Board of County Commissioners of Collier County voted not to move forward with a countywide stay-at-home order during its special meeting Friday.
Dozens of people spent the afternoon talking about it with the commissioners.
Ultimately, the commissioners said they want to follow the governor’s lead or wait for more data before a stay-at-home order is mandated by the county. This decision is against the advice from local doctors, who warned county officials about the virus becoming worse.
Different opinions were shared during the over four-hour, public meeting. Doctors warned commissioners, hospitals will become overwhelmed with new patients and run out of supplies to treat the virus if a mandatory stay-at-home order is not issued soon.
Others at the meeting said businesses are already doing everything they can to be safe, worried more restrictions would hurt the local economy further.
A local doctor, who is working amid the pandemic, spoke about one of his COVID -19 patients who remains in the ICU.
“It’s horrifying watching what’s happening because we don’t have any effective treatment,” Dr. Zubin Pachori said with Premier Inpatient Partners.
Pachori begged commissioners to approve the stay-at-home order.
“Slow it down to a level we can manage it,” Pachori said. “If I get two corona patients a day versus 20 corona patients a day, it’s a gigantic difference.”
Local business leaders tried convincing commissioners their businesses are essential and should not be shut down. One of them was the owner of a local pawn shop.
“An inordinate amount of people were coming in, had just recently, like that morning lost their job and were searching for a way, literally, to pay the light bill,” said Eric P. Solomon, the owner of First Pawn and Jewelry and Loan.
Realtors argued they’re now able to do things like open houses digitally and should stay open.
One local business owner said health must be everyone’s’ top priory.
“I feel the most important thing is for us to be safe and move on from this,” said Denise Jefferies, the owner of Bella Florals and More.
Still, Jefferies is also unsure about how she will continue to make a living and support those who work for her.
“Don’t know how money is going to come in to pay rent,” Jeffries said. “I want to keep my employees.”
Collier commissioners said they plan to consider the actions of Lee County if its commissioners decide on a stay-at-home order during their emergency meeting Monday.
“There’s tremendous fear right now,” Commissioner Penny Taylor said. “But we will get through this.”