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Retired CDC official in The Villages urges community effort against COVID-19

A former CDC official says COVID-19 could be potentially catastrophic in The Villages retirement community in Central Florida. Photo: Joe Byrnes/WMFE

When it comes to outbreaks, Ronald Ballard says, the community response is key.

And he should know, the Villages retiree is a former associate director of the CDC’s Center for Global Health. He says COVID-19 could be potentially catastrophic for the sprawling Central Florida retirement community where he lives.

So he’s doing something about it.

He addressed a government committee this week and has been meeting with others to form a community organization. They hope to work within the system to support residents in need of care or under self-quarantine.

“The idea being that we have an organization which is community based, right in The Villages, right in the neighborhoods, that will fill the gaps provided, because there are going to be gaps, even at the local health level,” Ballard told the committee.

Their proposal includes supply management, communications work and delivery of food and medicine.

“In my experience in outbreak situations community involvement is absolutely necessary,” he said. “So I’ve been talking to a few groups around The Villages and there are a number of people who’ve already signed up.”

Ballard hopes the organization can be part of a coordinated response.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.