Keeping It 100 with Sheriff Chad Chronister

Special Edition: COVID-19

Episode Summary

Sheriff Chad Chronister and HCSO's Dr. Toni Belisle discuss the impact of COVID-19 on Hillsborough County.

Episode Transcription

Amanda Granit

Hello everyone. I'm your host Amanda Granit and welcome to this special edition of Keeping It 100, where we're focusing on the coronavirus and how it's impacting our community. As always, joining us is Sheriff Chad Chronister.  Hello sir.

 

Sheriff Chronister

Hello.  

 

Amanda Granit

And for this special episode we also have Dr. Toni Belisle joining us to talk about everything coronavirus. Hello doctor. So, let's start off with what is coronavirus, Dr. Belisle?

 

Dr. Belisle

So coronavirus or COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is transmitted from person-to-person. It's a novel virus. So that means it's new so we haven't been exposed to it before so we don't have immunity to it. And so that's what's so concerning for us.

 

Amanda Granit

And how can it spread? How does it impact people in the community?

 

Dr. Belisle

Certainly. So it spreads person-to-person. So how does it spread person-to-person? Through coughing or through sneezing. So it's a droplet. So if you cough sneeze, you project particles into the air. And so a person that's in close proximity for a prolonged period of time can contract it. Potentially, right.

 

Amanda Granit

If they’re near someone who's infected.

 

Dr. Belisle

Absolutely. Absolutely .

 

Amanda Granit

And what can people do to protect themselves. Some basic stuff. We're going to do with,

we're gonna get into what the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is doing, but what can the general public do to protect themselves?

 

Dr. Belisle

So basically standard, good hygiene. That's all it requires. So wash your hands. Use a hand sanitizer. In this particular case make sure your hand sanitizers are sixty percent or greater alcohol-based. If it's less than that, you're not going to have the protection against any viruses, whether it's the flu or whether it's coronavirus. So the standard precautions that you would take for the flu, you would take for this virus. So washing your hands. Avoid touching your eyes your nose or your mouth because if your hands are dirty, there's particles of any sort, you can infect any part of your eyes mouth or nose. Right now we're seeing social distancing. So what does social distancing? Is being at least six feet apart from others. And so we got hand-washing, we have don't touch your face, right, and we have a social distancing. But also cover your coughs and your sneezes.

 

Amanda Granit

Pretty simple steps.

 

Dr. Belisle

Pretty simple steps. Use a tissue if you're going to sneeze or cough. Discard the tissue. Wash your hand. If you don't have any of those, go ahead and sneeze and cough more into your forearm verses into the crook of your elbow.

 

Amanda Granit

I'm just going to adjust your microphone real quick. So Sheriff HCSO is doing a lot to help protect the staff here and also subsequently protect the community because if we stay healthy, the community can stay healthy as well. What are some of the sanitation efforts that we're doing here at Hillsborough County?

 

Sheriff Chronister

And first of all, let me thank all our employees for taking these precautionary measures like Dr. Belisle says this isn't a time for panic. This is just a time to be smart. And could you ever imagine a world where someone picks up the phone and calls for help, and we have no one healthy to send them? So I commend the employees for taking this extremely seriously and taking these precautionary measures Whether it's hand sanitizing. Whether they get in a position where they have to answer a call for service. We're asking citizens to meet us out in an open area, so they just reduced that close contact. We're taking a lot more calls online with our new online reporting system. We're taking a lot more calls over the phone. Non-critical incidences where we don't have to respond. And again asking them to take care of themselves at the same time making sure that we're keeping the community we serve safe as well.

 

Amanda Granit

And I want to clear something up with the calls that we're taking over the phone or online. These aren't emergency calls. These are things that don't require an emergency response at that time and no one is in immediate danger.

 

 

Sheriff Chronister

You're exactly right. Just the opposite. These are non-critical calls that we will take over the over the phone or through our new online reporting. And this does a lot of things that save taxpayers money. It saves a lot of time because it's so easy and convenient. I mean it's just smart to utilize it at this time. Several times throughout the year, but especially in critical times like this, there is a declared county state of emergency, it frees our deputies to go out and keep calm within a community by being seen at

Stores, retail outlets. So that where there has become some hysteria where when things they need to grab 800 rolls of toilet paper. There's just no need. But you know it allows us to be more proactive instead of reactive dealing with, again, those non-critical calls for service.

 

Amanda Granit

Like vandalism or registration of bikes. Things like that. We're freeing those up so the deputies can focus…

 

Sheriff Chronister

Still an important service to our community, but just allows our deputies to focus on different proactive and more priority calls for service.

 

Amanda Granit

Certainly. And there's a lot being done for the deputies who are on patrol. A lot of resources available to them so that they can protect themselves personally. Hand sanitizers, gloves. Kind of explain the importance of that in the steps what they're given.

 

Sheriff Chronister

Yeah. Gloves, gowns. Eyewear we're working on. Again, hand sanitizer. Not just any hand sanitizer. Supposed to be sanitizer that's supposed to put a barrier on their hands for a couple hours. We also have taken the steps to sanitize all the HCSO facilities, so they're reporting to a healthy environment. And again, this sanitizer is supposed to keep the facilities clean for at least 30 days. So we're going to take every step necessary to, again, to protect employees, to keep them healthy so they can come to work. And again provide that critical community public service to the community we serve.

 

 

Amanda Granit

And Dr. Belisle, it's a lot of taking some personal responsibility. And if you feel sick, stay home and knowing the symptoms. What should people be on the lookout for?

 

 

Dr. Belisle

Certainly. So again, if you're ill, stay home. We're looking for fever. So fevers of a hundred point four is the fever we’re looking for. Also if you are short of breath or you have a cough. So those are the predominant symptoms.

 

Amanda Granit

Great. And who is most at risk for coronavirus?

 

Dr. Belisle

So the most at risk are going to be our elderly population. And, unfortunately, when I say elderly, the studies show or the data shows that it's going to be 60, 62 and older. And then also those regardless of what age, those with chronic illnesses. So hypertension, diabetes, autoimmune disease, immunocompromised. Those individuals are the ones that are at risk, and at risk for more serious illness.

 

Amanda Granit

So you know people should be cautious and take a look at their family and their loved ones. And know the facts when it comes to protecting themselves in their family.

 

 

Dr. Belisle

Absolutely. What we do know is that eighty percent of the individuals that will contract this coronavirus will improve spontaneously. So it's going to be symptoms of a mild cold potentially. But it's that ten to twenty percent of the individuals that will have the more critical or severe outcomes.

 

Sheriff Chronister

Dr. Belisle, there'll be a ton of people or maybe you could talk to us about the percentage of people who will have it and won't even be, you know, but will remain asymptomatic, never even exhibit any symptoms.

 

Dr. Belisle

Definitely. So we'll have a number of individuals that are asymptomatic, and so that's why it's very very important to practice those social distancing recommendations, and the hand hygiene, and the cough hygiene so that if you're asymptomatic, meaning you don't have any symptoms, you can protect others around you. And I think that's just being prepared and being mindful of your, you know, the other people around you.

 

Amanda Granit

And one of the other ways, Sheriff, that HCSO is preparing is our jails. We have the, you know, the ability to serve a population through our jail systems as well. What's happening there to help protect the inmates and the staff that works there?

 

Sheriff Chronister

A lot of people were looked at. Yeah, when you have almost 3,000 inmates at any given time inside the jails, when you talk about physical harm and protecting them, you have to protect them from any type of pandemic that we're experiencing. Now we've eliminated all visitation. We've allowed them through our GTL, our phone telephone provider, they have two five-minute phone calls a week. So we want to make sure they still have that contact with their family, but that it remains a safe contact that we're not introducing the virus into the jail system and it will spread for like wild fire inside the jails. Limiting who goes to court and doing a lot of video visitation with attorney. So taking a bunch of precautionary measures. We've almost, in essence, locked the jail down. If you don't work there, you're not getting in. There the educators, the faith-based community partners that we work with. We've just had to take some precautionary measures to make sure that we're doing everything we can to not introduce this virus into our jail population.

 

Amanda Granit

The video visitation will be really key because they can still meet with their family, they can still meet with their legal staff, they could meet with a clergy member if they needed to, but all through video visitation. So they still have that ability, it's just a different way they're going to be able to utilize it. And there's a lot of education from what I understand for the inmates so that they know, again, the hand-washing hygiene, important steps to take there, and also the symptoms there, so that they're educated as well they're not just in this confined area and uninformed of what's happening.

 

Sheriff Chronister

Absolutely. Their commitment is vital to the success of making sure we're combating the spread of the virus.

 

Amanda Granit

And Dr. Belisle, obviously you oversee the clinic and a lot of that is interacting with employees who may be sick. What are some of the protocols over there, you know, kind of speak to our employees what will they experience if they come in there, and how can they get help?

 

Dr. Belisle

Sure. So we all know that this is a very fluid environment, and things are changing minute-by-minute. And so a couple of things that we've implemented is one, whenever you call if you're calling with cold symptoms or so, we are going to ask you about travel history or we're going to also ask you about…Excuse me. About travel but also any potential exposures to somebody that has been

tested positive for COVID-19. The health and wellness of all of our employees are important and our health care providers of the clinic as well because if they get sick, then the clinic shuts down and then we can't help you. So we're doing telephone triage, we're recommending that everybody that comes in to don a mask. Anyone who has a fever, cough, sneezing to don a mask and use hand sanitizer. And we're also doing some parking lot triaging, so if we know you're ill enough or potential travel history or so, we may actually go to the parking lot and assess you in the parking lot. We've isolated rooms, specific rooms to isolate our well visits from our sick visits and we're asking that our sick visits come more in the afternoon than in the morning so we can keep those cohorts together or those group of individuals together so we can minimize the risk of our healthy employees coming in of getting anything whether it's a common cold, the flu, or now the coronavirus.

 

Amanda Granit

Just want everyone to stay healthy regardless of what they come ill.

 

Sheriff Chronister

That's why we had to implement a policy if you've been traveling abroad, you have to self quarantine for 14 days. We're not allowing you to come back to work again. We want to keep the rest of our workforce healthy and then the community we serve. We don't want to be the ones responsible for spreading the virus.

 

Amanda Granit

I've been seeing that graphic go around social media where it's a bunch of matches in a row and the matches light on fire and then the one is removed from the line. And it's the social distancing idea that if we just take one person out, it can stop the spread of the virus. And at the county level, at the state level, they've been making a lot of decisions to really promote this idea of social distancing. Sheriff, what is your message to the public right now? Obviously they have to change their daily habits, but it's something we need to do for down the road and the health of our community down the road.

 

Sheriff Chronister

There the restrictions that were implemented today from the emergency policy group, were restaurants closed at 10:00 p.m. and bars and that they have to be at 50% of occupancy. And I think that's a wonderful place to start, but as we continue to experience the fast spread of this virus, this is just a starting point. I think the more we social distance ourselves and sacrifice now, we won't have to do it later on and it won't be as severe. Maybe it'll be more short-lived. The governor now just announced that all nightclubs and bars are closed effective tonight and closed altogether, so that we're kind of trying to keep up with the state and federal recommendations. It was 150 people, hundred people, 50 people, and the county went with the 50 people. No more groups of no more than 50, private and public. But the president just recommended, based on the information he received, ten people. And I think, again, I think we're going to be implementing more restrictive measures as we try to keep up with the spread of the virus. And if we don't, we're going to find ourselves in a in a bad way. So I just ask everyone, be patient or pass it on as we learn it's spreading rapidly and we're trying to keep up. But, again, no one wants to sit at home. My wife and my 16 year old are home. They're quarantined. No one's even coming to the house. The cleaning lady's been canceled, but I think it's important to be done because I'm hoping if they do it for two weeks and everyone else continues to do it, it'll be more short-lived. The economic impact won't be an 8-month one where people are unemployed, losing their job, and bars restaurants losing business. Maybe it can be shorter-lived if we all, again, are more aggressive on how we're going to social distance. If not, there's going to be measures in place where they're going to be enforced and forcing us to do it.

 

Amanda Granit

It's not to punish anyone, but what we do right now in this week will effect this virus in the future.

 

Sheriff Chronister

This emergency policy group is to protect everyone. It's all about public health and safety. It's a fine line between individual freedom and what's in the betterment for the community keeping them safe. And that's the fine line that you continue to have to walk. Is you want to keep people safe, and at the same time, not develop a community where you're forcing people and telling them what they have to do.

 

Amanda Granit

Certainly. So doctor. I know you're new to Keeping It 100, but something we do every episode, and this one will be no different, is take questions from our followers and from the people who have submitted them to on Facebook. So for anyone who's listening on social media, you can submit any questions to our podcast by using the hashtag #keepingit100. Some of the questions that we have for both of you for this week are what are your biggest concerns when it comes to COVID-19 or coronavirus?

 

Dr. Belisle

Sure.

 

Sheriff Chronister

Mine is what we were just talking about. The spread, trying to keep up with the spread. We all are going to have to sacrifice some personal freedoms in order to get the spread of this virus under control, and I'm just asking everyone be patient. We’re passing information out as quick as we learn it and get it, and I think that's the key word here is patient. Again, I hate seeing at the grocery stores or everyone's fighting with each other or because someone feels they need 800 rolls, again, of toilet paper. Listen, toilet paper and food aren't going anywhere. There's going to be plenty available. If we continue to hoard it then some people may not get it. But I think it's important to realize it's the time for us to unite as a community and take care of one another not be so self-serving and everybody start hoarding supplies. There's a lot of goodwill and a lot of love that will go a long way in helping all of us through this virus.

 

Amanda Granit

Doctor, for you?

 

Dr. Belisle

So for me, my biggest concern is…excuse me… just what the sheriff said is that we have a spike or a surge of illnesses all at the same time and with that, the demand on our healthcare system is going to overwhelm our system. When an overwhelming means overwhelming the hospital beds, overwhelming those critical care units, overwhelming the, ventilators. So, you know, maybe a little inconvenience now it's going to go along way down the road. And think about it, even though we may be young and healthy or so, think about your family member who isn't young and isn't healthy. You know, make those sacrifices for them, you know, because it's not only about you. It's about your community. It's about your family. So just like Sheriff was saying about…excuse me…going to the grocery store and such. I heard a statistic this morning about toilet paper and that…

 

Sheriff Chronister

I don't know why toilet paper. Out of all the products - in hurricane, it's always water but no.  

 

Amanda Granit

In case you have to stay in your house for a long period of time.

 

Dr. Belisle

Well for a family of four for two weeks, your total need is only 17 rolls total. So don't go hoarding the toilet paper. You know so it's very...

 

Amanda Granit

Smart.

 

Dr. Belisle

So going back to the my concern, that's my concern. So I think just an ounce of inconvenience now is going to go a long way. Be kind. Be patient. We're all not comfortable about not having things to do, so brush off that book you didn't haven't had a chance to read. Do that recipe you haven't had a chance. Plant a garden. You know, find a way to reconnect with yourself because social distancing does not mean isolating yourself from doing things. You know, dust off your bicycle get some fresh air.

 

Amanda Granit

And fresh air is good.

 

Sheriff Chronister

I just heard that yesterday to encourage people to be outdoors. Stay away from other people, but it's okay to be outdoor.

 

Dr. Belisle

It's okay to be outdoors, but, you know, keep that distance, you know. So don't stay huddled up in your in your bedroom. Be out there. Do things, but be mindful. I think now is the time to have to be mindful of what you do. Be mindful of others, and I think we can get through this now.  

 

Amanda Granit

And of course throughout all of this process while the coronavirus is impacting our community, you can keep up with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office on all of our social media platforms. We're putting out information for the community, for our staff, for the employees here daily, and trying to keep you up-to-date and informed, so that you don't have to panic. You can just know the facts and really move forward in the best light to protect you and your family. So thank you everyone for joining us for this special edition of Keeping It 100, and we'll see you next time.