The Marco Island City Council on Wednesday morning voted to follow the lead of both the Collier County Board of Commissioners and the Marco Island Civic Association and voted 6-0 to open the two neighborhood beach access points which will give residents access to the beach on Marco Island.
On Tuesday, April 28 Collier County voted to open the parking garages and access points to those beaches within the county effective on Thursday, April 30. That would also include the south beach access point on Swallow Avenue on Marco Island.
On that same day, the Marco Island Civic Association announced that it would be reopening its Residents Beach Parking lot to its members as well as the Sarazen Park at the south end of the island. The restroom facilities and the beach grill will open at 9am on Friday May 1st.
The city council was unanimous in its support of opening the two neighborhood access points under its control on Wednesday, to coincide with the Thursday opening announced earlier by both the county and MICA. Those access points are at the intersection of Winterberry Drive and South Collier Boulevard and also at South Collier Boulevard and Maple Avenue.
The council would also inform City Manager Michael McNees that it was in agreement to allow the county to reopen the Caxambas boat launch area to public access. It had previously requested the county to close that park to public access, with the exception of marine gas sales.
At their meeting on Monday morning they would hear from Stephanie Vick of the Florida Department of Health regarding the latest updates concerning the COVID-19 issues. Vick had given a similar update to the Collier County Commissioners on Tuesday.
Vick would advise the council that there had been no identified treatments or vaccines developed as of this time regarding the viral outbreak.
At this time there have been a total of 11 cases identified here on Marco Island and a total of 562 cases within Collier County. The trend has remained relatively flat recently with no shortages of beds within healthcare facilities or of ventilators. She would also report they were only testing those considered in “high risk” categories.
Vick would go on to report Marco’s data points to residents taking the advisories from health agencies very seriously, while doing a good job in regard to “social distancing” and other suggested ways to reduce exposure to the virus.
She would also report that NCH has procured technology which will allow for testing for anti-bodies. This equipment should go online shortly, but a vaccine could be a year to 18 months away. She would also emphasis the continued need for “social distancing,” masks and aggressive hand washing as a way to help limit the spread of the disease.
REED UPDATES MEMBERS ON CONVERSATIONS
Councilor Reed would update his fellow councilors on his recent discussions with Paul Hiltz, the CEO of NCH. According to those discussions the hospital ICU unit is only 50% occupied, they have more than adequate ventilators and the ER is only running at 50% capacity. Of the recent 8 deaths, 4 of those were actually “end of life” scenarios.
NCH has two FEMA tents on stand-by and have nine germ cleaning robots presently in operation sanitizing the facilities. They also have a one-year supply of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) on hand. They also have an adequate supply of gowns with more in the process of being delivered.
“Our citizens should be more than confident that our healthcare professionals and facilities are in great shape,” said Reed.
City Manager McNees would caution council that they would have to wait for the announcement from today’s briefing by the governor regarding the plans for moving forward, prior to making any further decisions. However, he would suggest that council follow the suggested Federal 3- Phase Guidelines that have been adopted by the State of Florida . That plan reflects how to cautiously bring communities back online, provided the evidence is in place that supports we are ready to do so.
Council Chairman Brechnitz would remind his fellow members that there is little we actually have control of. That we would have to take guidance from Tallahassee in regard to implementing how fast the 3-Phase Plan is brought online. This will depend upon data supporting the speed with which the recovery phase happens. More of this will be discussed at the council meeting on Monday, May 4 when council again meets during its regular meeting.
The May 4 council meeting will begin at 5:30pm in council chambers and the public is invited to attend. The meeting may be viewed on Comcast Channel 93 or 98, Summit Broadband Channel 97 or 98 or Century Link Prism TV on Channel 93. You may also go the city website at www.cityofmarcoisland.com and view it on the live steam on Marco Island TV.