New York), and entering the State of Florida through airports to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into the State of Florida or the duration of the person's presence in the State of Florida, whichever is shorter. This Order shall not apply to persons employed by the airlines and those performing military, emergency or health response.
    • Any person who violates any isolation or quarantine directed by the Department of Health commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, which is punishable by imprisonment not to exceed 60 days, a fine not to exceed $500.

Executive Order 20-71

  •  Restaurants
    • All restaurants and food establishments within the State of Florida to suspend on-premises food and alcohol consumption for customers. The listed establishments may, however, operate their kitchens for the purpose of providing delivery or take-out services.
    • This Executive Order lifts the restriction that prohibits a specially licensed food service establishment from selling package sales of alcohol for delivery, take-out or consumption off-premises for restaurants complying with Executive Order 20-68, through the expiration of the state of emergency declared in Executive Order 20-52. Alcohol sales to go with food that is pick-up or delivered will be permitted and I.D. will be required for orders including alcohol.
      • Any sale of an alcoholic beverage in a sealed container for consumption off-premises is accompanied by the sale of food within the same order.
  • Gyms and Fitness Centers
    • Gyms and fitness centers must close
    • This order shall not apply to gymnasiums and fitness centers which are: (i) amenities of hotels which have a capacity of 10 persons or less, (ii) are an amenity of a residential building, (iii) are interior to any fire or police stations or (iv) are located inside any single-occupant office building. 
  • On March 16, President Trump and the CDC issued the 15 days to slow the spread advising people to adopt far-reaching social distancing measures such as working from home and avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people.

Executive Order 20-68

  • Restaurants are to limit capacity to 50% of its building capacity and ensuring a minimum 6 ft distance between any group of patrons and limiting parties to no more than 10 individuals. Restaurants are also to screen and prohibit employees from entering if:
    • Any person shows signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection such as cough, fever, shortness of breath or sore throat.
    • Traveled through ANY airport in the past 14 days
    • Been on a cruise in the past 14 days.
  • Bars, Pubs, and nightclubs closed for 30 days.
    • This applies to places that derive more than 50% of its gross revenue from alcohol.
  • Beaches
    • Groups are limited to no more than 10 people and there must be at least 6-foot distance between any group of patrons. Local officials may enforce other restrictions.

Emergency Order 20-006 

Effective March 14 prohibiting visitation to certain facilities for 30 days. Prohibits individuals form visiting nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult family care homes, long-term care facilities, and adult group homes, development disability centers, transitional living facilities, adult mental health treatment facilities, adult forensic facilities 

  • Every facility must prohibit the entry of any individual to the facility for 30 days EXCEPT in the following circumstances:
    • Family members, friends, and visiting residents in end-of-life situations;
    • Hospice or palliative care workers caring for residents in end-of-life situations;
    • Any individuals providing necessary health care to a resident;
    • Facility staff;
    • Facility residents;
    • Attorneys of Record for a resident in an Adult Mental Health and Treatment Facility for court related matters if virtual or telephonic means are unavailable; or
    • Representatives of the federal or state government seeking entry as part of their official duties, including, but not limited to, Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, representatives of the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Health, the Department of Elderly Affairs, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Agency for Persons Disabilities, a protection and advocacy organization under 42 U.S.C. § 15041, the Office of the Attorney General, any law enforcement officer, and any emergency medical personnel.
  • Individuals identified in section 1 (those listed above) seeking entry to the facility will not be allowed to enter if:
    • Any person infected with COVID-19 who has not had two consecutive negative test results separated by 24 hours
    • Any person showing or presenting signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, including cough, fever, shortness of breath or sore throat
    • Any person who has or may have been in close contact with a person(s) infected with COVID-19 who has not tested negative for COVID-19 is prohibited from visiting a facility until 14 days after their interaction with the person(s) who is infected with COVID-19
    • Any person who traveled through any airport in past 14 days
    • Any person who traveled on a cruise ship in past 14 days
    • Any person who has been in a community with confirmed community spread of COVID-19, as identified by the CDC or a state public health agency within 14 days of their presence in the community with community spread
    • Any person who resides in a community with confirmed community spread of COVID-19, as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or a state public health agency

Executive Order 20-52

Declared a State of Emergency for COVID-19. By declaring a State of Emergency, Governor DeSantis is ensuring that the state and local governments have the resources and flexibility they need to prepare and respond.

All Okaloosa County gulf front beaches are closed March 21 to April 30. 

City of Destin public and private beaches closed within its city limits March 21 to April 30. 

Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

People with these symptoms should seek medical care with their health care provider since we are still in cold and influenza season. Please call your health care provider before going to their office so the provider can take precautions to prevent exposing other people. Review your signs, symptoms with your physician.

As of March 28, 2020, a person who is exhibiting symptoms of acute lower respiratory illness (fever, cough and shortness of breath) and meets one or more of the following criteria can be tested for COVID-19 by their health care provider

Priority One:

  • Hospitalized patients
  • Healthcare facility workers
Priority two
  • Patients in long-term care facilities
  • Patients 65 years of age and older
  • Patients with underlying conditions
  • First responders 
Priority three (commercial lab testing)
  • Critical infrastructure workers
  • Individuals who do not meet any of the above categories with symptoms
  • Individuals with mild symptoms in communities experiencing high numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations

Well people, even if they are a contact to a COVID-19 case, travelled internationally or have been on a cruise do not need testing at this time. 

If your healthcare provider refuses to see you seek care at an area urgent care center or a hospital emergency department if you are seriously ill.

If you health care provide is unable to test and not willing to see you OR if you do not have a health care provider, you can call our Public Information Line 850-344-0566 to determine if you are eligible for testing. 

Mobile testing sites are available in Escambia County

Santa Rosa and Okaloosa County residents should call their health care provider first, but if you do not have one then call Community Health Northwest Florida at 850-436-4630 or Baptist Health Care at 850-434-4080. Screening is required before arrival to be tested.  

  • Sacred Heart Drive-thru testing center
  • Brownsville Community Center (Community Health NWF)
  • Baptist Health Care – Call your Baptist Medical Group health care provider 

Other Providers in Okaloosa County Providing Testing (This list is not all inclusive to providers testing in Okaloosa County)

Advanced Family Medicine Clinic at 327 Medcrest Drive Unit A Crestview 32536 is offering testing for COVID-19 for persons with respiratory symptoms while supplies last. Call 850-423-076.

White Wilson Medical Center Fort Walton Beach- White Wilson Medical Center has a protocol for accessing medical evaluation for those who think they might need a COVID-19 test. WWMC requests you call 850-314-6300 for a medical screening and if you meet criteria for screening for COVID-19, they will instruct on next steps.

Northwest Florida ENT provides appointment-based testing through a drive-thru service. Call 850-889-4550 for screening, patient registration, and appointment time. This is for individuals with health insurance. 

Social distancing measures are taken to stop or slow the spread of infectious disease. This includes keeping at least 6 feet between you and other people, avoid shaking hands, avoid shopping or going out to restaurants to eat, take advantage or delivery or pickup options where available, and avoiding crowded places.

For more information about social distancing click here

If you are an older adult, information can be found here.

If you do not meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing, you do not need a negative COVID-19 test to return to work.
Avoid all nonessential travel at this time.

CDC has issued a Level 3 travel health advisory for a global pandemic (all countries)

States experiencing widespread community transmission:

Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Washington

Persons returning from international travel, a cruise, or an impacted U.S. state:

  • Mandatory 14-day self-isolation.
  • If a person becomes sick (feverish/chilled or develops symptoms of lower respiratory illness (cough, shortness of breath) during this period, they should:
    • Call ahead to their healthcare provider, notify them of their recent travel and discuss how to enter the healthcare facility in a safe manner to obtain a medical evaluation.
Returning travelers should practice good infectious diseases hygiene and implement social distancing practices.
  • Avoid shaking hands as a social greeting.
  • Maintain a 6-foot distance between you and other people
  • Minimize interactions with co-workers or the public.
  • Avoid interaction with persons 65 or older, with chronic medical conditions, or in an immunocompromised state.
  • Avoid going out in public at peak hours of the day.
  • Take advantage of delivery or pick-up services from retailers.
  • Avoid travel by public conveyances (planes, trains, buses).
  • Work with employer to implement remote work options.
  • Avoid crowded places such as large indoor events such as church, community meetings, concerts, etc.
  • If a person becomes sick (feverish/chilled or develops symptoms of lower respiratory illness (cough, shortness of breath)) during this period, they should:
    • Not go to work/school and self-isolate at home until evaluated by a health care provider.
    • Notify their employer/school by phone or email.
    • Call ahead to their healthcare provider, notify them of their recent travel to a Level 2 country or a cruise, and discuss how to enter the healthcare facility in a safe manner to obtain medical evaluation.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. It is currently unknown how long the virus that causes COVID-19 can live on a surface. 

There is currently no evidence of COVID-19 spreading through mail. To learn more about the postal service is doing to address the situation people can call 1-800-275-8777.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
  • Avoid crowded places
  • Keep 6 ft of distance between yourself and other people
  • Limit gatherings to less than 10 people

A contact investigation to any case of a reportable disease is confidential under Florida Statue.  

Persons who are identified as having a possible exposure to a case of COVID-19 and who have no symptoms of illness such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath do not pose a risk to other individuals. CDC does not recommend testing, symptom monitoring or special management for people exposed to asymptomatic people with potential exposures to SARS-CoV-2 (such as in a household), i.e., “contacts of contacts;” these people are not considered exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

When public health professionals are notified of a case of COVID-19, we undertake a process called contact tracing. Contact tracing is the process of identification of persons who may have come into close contact with an infected person. A close contact is defined as:

  • Being within 6 feet of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time, such as living with, visiting, or sharing a healthcare waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case or
  • Having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g. being coughed or sneezed on)
Contact tracing is done for many diseases including tuberculosis, vaccine preventable diseases like measles and pertussis, sexually transmitted diseases and now COVID-19. Contacts of a case of COVID-19 are placed in self-isolation for 14 days from their last date of exposure. These individuals monitor themselves for symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath. Public Health personnel stay in touch with the contact throughout the entire isolation process. DOH-Okaloosa provides the individual with a 24/7 phone number to call if they think they are getting sick. If a contact gets sick with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, that person will be tested. If that person comes back positive for COVID-19, then contact tracing begins again. If the contact of a COVID-19 case completes the 14-day isolation period without illness, they are cleared to return to their daily activities.
The CDC recommends  facemasks should only be used for persons who are sick, persons identified as having COVID-19, health care workers, and caregivers taking care of someone with COVID-19. Facemasks are not recommended for use by people who are healthy because surgical masks do NOT provide the wearer with a reliable level of protection from inhaling smaller airborne particles and is not considered respiratory protection.
The time between exposure to the COVID-19 virus and onset of symptoms is typically 2 to 14 days.
There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 infection. People infected with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.