Seafood fest, business expo canceled in Marco Island amid worldwide coronavirus outbreak

The city of Marco Island has canceled several events and services out of abundance of caution amid the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, according to top city officials.

Pizza with the Police and a CPR class, both scheduled in March, and fingerprinting services were canceled as three Collier County residents tested positive for COVID-19.

"We are taking precautionary (measures) right now following CDC guidelines," said Chief Tracy L. Frazzano of the Marco Island Police Department on March 12.

Frazzano said the department is also having personnel issues.

"We do have some people that are actually out sick already."

None of the department's staff is suspected of having the virus, according to Frazzano.

She said the department suspended its fingerprinting services as well.

"The county has canceled theirs already and we were starting to receive the influx from the county," Frazzano said.

Marco Island Police Chief Tracy L. Frazzano, left, speaks with Fire Chief Michael D. Murphy during a City Council meeting on Sept. 3, 2019.

More:Six NCH Healthcare workers on self isolation; 14 Lee Health employees getting tested for COVID-19

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Chief Mike Murphy of Marco Island Fire-Rescue said the department has canceled an upcoming CPR class for similar reasons.

"Today we had a CPR class scheduled, we had a number of applicants and two people walked in," Murphy said. "We only had one other class coming up and our response was [...] people probably aren't going to show up." 

Murphy said the department canceled the class as a precaution to avoid the spread of the virus.

"(The CPR equipment) would then have to be disinfected constantly," Murphy said.

People wait in line at the 10th annual Marco Island Seafood and Music Festival in Veterans' Community Park.

Murphy said first responders are following standard procedures like they do in cases where a patient might have the flu.

"With flu cases there is a standardized SOP that tells us to put a mask on the patient, wear a mask yourself, and we also keep away non-essential personnel on those types of calls," Murphy said. "One person will go in when it's a flu case or anything like that and evaluate the patient to make a determination of what needs to be done."

"This is what we do everyday."

City Manager Mike McNees said the City Council meeting on Monday, March 16 will continue as scheduled. 

"We are encouraging everyone to follow the guidelines that has been put out by the CDC which include limiting your social interactions as much as possible, only go where you really need to go," McNees said on March 12. "All of those things would apply to a meeting like the City Council meeting."

"We'll make sure the room has been cleaned and that we have disinfected it as best as we're capable of."

McNees said people can watch the meeting online.

Farmers' market canceled

The city also canceled the farmers' market.

"Based on the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control that public gatherings in excess of 50 people be curtailed, I have made the decision to suspend the operation of the Wednesday Farmers Market for this week," McNees wrote in an email on March 16.  

On March 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that gatherings be limited to 50 people or less for the next eight weeks, with the day-to-day operation of schools and businesses excepted.

"We continue to look at the Parks and Rec schedule," McNees said. "We'll be ramping up our cleaning process certainly at Mackle Park and other public areas."

"As of now we don't have any other cancellations to announce."

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McNees said staff continues to monitor the situation closely and evaluate city operations. In the future, the city might consider options like closures or having staff working from home, he said.

"As of this moment, with no knowledge of any [...] community contamination or community spread of this disease other than three cases [...] that were travel related in Collier County, we don't have any sight that we need to directly restrict movement or close city hall."

McNees said the most important thing he wants to emphasize is that Marco Islanders need to follow the advice of the CDC and Florida Department of Health.

"If you are an elderly resident of the island who has a known compromised immune system, you certainly need to evaluate for yourself, whether the city is closing events or not or whether the city hall is open or closed, you need to evaluate for yourself what you think your risk might be," McNees said.

"That's something where people need to take individual responsibility."

Marco seafood festival and business expo canceled

The Marco Island Seafood and Music Festival has been canceled, according to its Facebook page. It was scheduled for the weekend of March 20.

"In an abundance of caution due to the recommendations regarding limiting potential exposure to COVID-19 and in keeping with the direction of Governor DeSantis’s recommendation to avoid large public events, the 2020 Marco Island Seafood and Music Festival has been cancelled," event organizers wrote.

For over 12 years the Marco Island community has come together for a weekend of good food and music all to benefit the less fortunate in the surrounding area.

"The Kiwanis Club of Marco Island, Rotary Club of Marco Island Noontime and the Rotary Club of Marco Island Sunrise, sponsors of the festival, regret the festival will not take place, but the health and welfare of our volunteers, vendors, sponsors and visitors is of the upmost importance” wrote Stan Niemczyk, festival chairman.

"We hope to have their support at next year’s festival."

The arts and crafts vendors will still be at Veterans' Community Park from March 20 to March 22 and the entrance will be free, according to the event's Facebook page.

Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce canceled its 2020 Business and Community Expo scheduled for March 18 at Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa.

"For the first time in 20 years, we are canceling the Annual Business & Community Expo," the chamber wrote. "The health and well-being of our community is of the utmost importance."

The chamber also canceled March Networking After Five scheduled for March 17. 

Other cancellations in Marco Island

  • Marco Island Charter Middle School will be closed through March 20 and Casino Night, originally scheduled for March 20, has been postponed. School resumes on March 23.
  • The Republican Club of South Collier County - Congressional District 19 Candidate Forum scheduled for March 18 in Naples' Hammock Bay Country Club is canceled.
  • All special events of the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island through June 30 are canceled. This includes but is not limited to Monday Night Bingo, the Jewish Film Festival, the Alter Eagles Concert and Passover Seder. However, religious services will continue.
  • Annual Shell Show and Shell Art Sale of the Marco Island Shell Club scheduled for a March 19, 20 and 21 is canceled.

Omar Rodríguez Ortiz is a community reporter for Naples Daily News and Marco Eagle. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram as @Omar_fromPR, and on Facebook. Support his work by subscribing to Naples Daily News.