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Clay County Urges Residents Not To Get ‘Complacent’ As Reopening Moves Forward

A food server wears a protective face mask as he delivers food to customers.
A food server wears a protective face mask as he delivers food to customers.

Leaders in Clay County are urging residents to stay vigilant and continue taking precautions to help stop the spread of coronavirus as phase 1 of the county and state’s reopen plans move forward.

As of Wednesday morning, the Northeast Florida county had 288 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 19 deaths, and 71 hospitalizations,  according to the Florida Department of Health. That means of the county’s more than 4,300 tests conducted so far, over 4,000 have yielded negative results.

“That's a 6.6% positivity rate,” Heather Huffman, Administrator of the Clay County Department of Health, said during a news conference on Wednesday. “That's lower than the state rate average of around 8%. So we're doing fairly well in our community.”

Testing is ongoing throughout the county. 

On Wednesday and Thursday tests are being done at Omega Park in Middleburg, but there are no more appointments available. Friday and Monday testing will be conducted at the County Administration parking lot, but all of those appointment slots are filled as well.

Next week, tests will be conducted at the Oakleaf Sports Association on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 12 and 13, and appointments are still available. On Thursday and Friday, May 14 and 15, tests will be available at Walter Odum Park. There is limited appointment availability on Thursday but there are many openings on Friday.

Testing is only available to Clay County residents, who are being asked to bring IDs and their own pens to the testing sites. To schedule an appointment call 877-252-9362.

Clay County is partnering with Career Source to help residents get reemployed. 

Beginning Monday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., five days a week, there will be multiple workstations at the T. Jesse Godbold Sr. Extension Education Center at the Clay County Fairgrounds to help people find new jobs.

To make an appointment go to  or call 904-356-JOBS. Staff will help job seekers register with  Employ Florida, the statewide system for reemploying residents. Residents will need to bring a valid social security card, a valid email address, work history, and an updated resume. They’ll also be required to wear a mask.

For those who have previously registered with Employ Florida and need help with their username or password, call 904-356-JOBS prior to your appointment.

Last week, food distribution centers served 80,822 people, schools served 24,762 meals, and senior centers served 3,981 seniors in Clay County.

“We've seen a significant increase in the feeding need in our community,” said John Ward, Director of Clay County Emergency Management. “Last week's meal total comes to 109,565. Since we began this operation, we have over a half a million meals, 598,094 meals, that have been served to our citizens and this need keeps increasing on a weekly basis.”

To register for food assistance go to  Alert.ClayCountyGov.com.

Clay County public libraries will reopen on Monday, May 11, for residents to retrieve and return materials or use computers for an hour-long session each day.

For the time being, the Orange Park, Green Cove Springs, and Keystone Heights libraries will be open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1 to 6 p.m. and the Fleming Island and Middleburg libraries will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 6 p.m. For library related questions, or to preorder books, call 904-541-2758.

Animal Services will reopen Tuesday, May 12, on a limited basis and by appointment only. Call 904-269-6342, email Animal Services at  ClayAdoptions@ClayCountyGov.com, or go to  ClayCountyGov.com to make an appointment to adopt a dog or cat. Walk-ins and owner surrenders will not be accepted.

Clerk of the Circuit Court of Clay County Tara Green also made several announcements on Wednesday.

“The Clay County Clerk's office staff understands how challenging the last few months have been for many,” she said. “To better assist our community, while remaining cognizant of the need to exercise distancing to COVID-19, we have decided to reopen the Orange Park branch to provide limited services so that you can get important tasks accomplished easily and safely.”

The Orange Park branch at 1478 Park Ave. is now open for in person services for passport applications and marriage licenses by appointment only. To make an appointment at the Orange Park branch location call 904-541-2784. Walk-ins will not be permitted.

The Middleburg and Keystone branches will remain closed for the time being.

“If you need a passport for this summer or even into the fall, we urge you to go ahead and make an appointment as the expedited renewals will no longer be available at this time,” she said.

However, she warned only people directly involved will be admitted into facilities.

“If you have an appointment to apply for a passport application, and it does not include applying for your children as well, we ask that you make the necessary arrangements for the children and not bring them to the appointment,” she explained. “This is for the well being of all.”

“Like other government offices in our state, we are reopening this branch location in phases, employing sanitation and social distancing measures,” she said.

Glass partitions were installed last week on the branch counters to protect clerks and the public.

The secure outside dropbox at the Orange Park branch has also been reopened, allowing citizens to submit documents for reporting, court filings, and payments. Only checks and money orders are being accepted.

“While these limited in person services are now available as part of our phase 1 reopening effort, other court services remain limited to online, remote, and lobby dropbox formats,” said Green. “As always, if you have an emergency, or concern for your safety, please do not hesitate to contact the clerk's office by phone, and we will be more than happy to provide you assistance.”

Teen court appointments will be conducted remotely through May. Probation department appointments will continue to be conducted remotely through May and June.

Online services like electronic notifications of criminal court hearings, e-filing of court documents, and online payments are available and will remain available all year round. Payment plans for those who owe court costs, fees, and fines are available as well.

As of this week, petitions for domestic violence injunctions are available at .

Jury trials have been suspended through July 2.

Phase 1 of the county’s reopening process began Monday, with restaurants and retail businesses reopening at 25% occupancy and elective surgeries being permitted once again. The county is working with the governor’s office on phase 2, which Ward expects to be unveiled by the end of next week or the beginning of the following week.

“We are following phase 1 of the governor's safe, smart, step-by-step plan to reopen Florida. We will continue to assess and evaluate in the days and weeks ahead so that we may achieve full speed,” said County Manager Howard Wanamaker. “All other restrictions remain and we should be following the CDC guidance on physical distancing of six feet, social gatherings less than 10, and to continue to wash our hands and remain clean so that we don't spread the virus.”

The county’s call center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached at 877-252-9362. Up to date information on the coronavirus is at  Alert.ClayCountyGov.com.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.

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