In a tweet, the state’s Division of Emergency Management did not specify how many people had been infected but announced, “Those individuals have been isolated while we continue to test.”
Jason Mahon, a division spokesman, initially said the number of infections was slightly fewer, totaling 11, with four new cases this week causing the closure for cleaning. When asked about a competing account placing the total at 13, he said the number was actually 12, adding that the cases had cropped up over the previous several weeks. The division has been testing employees twice a week and also requires masks.
Florida has become the global epicenter of the pandemic, on Sunday reporting the highest one-day total of new cases by any state since the beginning of the outbreak. On Thursday, the state set a new one-day death record, recording 156 fatalities, even as Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and his aides continue to point to a lower case fatality rate than expected, with the governor this week saying the crisis had “stabilized.”
Leon County, which includes Tallahassee, has not been buffeted as badly as South Florida or other dense urban areas, such as Jacksonville. But cases in the Panhandle have risen steadily, with infections in Leon County surging beyond 2,700 by Thursday, according to state data.
The Division of Emergency Management, led by Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat and former state representative, last month said it would test all employees after a vendor who had been in the building reported an infection. Mahon said at the time the move was out of an abundance of caution.
The emergency operations center was put on Level 1 — the highest level of activation — when DeSantis declared a state of emergency in March. Level 1 requires the center to be staffed at all hours and prepared for deployments, a posture that would continue under a teleworking system, according to the Thursday tweet from the division.
The Republican Party is preparing to hold its presidential nominating convention in Jacksonville next month, though under a scaled-back plan set to include a mix of indoor and outdoor events.