TAMPA, Fla. - Hillsborough County's Emergency Policy Group voted Monday to implement an overnight curfew to help slow the spread of COVID-19, in addition to the existing 'safer-at-home' orders, but data shows the argument for the curfew may not be as strong as some thought.
In question were the times and number of calls made to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, reporting violations to the 'safer at home' order.
From March 27, when the 'safer at home' order went into effect, to April 12, when the curfew went into effect, 42 or 323 calls made to the sheriff's office in regards to the order happened during the time the curfew is now in place: 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
That's 13% and attorney Patrick Leduc says it's not enough to keep the entire county from leaving their homes.
“Those types of statistics and those types of number do not support keeping 1.4 million people inside,” said Leduc. “There’s a lack of wisdom being shown here when you take these types of measures without going through the deliberative process and allowing the public to be able to comment on it.”
Leduc says the process by which the curfew was voted upon was unconstitutional and he plans to file a lawsuit against the county. He’s referring to the Florida statute that requires public opportunity to comment – something that wasn’t provided during Monday's emergency policy group meeting.
“Out of the blue, they voted on something last night without any prior notice to the public to say, 'This is coming up,'” he said.
There is an exception to that statute. Public participation is exempted in the case of an emergency.
FOX 13 reached out to the county attorney Tuesday to ask for the county's reasoning for voiding the public comment portion, but have not heard back.
The text of the curfew order, published 24 hours after the vote was taken Monday, notes that “as a governmental civil authority action, it is necessary to impose the regulations and restrictions set forth herein in response to the dangerous physical conditions that currently exists and to stop the COVID-19 virus from spreading."
Read the full text of the curfew order at https://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/library/hillsborough/media-center/documents/administrator/epg/order-20-0319.pdf.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to email@example.com. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know
AROUND THE WORLD: CoronavirusNOW.com
Map of known COVID-19 cases:
MOBILE APP USERS: Click here for map