Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Florida Adjutant General JAMES O. EIFERT's COVID-19 Quarantine Raises Concerns for Florida National Guard Employee Health

9/30 Update: 
Inspector General is investigating. Florida National Guard Adjutant General JAMES O. EIFERT has now issued a press release, confirming my Sept. 26 report.  

General EIFERT and Guard PIO never sent me that press release, but sent it to other local news media. 

Bureaucratic bungling? 

Or unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination, violating First Amendment?

You tell me.

When will employees be tested?

Will there be an apology for secrecy and desuetude of enforcement of CDC guidelines?

Pray for a speedy, full recovery for our Florida National Guard Adjutant General JAMES O. EIFERT, who has COVID-19. Under Governor RONALD DION DeSANTIS, our Florida National Guard was keeping its St. Augustine HQ employees in the dark, until I reported the General's quarantine and secrecy to the Inspector General. Florida National Guard must protect our servicemembers. My folks raised me to speak out to protect employees, just as my dad did as a "morale non-com" with 82nd Airborne Division, F Compan, 505th P.I.R. in World War II.  
As LBJ said after Selma, "We shall overcome!"

The Adjutant General of the State of Florida, standing second from left next to Governor RONALD DION DeSANTIS. TAG has been quarantined at his official residence.  Employees await the courtesy, dignity and respect of hazard communications about OVID-19 testing, contact tracing and decontamination. 

I've contacted the Inspector General and requested an investigation. 

Efforts to obtain information. have been unavailing.  No one at FNG HQ management is talking. 

Hint: it's not classified, it's not UCNI, it's not NOFORN: it's COVID-19.  

It's about the safety of our Florida National Guard headquarters for employees and visitors.

Our Governor, RONALD DION DeSANTIS is maladroit, following in the footsteps of DONALD JOHN TRUMP.  Apparently, FNG prefers to keep secret facts that might embarrass DeSANTIS, who has just announced Florida is going to Phase 3 of COVID-19 shutdown requirements, while manipulating or secreting COVID-19 data from schools and other organizations.

You work for all Americans, General and you took the same oath I took four times to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."  

Stop stonewalling Governor.  Stop covering up, General.  

As protesters chanted during Vietnam, "The whole world is watching."

Here's the e-mail trail:

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <>
To: <>; <>
Cc: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>;
Sent: Sat, Sep 26, 2020 12:37 pm
Subject: Florida Major General James O. Eifert COVID-19 Quarantine and COVID Testing of FNG Personnel

Dear Major General Eifert:
1. Hearing nothing substantive from you or FNG, I've contacted the Inspector General about the circumstances of your not being in the office for several weeks, apparently under COVID-19 quarantine, talking to staff through a window at your official residence. Employees have been kept in the dark.  Why?
2. Contacting the Inspector General is exactly what my father would have advised.  He was a "Morale Non-com," WWII 82nd ABN DIVN, F. Co. 505th P.I.R., with three combat jumps. He stood up for soldiers' rights.  
3. Please communicate with Florida National Guard employees about your apparent quarantine and any FNG plans for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing or decontamination. Transparency is mandatory.  
4. As the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, "Secrecy is for losers."  Keeping secrets from FNG on COVID-19 is indefensible, and must be ended at once.
5. Will you kindly promise to abolish omertà as a de facto FNG policy wherever environmental health and safety are concerned, from this day forward?
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <>
To: <>; <>
Cc: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; 
Sent: Fri, Sep 25, 2020 7:21 pm
Subject: Re: Request No. 2020-257: Florida Major General James O. Eifert COVID-19 Quarantine and COVID Testing of FNG Personnel

Dear Major General Eifert:
1. Best wishes for your speedy recovery! 
2. Please call me about my FOIA request, below, 
3. Otherwise, may I have your permission to come speak to you through a window at your residence tomorrow morning about the urgent need to protect all COVID-exposed FNG staff?
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <>
To: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>
Sent: Fri, Sep 25, 2020 4:54 pm
Subject: Re: Request No. 2020-257: Florida Major General James O. Eifert COVID-19 Quarantine and COVID Testing of FNG Personnel

Good afternoon:
1. As the only son of a WWII 82nd ABN DIVN paratrooper, I expect DoD and FNG to show competence and compassion for our Florida National service members who were exposed to COVID-19. 
2. Please call me today.   No excuses.
3. No more form letters are desired or required!
4. Please send responsive records today.
5. Please answer my questions today. 
6. You may have the constitutional right to remain silent.  But our Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination is no response to DoD's and FNG's failure to protect our Florida National Guard employees in St. Augustine. What's going on here?
7. DoD and FNG officials may face potential criminal liability if you cause disease and death through desuetude of DoD and FNG enforcement of  CDC guidelines at the Florida National Guard Headquarters in St. Augustine, Florida. Please govern yourselves accordingly.
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

-----Original Message-----
From: Guillotte, Tina M NFG NG FLARNG (USA) <>
To: Ed Slavin <>
Sent: Fri, Sep 25, 2020 4:04 pm
Subject: RE: [Non-DoD Source] Re: Request No. 2020-257: Florida Major General James O. Eifert COVID-19 Quarantine and COVID Testing of FNG Personnel (UNCLASSIFIED)

Good afternoon Mr. Slavin,
After review of your request it has been determined that there were no responsive records found in the State system of records. The records requested may be obtained from the Florida National Guard, a Federal agency, subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). If you would like to make a FOIA request, you may send a letter to the following email or the mailing address:
P.O. Box 1008
St. Augustine, FL 32085
You will need to have the following items in your letter:
- Cite that you are requesting records under the FOIA -Provide your full name and contact information, to include e-mail address to expedite communications
- Provide a reasonable description of the record(s) requested
- Provide a statement of your fee category and indicate your willingness to pay applicable fees for processing. You may include a dollar amount you are willing to pay up to, or you may leave the amount you are willing to pay open ended.
Please see for additional information regarding filing of a FOIA request.
Tina Guillotte
Legal Assistant 
Office of the General Counsel  
Department of Military Affairs

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <>
To: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>
Cc: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>
Sent: Fri, Sep 25, 2020 3:28 pm
Subject: Re: Request No. 2020-257: Florida Major General James O. Eifert COVID-19 Quarantine and COVID Testing of FNG Personnel

Good afternoon:
1. Please respond today to my urgent 10:18 am request. 
2. Are our Florida National Guard employees being tested for COVID-19 today?
3. What testing and contact tracing is being done by FNG?  Please call me today to discuss!
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <>
To: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>
Sent: Fri, Sep 25, 2020 10:18 am
Subject: Request No. 2020-257: Florida Major General James O. Eifert COVID-19 Quarantine and COVID Testing of FNG Personnel

Good morning: 

A. 1. Pursuant to FOIA, E-FOIA and the Florida Open Records law, F.S. 119, and without violating HIPPAA, would you please be so kind as to send me in PDF today  the documents on Florida Major General James O. Eifert's COVID-19 quarantine and the notices, schedule and summary results of Florida National Guard personnel for COVID-19?
2. In the public interest, I respectfully request expedited treatment a full waiver of any fees under FOIA and E-FOIA.
1. In the event there are other requests for this information, please expedite the release to me by PDF of all documents already released to others. 
2. Please waive any fees, as the release of this information is in the public interest and I meet the six factor FOIA test.  This request is urgent and time-sensitive, as the subject is a violation of employee rights to a safe workplace. Please expedite your response: Americans and Floridians have a Right to Know about 500 Florida National Guardsmen being used for a possible political stunt.
3. I am an investigative reporter with some 40 years of experience in informing the public, including winning declassification of the largest mercury pollution event in world history (Oak Ridge, Tenn. Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Plant, DOE/Union Carbide, 1983) and uncovering the City of St. Augustine's illegal dumping of a landfill in a lake and sequelae (2005-2010).  I can share copies of articles published in several American Bar Association publications, including Judges' Journal.
4. Release of the requested information will help promote the public interest in understanding federal government operations.
5. My blog has received nearly four (4) million measured page views and helps inform people about governmental affairs.  We've had more than 75 public interest victories here since 2005, in a county the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once called "the most lawless city in America."    
6. Addressing the six federal FOIA factors:
Factor 1. The subject of the request: The subject of the requested records concerns "the operations or activities of the government." .
Factor 2. The informative value of the information to be disclosed: The disclosure is "likely to contribute" to an understanding of government operations or activities. 
Factor 3. The contribution to an understanding of the subject by the public is likely to result from disclosure: Disclosure of the requested information will contribute to "public understanding." The disclosure will contribute to the understanding of a reasonably broad audience of persons interested in the subject. I have developed expertise in pertinent subject areaand the ability and intention to convey information to the public. (It is presumed that a representative of the news media will satisfy this consideration.)
Factor 4. The significance of the contribution to public understanding: The disclosure is likely to contribute "significantly" to public understanding of government operations or activities."   
Factor 5. The existence and magnitude of a commercial interest:   No commercial interest. 
Factor 6. The primary interest in disclosure:  There is no "commercial interest."  FOI officers know that when a "news media requester has satisfied the public interest standard, the public interest will be the interest primarily served by disclosure to that requester."
7. Please call me if you have any questions. 
8. Please use my Request No. 2020-257: Florida Major General James O. Eifert COVID-19 Quarantine and COVID Testing of FNG Personnel in the title of all correspondence.

Thank you!
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Florida Supreme Court OKs County Charters With Nonpartisan Elections (Courthouse News Service, 2019)


Florida Justices OK Nonpartisan County Races


Corruption Junction, What's Your Function? What is the Sheriff of St. Johns County doing starting a secretive Limited Liability Company?  Who are its customers?   From Florida Secretary of State, Division of Corporations website comes news that SHOAR, who legally changed his name from "HOAR" in 1994, founded this corporation with his wife, Laura, earlier this year:

Detail by Officer/Registered Agent Name

Florida Limited Liability Company


Filing Information
Principal Address
Mailing Address
Registered Agent Name & AddressSHOAR, LAURA A
Authorized Person(s) DetailName & Address 

Title MGR 


Annual Reports
No Annual Reports Filed

Saturday, September 26, 2020

JFK's Houston Ministerial Association Speech, September 12, 1960

September 12th was the 60th anniversary of John Fitzgerald Kennedy's 1960 speech to the Houston Ministerial Association, in which he laid to rest anti-Catholic bigotry. 

Reverend Meza, Reverend Reck, I'm grateful for your generous invitation to speak my views. 

While the so-called religious issue is necessarily and properly the chief topic here tonight, I want to emphasize from the outset that we have far more critical issues to face in the 1960 election; the spread of Communist influence, until it now festers 90 miles off the coast of Florida--the humiliating treatment of our President and Vice President by those who no longer respect our power--the hungry children I saw in West Virginia, the old people who cannot pay their doctor bills, the families forced to give up their farms--an America with too many slums, with too few schools, and too late to the moon and outer space. 

These are the real issues which should decide this campaign. And they are not religious issues--for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barriers. 

But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected President, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured--perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again--not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me--but what kind of America I believe in. 

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishoners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference--and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him. 

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish--where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source--where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials--and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all. 

For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew--or a Quaker--or a Unitarian--or a Baptist. It was Virginia's harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson's statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim- -but tomorrow it may be you--until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril. 

Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end--where all men and all churches are treated as equal--where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice--where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind--and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood. 

That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of Presidency in which I believe--a great office that must neither be humbled by making it the instrument of any one religious group nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding its occupancy from the members of any one religious group. I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office. 

I would not look with favor upon a President working to subvert the first amendment's guarantees of religious liberty. Nor would our system of checks and balances permit him to do so--and neither do I look with favor upon those who would work to subvert Article VI of the Constitution by requiring a religious test--even by indirection--for it. If they disagree with that safeguard they should be out openly working to repeal it. 

I want a Chief Executive whose public acts are responsible to all groups and obligated to none--who can attend any ceremony, service or dinner his office may appropriately require of him--and whose fulfillment of his Presidential oath is not limited or conditioned by any religious oath, ritual or obligation. 

This is the kind of America I believe in--and this is the kind I fought for in the South Pacific, and the kind my brother died for in Europe. No one suggested then that we may have a "divided loyalty," that we did "not believe in liberty," or that we belonged to a disloyal group that threatened the "freedoms for which our forefathers died." 

And in fact this is the kind of America for which our forefathers died--when they fled here to escape religious test oaths that denied office to members of less favored churches--when they fought for the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom--and when they fought at the shrine I visited today, the Alamo. For side by side with Bowie and Crockett died McCafferty and Bailey and Carey--but no one knows whether they were Catholic or not. For there was no religious test at the Alamo. 

I ask you tonight to follow in that tradition--to judge me on the basis of my record of 14 years in Congress--on my declared stands against an Ambassador to the Vatican, against unconstitutional aid to parochial schools, and against any boycott of the public schools (which I have attended myself)--instead of judging me on the basis of these pamphlets and publications we all have seen that carefully select quotations out of context from the statements of Catholic church leaders, usually in other countries, frequently in other centuries, and always omitting, of course, the statement of the American Bishops in 1948 which strongly endorsed church-state separation, and which more nearly reflects the views of almost every American Catholic. 

I do not consider these other quotations binding upon my public acts--why should you? But let me say, with respect to other countries, that I am wholly opposed to the state being used by any religious group, Catholic or Protestant, to compel, prohibit, or persecute the free exercise of any other religion. And I hope that you and I condemn with equal fervor those nations which deny their Presidency to Protestants and those which deny it to Catholics. And rather than cite the misdeeds of those who differ, I would cite the record of the Catholic Church in such nations as Ireland and France--and the independence of such statesmen as Adenauer and De Gaulle. 

But let me stress again that these are my views--for contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for President who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters--and the church does not speak for me. 

Whatever issue may come before me as President--on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject--I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise. 

But if the time should ever come--and I do not concede any conflict to be even remotely possible--when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do the same. 

But I do not intend to apologize for these views to my critics of either Catholic or Protestant faith--nor do I intend to disavow either my views or my church in order to win this election. 

If I should lose on the real issues, I shall return to my seat in the Senate, satisfied that I had tried my best and was fairly judged. But if this election is decided on the basis that 40 million Americans lost their chance of being President on the day they were baptized, then it is the whole nation that will be the loser, in the eyes of Catholics and non-Catholics around the world, in the eyes of history, and in the eyes of our own people. 

But if, on the other hand, I should win the election, then I shall devote every effort of mind and spirit to fulfilling the oath of the Presidency--practically identical, I might add, to the oath I have taken for 14 years in the Congress. For without reservation, I can "solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution . . . so help me God. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Does Commissioner Joe Mullins Regret His Opposition to COVID Masks? Newsweek and Flagler Live on Palm Coast Superspreader Event

A political tourist, Flagler County, Florida Commissioner JOSEPH F. MULLINS (R-Georgia) bears moral responsibility for encouraging the anti-maskers, whose unenlightened anti-science ideology just killed two people in Palm Coast.  

Way to go, Joe.  When Russian decides to spread anti-science propaganda, you fell for it, Joe Mullins.  It's time for Joe Mullins to go. 

Three Republican St. Johns County Commissioners repeatedly refused to enact a mandatory mask ordinance, despite the fact that Commissioner Paul Waldron nearly died of COVID.

Their names are Rev. Jeb Smith, Paul Waldron and James K. Johns.  (Waldron is a frequent visitor at Smith's church in Hastings).

From Newsweek and Flagler Live:

Karaoke Party Turned Superspreader Event Left 50 People Infected and 2 Dead

A karaoke night at social club in Palm Coast, Florida, was the site of COVID-19 "superspreader" event that resulted in around 50 infections and at least two deaths.

Officials traced dozens of infections to an event that took place at the Palm Coast Social Club on the evening of August 28, according to to the Flagler County Health Department. Many attendees were not wearing masks or following social distancing rules, while people engaged in singing, which is considered a high-risk activity when it comes to the spread of COVID-19, FlaglerLive reported.

"This is actually a pretty dramatic event. It's really a tragedy," Stephen Bickel, medical director at the Flagler health department, told the local news outlet. "It's certainly profound ignorance of the risk. The public may not be aware of what a risk this is. I thought they did, but maybe not.

"I know that churches are not having singing in their services because of this kind of stuff. I don't know if people realize it, but karaoke is as bad or worse, because they do it for a long period of time, you're in a closed space."

While scientists still have much to learn about COVID-19, evidence suggests that superspreader events—where one person infects many people in rapid succession—have played an outsized role in the spread of the virus. It is estimated that between 10 and 20 percent of infected people are responsible for around 80 percent of virus transmission.Gloria April, the secretary of the social club, said they tried to disperse people during the karaoke night on August 28, but their efforts were largely in vain. "We opened up the big room and tried to have people go into the big room and they didn't want to go," April told FlaglerLive. "They wanted to stay in the smaller area."

The club was supposed to operate at 50 percent capacity on the night, and attendees were asked to wear masks and practice social distancing.

From FlaglerLive:

Covid ‘Superspreader’ Karaoke Night at Social Club of Palm Coast Causes at Least 2 Deaths and Up to 50 Infections

superspreader social club palm coast
The Social Club of Palm Coast at 51 Old Kings Road North was previously known as the Columbian Club of Flagler County, and the Knights of Columbus before that. It shut down Sept. 1 after a karaoke night on Aug. 28 triggered a covid-19 superspreader event. (© FlaglerLive)

Palm Coast was the site of a rare Covid-19 “superspreader” event on a single night in late August. It claimed the lives of two people, with a third in hospice, and infected dozens of people, according to Flagler Health Department Chief Bob Snyder.

The superspreader was traced back with near certainty to karaoke night at the Palm Coast Social Club on Aug. 28, where people did not abide by social distancing or mask-wearing rules, and where singers belted song after song, without masks, despite studies that have pointed to such things as choir practice as cause for a disproportionate number of infections.

“This is actually a pretty dramatic event, it’s almost publishable, it’s that dramatic–50 people from one event, including deaths. It’s really a tragedy,” says Dr. Stephen Bickel, the medical director at the Flagler and Volusia health departments and a rigorous analyst of the latest covid-related medical literature. “It’s certainly profound ignorance of the risk. The public may not be aware of what a risk this is. I thought they did, but maybe not. I know that churches are not having singing in their services because of this kind of stuff. I don’t know if people realize it, but karaoke is as bad or worse, because they do it for a long period of time, you’re in a closed space.”

The superspreader is illustrating a growing consensus in scientific tracts about how, in a disproportionate number of cases, a small number of people is responsible for infecting large groups. Getting a better handle on that may help public health and other officials more effectively target the sort of events or situations that cause those larger outbreaks–like social events and gatherings–and thus more strategically or surgically limit those events, or make them more safe, without resorting to more wholesale bans or closures.

“This karaoke thing is a classic example, little old Flagler County has its own superspreading event,” Bickel said. “Most places will never have an event this dramatic.”

The superspreader is contributing to an ongoing spike in Flagler County cases driven by social clubs, K-12 schools and assisted living facilities or nursing homes. Grand Oaks Health and Rehabilitation Center and Tuscan Gardens assisted living in Palm Coast both saw large spikes of cases among residents and staff. The school district has confirmed at least 47 cases, between students and staff, since school reopened on Aug. 24 (four days before the superspreader event at the social club), including 20 cases at Old Kings Elementary, 11 at Flagler Palm Coast High School, and seven at Imagine School at Town Center, the charter school.

The spike has resulted in nearly 400 cases since the beginning of the month, and a current positivity rate above 10 percent, ending Flagler County’s long streak as the state’s county with the lowest rate of covid infections, out of 67 counties. The county’s rate of infection in the last seven days places it 39th in the state.

But no spike anywhere in the county approaches the numbers triggered by the superspreader at the social club.

The signs on the doors of the Social Club of Palm Coast today. (© FlaglerLive)
The signs on the doors of the Social Club of Palm Coast today. (© FlaglerLive)

The Social Club of Palm Coast at 51 Old Kings Road North was previously known as the Columbian Club of Flagler County, and the Knights of Columbus before that. It was shut down on Sept. 1 “Due to renovations and deep sanitization,” a note on Facebook, echoed by a note on its front door, states, with no mention of the covid outbreak. The club has hired ServePro to conduct weekly $450-deep cleanings that will continue after its scheduled reopening on Sept. 28.Snyder summed up the toll of the superspreader so far as “dozens of cases, two deaths, one person in hospice, a few hospitalizations, and additional cases are surfacing related to this club.” The counting is not over. “Many members of their club also belong to the Italian American Club, the fishing club and all the other clubs, but we talked to a lot of people, and it all stems back to the event on the 28th.” He added: “No one is singling out anyone. This is what the case investigation, contact tracing revealed, that common link in terms of the whereabouts of the individuals all tracing back to that one karaoke night.”

Other social clubs have continued operating, though April said they are barring entry to members of the Palm Coast Social Club.

A person familiar with events at the Palm Coast Social Club wrote FlaglerLive on Sept. 1 in an alert of what the person had witnessed there during an event for the Disabled American veterans. “The Flagler Sports Fishing Club held a fundraiser for them on August 21 at the Palm Coast Social Club,” the author of the email, who asked not to be identified, wrote. “It was packed — cheek by cheek, maybe 200 people, almost no masks, although people were required to wear them into the building. As soon as they came in, they took them off. I and two other people asked the titular head of the DAV to ask that the organizers make an announcement to keep masks on. A woman refused to do that. She is now dead. She had had symptoms for 10 days, had gone to the Palm Coast Social Club the night before for something (bingo?), and then to this. She checked into the hospital the next day, and has now passed away. Her husband is at Flagler Hospital and prognosis for him is not good.” (FlaglerLive verbally shared the email with Snyder at the time.)

Snyder stressed: “Basically we want to continue to implore this group and other social clubs to please practice social distancing and mask wearing when indoors especially.”

The August 28 event was headlined by Mike Kohn, a popular entertainer. “Come for Dinner, Drinks and Dance,” the club had advertised, $6 for members, $8 for non-members. Social club officials tried to disperse the high number of people at karaoke night, but they wouldn’t disperse. “We opened up the big room and tried to have people go into the big room and they didn’t want to go,” says Gloria April, recently elected secretary of the social club. “They wanted to stay in the smaller area.”

A 69-year-old woman died on Aug. 31 and a 74-year-old man died on Sept. 13 from covid-related infections traced back to the social club event, Snyder said. That brings Flagler County’s covid-related death tally to 23, not including two or three more individuals who died in Flagler of covid-related causes but were not Flagler residents, in a week when the nation’s covid death toll surpassed 200,000, and Florida’s had exceeded 13,500.

“I know of two people that have passed away but I’m not sure which ones they’re talking about,” April said of the deaths. “I know one of them was in the hospital and was being treated and was not on a blood thinner and threw a clot. The clot is what killed her. She was being treated for Covid, but because she wasn’t on a blood thinner it threw a clot to her heart. She had no underlying conditions that I know of. I had just been talking to her a few hours before. Text messaging.”

“I’m devastated that it’s our club that’s being pushed out there because we were so careful, and it was just this one night that it happened,” April continued. “It could have happened any place, not just ours. I’ve done everything that we can to prevent anything in the future.”

The club has a paid membership of 294 (single members pay $35 for a year’s membership, couples pay $55). It’s not clear how many people were there on karaoke night. The club was supposed to abide by a 50-percent capacity rule, and stresses that “we practice social distancing and face masks here.”

That night, many people did not. “Almost everybody that entered wore a mask,” April said, but once they started earring and drinking, the masks would come off, then patrons would start walking around without masks on, and of course there was the singing. It’s very difficult to get people to keep their mask on,” she said.

Social distancing, too, was an issue. “One table had 12 people at it and she tried to get the people to not sit, to disperse at that table, to bring it down to 6,” April said, referring to a club employee, “I know the governor says 10, or CDC says 10, but people want to sit together. You know, you can’t shoot people.”

When the club reopens, April said, patrons will see a different place, with carpeting removed, tables spread out, and the entire facility sanitized. “The big thing is making people wear their masks and not congregating in big groups,” she said. “We’ve taken it very, very seriously. Some of the other clubs are against us, and we know that, because we had this covid outbreak that we tried to prevent.” She added: “Our number 1 priority is making sure we’re safe for everybody and this outbreak has made us more aware and proactive in making sure it’s a safe environment. I think we’re going to be a safer club than any other club.”

The Social Club of Palm Coast indicated today it was still open. It's closed until Sept. 28. (© FlaglerLive)
The Social Club of Palm Coast indicated today it was still open. It’s closed until Sept. 28. (© FlaglerLive)