Concerned about large boating parties gathering along the St. Johns River and other rivers as Central Florida’s coronavirus crisis deepens, Seminole County has ordered all boat ramps closed effective 12:01 a.m. Sunday.
The order is one of a series that Seminole County’s government has executed since Gov. Ron DeSantis issued his statewide orders last Wednesday.
Seminole County explained its boat ramp order in posts to its social media accounts Saturday, including this Facebook post:
“RAMPS CLOSED: All County boat ramps will close tonight due to large parties on the river violating all CDC guidelines and White House medical team advisories.” The posts were accompanied with a picture of a large gathering of boaters.
The edict came as Seminole also announced its first death from COVID-19 on Saturday, a 91-year-old man.
“Seminole County is deeply saddened to report its first death related to COVID-19. As our community continues to combat the spread of Coronavirus, Seminole County Emergency Management paused for a moment of silence to remember the life of this patient this morning,” the county administration stated, after a press conference with Chairman Jay Zembower, Sheriff Dennis Lemma, Department of Health’s Donna Walsh, and Emergency Manager Alan Harris. “Officials, first responders and neighbors urge all residents to remain vigilant: only leave home when necessary, practice good hand washing and hygiene and check on friends and families with alternate methods such as phone calls, texts and video chats”
Through Saturday evening, Seminole County had seen 178 positive cases of COVID-19. Thirty-seven people have been hospitalized, and one died.
The county’s outbreak is following in the same pattern of increasing cases seen in neighboring Orange County, which has 657 cases, 87 people in the hospital and eight deaths, and Volusia County which has 134 cases, 33 people in hospitals, and two deaths.
Besides boat ramps, all Seminole County libraries, pavilions, sports fields, playgrounds, basketball courts, and campgrounds are closed, though parks remain open, with residents urged to practice social distancing.