32963 Homepage

Want to purchase reprints of your favorite 32963 or photos?

Copies of Vero Beach 32963 can be obtained at the following locations:


Our office HQ: (located at 4855 North A1A)
1. Corey's Pharmacy
2. 7-Eleven

(South A1A)
3. Major Real Estate Offices


1. Vero Beach Book

2. Classic Car Wash
3. Divine Animal
4. Sunshine Furniture

5. Many Medical

No one checks on self-quarantine of visitors from NYC

Photo: Elite Airways’ flight landing in Vero Beach.

Elite Airways’ flights, when running at capacity, potentially bring about 100 passengers to Vero from the New York metropolitan area each week, so it’s important to know who is making sure these visitors are self-quarantined for 14 days to stop any spread of the novel coronavirus to this area.

The bottom line is no one follows up with these travelers.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ highly publicized executive order regarding folks coming to Florida from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut is a total sham.

USA Today last week made a really big deal over “fact checking” whether travelers disembarking in Florida are actually filling out the form now required for people coming from COVID-19 hot spots. It declared DeSantis’ statement that nearly 80,000 such forms had been collected from people arriving by plane and via our highway system to be “True.”

What USA Today did not bother to ask was whether those forms are put to any use, or whether there is any follow-up with those New York area travelers. 

When Elite relaunched flights into the Vero Beach Regional Airport earlier this month, Vero Beach 32963 started digging into what happens after passengers submit the “traveler forms” upon disembarking at the Vero Beach Regional Airport.

The travelers covered by those forms are supposed to self-quarantine for 14 days upon entering the state.

First, we tried to find out who is in charge of the effort to track, in a timely manner, these visitors.

It should be the Health Department, right? Wrong. It turned out to be the very same agency that takes an eternity to tear up and repair our state roads.

“The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is leading the coordination of Department of Health and the Florida Highway Patrol to implement Executive Order 20-80,” said Indian River Health Department spokesperson Stacy Brock. FDOT is also charged with carrying out Executive Order 20-86 governing people who drive into Florida from hot beds of COVID-19 activity.

But FDOT does not have people on the ground at every small airport, so staffers from the Indian River County Department of Health meet people at the airport to collect the forms and counsel travelers on how to self-quarantine, right?

Wrong again. The Health Department told us to call the Vero Beach Police Department.

Vero Police Chief David Currey explained his agency’s limited involvement with the traveler forms. “Right now there are two incoming flights from Newark International each week.  Our airport staff collects the forms, and we are delivering them to the (county) Emergency Operations Center for review.”

Indian River County Fire-Rescue Chief Tad Stone confirmed that he’d been receiving the traveler forms, but things got a little fuzzy – jurisdictionally speaking – from there.

“There was initially a bit of confusion about the travelers forms and which state agency was to maintain custody. It was originally thought the FDOT was the lead agency for these actions but as of today I believe that the FDOH will be handling these forms,” Stone said on May 18.  “I asked Vero police department to just bring the forms to the EOC and we would put them in a secure location till all of the ‘ownership’ issues were worked through.”

The next morning, Stone turned over the forms to the Indian River County Health Department.

So the Health Department staff surely jumped on those forms, calling every single one of those visiting families to make sure they’re in quarantine, and to ask them if anyone in their party has a fever, cough or other coronavirus symptom, right? Wrong yet again.

No one is contacting these people. After badgering the Health Department for three days and drilling down through bureaucratic non-answer after bureaucratic non-answer, we finally got them to admit it.

This is the clearest answer we could get from spokesperson Brock:

“The Florida Department of Health asks individuals arriving from states, such as New York, New Jersey and Louisiana to monitor their symptoms for 14 days after they arrive in Florida and to self-isolate during that time. If they develop symptoms, they are to contact their local health department. The Florida Department of Health contacts individuals if they develop COVID-19 and contacts those who are considered close contacts,” Brock said.

And how does the Health Department “ask” them to monitor their symptoms and self-isolate? 

Turns out it is by having airport staff hand them a piece of paper.

“At the airport, passengers were given COVID-19 information and education, as well as the Governor’s Executive Order and to contact the Florida Department of Health should they develop symptoms,” Brock said.

So not unless the out-of-state travelers voluntarily call the Health Department – or unless they end up in one of our hospitals – do they have any contact with a public health official after they land in Vero?

The only time the travelers might get flagged is if they happen to get in trouble with the law during their visit. “Per the Governor’s order, law enforcement would be enforcing the quarantine order and currently we have not had a report of individuals violating the order,” Brock said.

If they were motivated to do so, could the Indian River County Health Department handle the task of calling these travelers to make sure they are not out on our beaches, in our stores and in our restaurants potentially infecting locals? Possibly.

Brock said Indian River County has 14 full-time people currently tasked with all aspects of COVID-19 contact tracing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that each county have from 15 to 30 staffers working on contact tracing per 100,000 population. For Indian River County that would mean 24 to 48 people. So our county is 10 people below the bare minimum.

If the county experiences a sharp uptick in cases, Brock said, then the Health Department would beef up its contact-tracing capacity.

“Many other staff, apart from the 14 epidemiological staff that are currently working on contact tracing, have been cross-trained to handle surge. At this time, Indian River has enough contact tracers to meet the operational demand. Should the need for additional contact tracers arise, the Department will reassess,” Brock said.

Meanwhile, critical decisions about reopening the economy are being made by state and local governments based upon the false sense of security that travelers from COVID-19 hot spots like NYC have been ordered into 14-day self-quarantine, and the Health Department is making sure these travelers are not spreading the virus.