the eye institute of west florida

COVID-19 (coronavirus) Update for Patients

*Note this article will be continually updated with the latest information regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus).

It has been the founding principal of The Eye Institute of West Florida to ensure the health and safety of our patients. In response to recent events regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus), we are taking additional precautions to ensure the welfare of our patients.

Rest assured, we are taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of our patients and staff. Please use this page as a local resource to learn how the coronavirus is impacting our practice and the community abroad.

NOTICE

Attention Patients: For the safety of all concerned regarding Coronavirus, our offices are CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. Our Largo office is open for sight emergencies only. Call (727) 581-8706 to schedule.

4/28/2020

  • Pinellas County commissioners voted April 28 to reopen public pools, beaches and playgrounds at childcare facilities. Social distancing will be required.

4/14/2020

  • The Eye Institute of West Florida has once again updated its COVID-19 (coronavirus) protocols. Patients will now be required to wear a medical-grade mask or covering such as a bandana or scarf to their in-office appointments. Click here for full protocol instructions.

4/8/2020

  • The biotech company Novavax announced it has identified an “ideal” coronavirus vaccine candidate — and is set to launch the first clinical human trial in mid-May. The candidate, NVX-CoV2373, proved its ability to produce immune responses and high levels of antibodies against COVID-19 in pre-clinical animal trials.

4/7/2020

  • New data out of New York state analyzing those who died from COVID-19 found that 61% were male, 86% had an underlying disease (such as hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, coronary artery disease, renal disease and dementia) and 63% were aged 70 and older.

4/6/2020

  • Federal student loan payments are suspended through September 30 as a result of the CARES Act. The legislature is working on extending the relief to private student loan lenders to allow for suspended payments to its borrowers.

4/3/2020

  • The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has created a model to project future cases of COVID-19 in the United States. Florida’s peak for the pandemic is estimated to be the first week of May. It is important to note the study has not yet been peer reviewed and should not be used to guide clinical practice. Click here to access the online tool.

4/2/2020

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a COVID-19 (coronavirus) online self-checker tool. The online guide helps individuals make decisions and seek appropriate medical care regarding coronavirus. Click here to access the online tool.

4/1/2020

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis mandated a 30-day stay-at-home order today, requiring that residents to stay indoors unless they are pursuing essential services or activities. His executive order will take effect midnight Thursday.

3/31/2020

  • Dr. Robert Weinstock shares valuable information with Good Morning American on how to keep your eyes keep your eyes safe with increased screen time amid coronavirus outbreak – Click to read full article
  • COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases in Florida shot up to over 6,300 today with confirmed cases in other local counties total 129 in Pinellas, 38 in Pasco, 21 in Hernando and 42 in Manatee.
  • Two ships carrying passengers and crew from an ill-fated South American cruise are pleading with Florida officials to let them carry off the sick and dead, but Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida’s health care resources are already stretched too thin.

3/30/2020

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis issues “Stay at Home” order for the southern portion of the state as the number of positive coronavirus cases grows. The order will apply to Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Monroe counties through the middle of April.
  • Tampa, FL Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was arrested for violating Hillsborough County’s “Safer-at-Home” Order by holding group church services.

3/29/2020

  • Pres. Donald Trump extends federal social distancing guidelines including limitations on large gatherings through April 30, 2020.

3/27/2020

  • Pres. Donald Trump signs historic $2 trillion stimulus package into law after passing congress. The far-reaching legislation stands as the largest emergency aid package in US history. It represents a massive financial injection into a struggling economy with provisions aimed at helping American workers, small businesses and industries grappling with the economic disruption.

3/26/2020

  • Hillsborough County Commission issues “Safer at Home” Order for residents that goes into effect Friday. The plan orders residents to stay home except when they are maintaining “quality of life” and access to essential services like grocery stores, banks and pharmacies. The order also issues a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weekdays and 24 hours on weekends — although essential tasks can also be performed during those hours.

3/25/2020

  • US Senate leaders have reached a bipartisan deal with the White House on $2 trillion coronavirus package. The bill must then pass the House of Representatives before being ratified by President Donald Trump.
  • Pinellas County Commission issues “Safer at Home” Order for residents that goes into effect Thursday. Residents are ordered to follow CDC guidelines, stay home as much as possible save for essential needs. Non-essential businesses are ordered to close storefront operations and customer foot traffic unless they are able to comply with CDC guidelines. Places of public assembly are ordered to close, including: movie theaters, museums, pool halls, bowling alleys, country clubs and others. County public parks will stay open; however, playgrounds within the parks will be closed.

3/24/2020

  • Florida’s count of confirmed COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases reaches 1,227.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a mandatory 14-day quarantine order for anyone traveling from New York and New Jersey to Florida.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis asks Pres. Donald Trump to declare Florida a major disaster requesting Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Community Disaster Loans and the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Program.
  • Washington’s stalemate over a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus packaged carried into Tuesday, with some signs of progress.
  • More than 46,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the United States, although experts say the true number is much higher.
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis said today that he opposes a statewide stay-at-home or shelter-in-place order — despite public health experts’ assertions that such action is needed to prevent a major disaster that overwhelms hospitals.
  • More American states have gone under lockdown, with Louisiana, New Mexico, Washington and West Virginia issuing stay-at-home orders.

3/23/2020

  • Clearwater City Council votes to close public beaches for two weeks
  • Mayor Rick Kriseman of St. Petersburg supported the idea of a statewide order asking people to stay in their homes in order to slow the spread of coronavirus. No declaration has been made at this time.

3/20/2020

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis directed all restaurants and food establishments within the state to suspend all dine-in food and beverage consumption for customers, but is allowing restaurants to operate for take-out and delivery orders amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs an executive order requiring the closures of gyms and fitness centers within the state
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order prohibiting all hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, office surgery centers, dental, orthodontic and endodontic offices, and other health care practitioners’ offices from providing any medically unnecessary, non-urgent or non-emergency procedure or surgery. Medically unecessasry surgeries include those procedures that, if delayed, would not place a patient’s immediate health, safety or well-being at risk, or will, if not delayed, contribute to the worsening of a serious or life-threatening condition.
  • President Donald Trump announced restricting nonessential travel between the U.S. and Mexico and allowing borrowers with federal student loans to be able to pause their payments for two months without interest accruing
  • The Department of Education declared they will not enforce standardized testing requirements for current year

3/19/2020

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis does not close Florida beaches but recommends social distancing.
  • Pinellas County Commission unanimously approved a resolution closing Pinellas County public beaches and public beach parking areas effective 11:59 p.m. Friday, March 20, until April 6

3/18/2020

  • The Eye Institute of West Florida: Starting Thursday, March 19th, our Largo, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Tampa offices will be closed through Thursday, April 2nd and will hopefully reopen at that time. Starting Thursday, March 19th through Thursday, April 2nd, our Largo and Hyde Park (501 N. Howard Avenue, Tampa) offices will be open for eye emergencies during that period. Patients will need to call (727) 581-8706 to schedule a visit at either of these locations if they feel they are having an eye emergency that needs to be seen.
  • President Donald Trump announced restricting nonessential travel between the U.S. and Canada

3/17/2020

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis orders all nightclubs and bars to close for 30 days and for restaurants to cut their capacity by half.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declares major changes to K-12 education, including extending public schools closures to April 15 and canceling required standardized state testing this year. He said parents may hold their students back a year and that teaching hours could be modified.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recommends people congregate in groups of 10 or less and keep at least 6 away from other groups

3/16/2020

  • For the safety of all concerned from the Coronavirus, if you are 70 years or older, we recommend you reschedule your appointment unless it’s an emergency.
  • This notice excludes scheduled surgeries. We are watching the CDC guidelines very closely and we will update our policies upon their recommendations. We also ask that friends and family members accompanying patients during their visit, wait outside of the facility during the duration of the visit. This policy excludes surgery.

3/12/2020

  • We are prescreening patients when scheduling appointments. We are scheduling patients 2 – 3 weeks out if they have been exposed to international travel or are experiencing flu-like symptoms. Please note this does not include emergency patients.
  • We have enhanced our sanitation protocol to include more frequent cleanings of door handles, bathrooms, chairs, counters, and common areas.
  • We have posted signage at the entrance way and common areas encouraging patients to reschedule their appointments if experiencing flu-like symptoms.
  • We have installed additional sanitation throughout our facilities.
  • We are temporarily suspending fees for patients that cancel and/or no-show their appointment.
  • We are temporarily ceasing our cookie and coffee service.

Additional Resources:

American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO): aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/coronavirus-covid19-eye-infection-pinkeye

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): cdc.gov

World Health Organization (WHO): who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

Florida Disaster Division of Emergency Management: floridadisaster.org/covid19

Florida Department of Health: floridahealthcovid19.gov

Pinellas County Government: pinellascounty.org/emergency/covid19/default.htm

Hillsborough County Government: hillsboroughcounty.org/en/residents/public-safety/emergency-management/stay-safe