COVID-19 News & Resources

Please find this page as a resource when looking for updates on COVID-19 in your area and across the state of Florida.  I want to ensure you that I am staying in close contact with the Governor's office and actively participating in each update made available to the legislative branch.  This public health emergency is unprecedented in nature, and its impacts are changing by the hour.

For more information, please subscribe to my COVID-19 Update newsletters: http://kathleenpassidomo.com/newsletters/

To find the current volume of cases in Florida, including a breakdown by each county, visit the Florida Department of Health (DOH) COVID-19 Dashboard here

If you are experiencing symptoms, or have traveled internationally or to a heavily-infected area recently, please contact your local County Health Department.

Florida Department of Health

The Florida DOH remains the best and most up-to-date resource for information and guidance regarding COVID-19 in our state.

Executive Order 2020-104: Emergency Temporary Action Related to Unemployment Compensation (April 16, 2020)

The Executive Order suspends the requirement for an individual to report biweekly that she or he is able and available for work, has not refused suitable work, and is seeking work, in order to receive reemployment assistance. However, individuals receiving reemployment benefits may have to certify, biweekly, that they still need assistance. View Executive Order 2020-104 here.

Executive Order 2020-103: Vacation Rental Closures (April 10, 2020)

The Executive Order extends Executive Order 2020-87, suspending the operation of all vacation rentals until April 30, 2020. View Executive Order 2020-103 here.

Executive Order 20-97: Municipal Elections in Pasco County (April 8, 2020)

The Executive Order delays elections in Pasco County, specifically the municipal elections scheduled on April 14, 2020, for the cities of San Antonio, Dade City, and Zephyrhills, at the request of Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley.  A subsequent Executive Order rescheduling the elections will be issued as soon as is practicable.  View Executive Order 20-97 here.

Executive Order 2020-95: Documentary Stamps for SBA Loans (April 6, 2020)

The Executive Order directs the Department of Revenue to issue an emergency order suspending taxation imposed under Chapter 201, Florida Statutes, for notes and other written obligations made pursuant to Title I of the CARES Act. The Executive Order allows employers receiving money from the federal CARES Act to use the full dollar amount to pay their rent and help their employees. View Executive Order 2020-95 here.

Executive Order 2020-94: Mortgage Foreclosure and Eviction Relief (April 2, 2020)

The Executive Order suspends and tolls, for 45 days, all statutes related to a mortgage foreclosure cause of action or an eviction cause of action related to the nonpayment of rent. The Executive Order does not relieve a person from any obligations regarding rent and mortgage payments, however, it delays any cause of actions that may result from nonpayment. View Executive Order 2020-94 here.

Executive Order 2020-93: Reemployment Assistance Program (April 2, 2020)

The Executive Order deploys personnel from other agencies to assist the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) in reemployment assistance applications, requires DEO to accept paper applications, and allows for emergency procurements by DEO to support the Reemployment Assistance Program. View Executive Order 2020-93 here.

Executive Order 2020-92 amends Executive Order 20-91: Essential Services and Activities During COVID-19 Emergency (April 1, 2020)

The Executive Order amends Executive Order 2020-91 to clarify it supersedes any conflicting official action or order issued by local officials. View Executive Order 2020-92 here.

Executive Order 2020-91: Essential Services and Activities During COVID-19 Emergency (April 1, 2020)

The Executive Order requires all Floridians to limit their movements and interactions outside their home to only meeting their essential needs. Specifically, it orders seniors and at-risk individuals to stay at home and specifies that social gatherings are not considered an essential activity. The Executive Order identifies religious

services, recreational activity while practicing social distancing, taking care of pets, loved ones, or friends as all being essential activity. The Executive Order also encourages restaurants to continue to provide delivery, carry-out, and curbside services. View Executive Order 2020-91 here.

Executive Order 2020-90: Broward and Palm Beach County Closures (March 31, 2020)

The Executive Order extends the restrictions related to beach closures in Broward and Palm Beach counties. The Executive Order also authorizes county administrators to enforce, relax, modify, or remove these beach closures, as warranted, but clarifies that this order will remain in effect for the length of the state of emergency for the entire State of Florida as a result of COVID-19. View Executive Order 2020-90 here.

Executive Order 2020-89: Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County, Monroe County Public Access Restrictions (March 30, 2020)

The Executive Order orders Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County and Monroe County to restrict public access to businesses and facilities deemed non-essential pursuant to the guidelines established by Miami-Dade County. The Executive Order further clarifies that essential service establishments are not subject to closure and that the counties outlined may not institute curfews pertaining to transit to or from essential service establishments. View Executive Order 2020-89 here.

Executive Order 2020-88: Re-employment of Essential Personnel (FRS) (March 30, 2020)

The Executive Order tolls certain termination and re-employment requirements for specified Florida Retirement System employees who have retired since October 1, 2019, or who may retire prior to or on August 1, 2020 under a state administered retirement system if the re-employment or continued employment assists the COVID-19 emergency response. The Executive Order applied to employees in the following mission-critical categories: law enforcement officers, first responders, emergency management and public safety personnel, health and medical professionals and, other critical COVID-19 response personnel as identified and determined by a state agency head. Re-employment shall be permitted until thirty days after the expiration of Executive Order 20-52, or any extension thereof, not to extend beyond August 1, 2022. View Executive Order 2020-88 here.

Executive Order 2020-87: Vacation Rental Closures (March 27, 2020)

The Executive Order suspends the operation of all vacation rentals for two weeks. View Executive Order 2020-87 here.

Executive Order 2020-86: Additional Requirements of Certain Individuals Traveling to Florida (March 27, 2020)

The Executive Order directs all people who enter the State of Florida, including those entering by roadway, from an area with substantial community spread, including the State of Louisiana, to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into the State of Florida or the duration of the person’s presence in the State of Florida, whichever is shorter. View Executive Order 2020-86 here.

Executive Order 2020-86 Enforcement and Guidance on Out-of-State Travelers

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is coordinating with the DOH and the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) to implement Executive Order 20-86.  The order expands on Executive Order 20-80 on travelers from the New York Tri-State area to include the State of Louisiana to self-isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days. This is due to the large outbreak in the New Orleans area.    

Air-Travel

To further assist with the implementation of the executive orders, FDOT has requested that each public-use airport provide data, including existing scheduled flights that will originate from the greater New York area, to ensure DOH staff and law enforcement are on site upon the flight’s arrival.  Only the Federal Aviation Administration can suspend domestic travel so it is critical that our state makes sure travelers do not further spread the virus in our community.

Highway Enforcement

FDOT, in coordination with DOH and the FHP, is providing guidance to motorists entering Florida from areas with significant community spread.  Motorists who are traveling from areas with substantial community spread including Louisiana, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, will be required to isolate for a period of 14 days upon entry to Florida or for the duration of their visit, whichever is shorter and should be prepared for additional monitoring by DOH to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

Upon entry in Florida, each arriving traveler or responsible family member (if traveling as a family) will be required to complete the traveler form distributed to air travelers and also be provided a traveler card.
Florida Highway Patrol will staff the checkpoint at I-10 at the Alabama/Florida line, 24 hours a day with approximately 16 troopers in 12-hour shifts.

FHP will also staff the checkpoint at I-95 at the Georgia/Florida line.

Executive Order 2020-85: Telehealth and Immunizations for State Group Insurance (March 26, 2020)

The Executive Order provides Florida’s state employees with telehealth services while Florida is under a declared state of emergency. Telehealth services obtained by state workers pursuant to the order will be provided at no additional cost. The Executive Order also directs that employees participating in the State Employees Group Insurance Program be provided with the option to receive free flu shots from their health care provider for the duration of the state of emergency. View Executive Order 2020-85 here.

Executive Order 2020-83: Protective Measure for Vulnerable Populations, Gatherings of Private Citizens and Density of the Workforce (March 24, 2020)

The Executive Order directs the State Surgeon General and State Health Officer to recommend and enforce efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 by limiting non-essential movements of senior citizens, and by enacting stronger social distancing recommendations for all of Florida’s citizens. The Executive Order directs the State Surgeon General and State Health Officer to issue a public health advisory urging all persons over 65 years of age, and persons that have a serious underlying medical condition, to stay home in an effort to reduce their risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus. The Executive Order also contains a directive that recommends stronger social distancing practices, advising against all social or recreational gatherings of 10 or more people, and encourages Floridians who have the ability to work remotely to do so. View Executive Order 2020-83 here.

Executive Order 2020-82: Isolation of Individuals Traveling to Florida (March 24, 2020)

The Executive Order directs all people who enter the State of Florida from an area with substantial community spread, to include the New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey and New York), to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into the State of Florida or the duration of the person’s presence in the State of Florida, whichever is shorter. View Executive Order 2020-82 here.

Executive Order 2020-80: Airport Screening and Isolation (March 23, 2020)

The Executive Order directs all people whose point of departure originates from outside the State of Florida in an area with substantial community spread, to include the New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey and New York), and entering the State of Florida through airports to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into the State of Florida or the duration of the person’s presence in the State of Florida, whichever is shorter. View Executive Order 2020-80 here.

Executive Order 2020-72: Non-essential Elective Medical Procedures (March 20, 2020)

The Executive Order delays all non-essential, elective medical procedures that would not endanger patient’s health as the state responds to the growing pandemic. The Executive Order follows a March 18, 2020 recommendation by the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to limit all non-essential elective medical, surgical, and dental procedures until further notice. The Executive Order is an attempt to conserve medical supplies, including personal protective equipment, to only that which is necessary to be used in response to this emergency or for any other medical event of urgent medical nature. The Executive Order applies to all hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, office surgery centers, dental, orthodontic and endodontic offices, and other health care practitioners’ offices. View Executive Order 2020-72 here.

Executive Order 2020-71: Alcohol Sales, Restaurants, and Gyms (March 20, 2020)

The Executive Order closes all restaurant dining areas, but allows a restaurant to continue to operate for the purpose of take-out and delivery. The Executive Order also suspends the sale of alcohol for consumption on premise for all restaurants, but allows the sale of to-go alcoholic beverages with food orders. Additionally, the Executive Order suspends the operation of all commercial gyms and fitness centers. View Executive Order 2020-71 here.

Executive Order 2020-70: Broward and Palm Beach County Closures (March 20, 2020)

The Executive Order orders all restaurants, bars, and similar establishments with seating for more than ten people within the incorporated and unincorporated areas of Broward County and Palm Beach County to close on premise service of customers. The order clarifies that these establishments could continue to operate for purposes of providing delivery services and that these restrictions would not apply to restaurants are ancillary to essential services, such as airports or hospitals. Additionally, the Executive Order closes all movie theatres, gyms, arcades, beaches, and other similar establishments. View Executive Order 2020-70 here

Executive Order 2020-69: Local Government Public Meetings (March 20, 2020)

The Executive Order suspends Florida Statute that requires a quorum to be present or requires a local government body to meet in a public place. The order also authorizes local government bodies to use technology such as telephones or video conferencing for purposes of conducting business. View Executive Order 2020-69 here.

Executive Order 2020-68: Bars, Beaches, and Restaurants (March 17, 2020)

The Executive Order suspends bars from serving alcohol for 30 days, limits beachgoers on public beaches to congregate in parties of no more than ten people, at least six feet apart, and limits restaurants’ occupancies to no more than 50% of its allowable building occupancy. Additionally, the Executive Order requires the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to ensure that restaurants have put into place certain employee health screenings to safeguard customers from potential exposure to COVID-19. View Executive Order 2020-68 here.

Executive Order 2020-68 Compliance & Guidance

To assist with answering questions, the DBPR recently launched an easy-to-use form for complaints relating to EO 20-68. You may view FAQs related to restaurants, bars, and nightclubs here.

The DBPR Emergency Information Page includes the latest information and guidance for department stakeholders related to agency actions, updated meeting schedules and other available resources for businesses during this state of emergency.  This page will continue to be updated as additional guidance and notices are published related to department stakeholders and department operations

Access the DBPR Emergency Information page at: http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/emergency.

Executive Order 2020-52: Public Health Emergency (March 9, 2020)

The Executive Order declares Florida to be in a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Executive Order directs certain powers to the Surgeon General and director of the Division of Emergency Management and activates the Florida National Guard. Additionally, the Executive Order allows the Governor to direct funds as necessary for critical supplies, equipment and personnel needs. The Executive Order also allows out-of-state medical professionals to practice in Florida for the duration of the order and permits pharmacists to prescribe up to a 30-day emergency refill of prescription drugs as needed. View Executive Order 2020-52 here.

Executive Order 2020-51: Establishes Coronavirus Response Protocols and Directs Public Health Emergency (March 1, 2020)

The Executive Order directs Surgeon General Scott Rivkees to declare a public health emergency to prepare and equip Florida with the resources needed to handle COVID-19’s emerging threat to public health. By issuing the Executive Order, the Surgeon General, acting as Florida’s State Health Officer, is authorized and directed to use his judgement and to take any action necessary to protect the public health for the duration of the emergency. The Executive Order directs the State Health Officer to follow guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in establishing protocols to control the spread of COVID-19 and educate the public on prevention. Importantly, the Executive Order directs the Department of Health the actively monitor, at a minimum, all persons suspected of having contracted COVID-19 for a period of at least 14 days or until the persons tests negative for the virus. Monitoring includes a risk assessment within 24 hours of learning an individual meets the criteria to be monitored, and twice-daily temperature checks. This Executive Order is an important first step for the State of Florida to be able to leverage all resources to prepare for a response to the spread of COVID-19. View Executive Order 2020-51 here.

 

View All Executive Orders Issued: https://www.flgov.com/2020-executive-orders/

Local State of Emergencies in Full Effect for Collier, Lee & Hendry County 

During the week of March 16, Collier, Lee and Hendry County declared local state of emergencies to encourage social-distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

For more information, visit your county website for local updates:

Local COVID-19 Testing Locations

NCH Healthcare System, Lee Health, and Florida Community Health Centers, Inc. (FCHC) are currently offering COVID-19 testing by appointment only. For the latest updates on testing locations and how to schedule an appointment visit the links below.

Local Hospitals Team Up to Combat COVID-19 as a Community

SWFL Stronger Together is a collaborative campaign with Lee Health and NCH Healthcare.  The philanthropic effort will help fund the elevated supply of certain critical resources and equipment such as ventilators, protective gear, drive-thru testing sites among others. 

Please visit swfltogether.org for more details.

Lee Health is also offering TeleHealth services free of charge for a limited time.  Lee TeleHealth is an on-demand medical service, to receive care from the comfort of your own home. 

Learn more, here.

Safely Support Local Small Businesses

Despite restrictions in place to promote social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19, many of your favorite local restaurants remain open with limited services for takeout or delivery.  In fact, over 208 local businesses have continued to offer takeout and deliver services.

To promote these small businesses and keep residents up-to-date, the Naples Daily News has an ongoing, updated list of local restaurants and their current status.

Click here to view the list of restaurants. 

Stores Offering Specialty Shopping Hours

CDC has reported that individuals over the age of 65 are at increased risk of complications from the coronavirus.  In response to the CDC, Publix and many stores are offering expanded hours to better support the elder community.

Publix: Publix is designating Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, 7:00 – 8:00 a.m., as senior shopping hours for customers age 65 and over.  This change in hours will begin Tuesday, March 24, and continue until further notice.  Publix Pharmacy will also open at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to serve our senior population.

Costco: Beginning March 24 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., Costco will temporarily implement special operating hours for members who are 60 and older and those with physical disabilities.  The pharmacy will also be open during this hour. 

Fresh Market: All stores will be open between 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., seven days a week.  Additionally, on weekdays the first shopping hour of 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. will be reserved for seniors and other individuals most at risk (those with chronic health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes).

Target: All stores will reserve the first hour of shopping each Wednesday to support vulnerable guests, including the elderly and those with underlying health concerns.

Walmart: From March 24 through April 28, stores will host an hour-long senior shopping event every Tuesday for customers aged 60 and older. This will start one hour before your local store opens.  Pharmacies and Vision Centers will also be open during this time.

Whole Foods Market: Stores in the U.S. and Canada will also service customers who are 60 and older one hour before opening to the general public, under the new adjusted hours posted on the store’s web page. Visit your local store's website for more information.

Southwest Florida Events Canceled

Due to CDC guidelines on social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, many events have been canceled. 

The Naples Daily News is working to keep the public informed of these events and has a running list on their website.  If you know of a cancellation or postponement, email features@naplesnews.com.

Visit the Southwest Florida events page here.

Local School Food Distribution 

School districts are offering free breakfast and lunch for students under the age of 18, please see below for more information on your county's schedule and distribution locations. Click the links below for meal pick-up locations or deliveries in your county.

Reminder: Per federal regulations, children 18 and under must be present to receive meals at any of these locations.

Call/Text 2-1-1 for Free Children’s Meals During COVID-19
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has activated a 2-1-1 to text line and call center, which families can contact to find free meals for children under 18 during the current COVID-19 school closures. 

Floridians can now text FLKIDSMEALS to 211-211 to find their closest participating Summer BreakSpot location, and can also call 2-1-1 to speak with a live operator 24 hours a day for additional locations.

South Florida Water Management District Temporarily Closing Public Access to Some District Lands to Protect Public Safety

To help prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 and protect public safety, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) will temporarily close public access for recreation to several District-managed properties, effective at 6:00 p.m. on April 1.  The District is following the guidance of Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Florida DOH, and the CDC.

The District-managed properties that have been closed to public access include:

Glades County

  • Kissimmee River Public Use Area

Highlands County

  • Hickory Hammock Wildlife Management Area
  • Kissimmee River Public Use Area

Okeechobee County

  • Kissimmee River Public Use Area

Osceola County

  • Kissimmee River Public Use Area
  • KICCO Wildlife Management Area
  • Lake Marion Creek Wildlife Management Area
  • Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Management Area

Palm Beach County

  • John C. and Mariana Jones Hungryland Wildlife and Environmental Management Area
  • Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) 1 West, STA 1 East, STA 2 and STA 3/4
  • A-1 Flow Equalization Basin
  • Cypress Creek and Loxahatchee River Management Area
  • Site 1 Impoundment Area 
  • DuPuis Management Area

Polk County

  • Kissimmee River Public Use Area
  • KICCO Wildlife Management Area
  • Lake Marion Creek Wildlife Management Area
  • Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Management Area

Martin County

  • Cypress Creek and Loxahatchee River Management Area
  • DuPuis Management Area

Miami-Dade County

  • Southern Glades Wildlife and Environmental Area and Frog Pond Public Small Game Management Area
  • Rocky Glades Public Small Game Management Area

Updates about other SFWMD-managed properties will be announced to the public as they develop.  SFWMD continues to coordinate with the Florida Division of Emergency Management to respond to COVID-19. Learn more about the District's response, here.

Local State Beaches, Islands and Boat Ramp Advisory

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) asks you to boat responsibly and take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

  • Do not congregate on beaches or sandbars
  • Do not tie up to other boats to socialize
  • Limit passengers to members of your household
  • Practice social distancing while at boat ramps and marinas

Please be aware that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has closed all state-owned beaches, islands, sandbars and barrier islands within aquatic preserves. This includes Keewaydin Island and Cape Romano. Vessel landings are now strictly prohibited under this closure.

Collier County Sheriff’s Office and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office will be assisting the FWC with awareness, education and enforcement. Failure to comply is a violation of Florida Statute 775.08(3) and is punishable by a fine of up to $500.

The Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) Issues Emergency Order Regarding Condominium Associations & Owners

On Friday, March 27, DBPR  issued Emergency Order 2020-04 that suspends certain conditions of the emergency powers normally held by the association board of a condominium, cooperative, or homeowners’ association during the state of emergency.  This will allow for the exercise of these powers by the state unless they are specifically prohibited by the provisions of the association’s governing documents.  Requirements pertaining to the preparation, submittal or filing of certain financial reports and statements of a condominium association, cooperative association, or timeshare plan have been suspended and tolled.  

The emergency order waives the assessment of pilotage earned by harbor pilots for March and April 2020. It also extends the deadline for the filing of a harbor pilot’s annual earnings statement from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020.  

The order additionally includes the suspension of any restriction which would prohibit an active Florida-licensed veterinarian from practicing telemedicine on a patient.

Travel Advisory Updates

At this time, CDC recommends avoiding nonessential travel.

If you are returning from an area with an outbreak of COVID-19 the CDC recommends self-quarantine for 14 days immediately upon return from your travels, even if you are asymptomatic.

If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath during those 14 days please contact your health care professional and mention your recent travel.

Your provider will work with your local County Health Department (CHD) to determine if  COVID-19 testing is necessary.

If you have had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from an impacted area, you should call a health care professional and mention your close contact and their recent travel.

For the most updated COVID-10 travel advisories, visit: U.S. Travel Advisories and CDC Information for Travel

Social Distancing Guidance

In areas where there are multiple cases of COVID-19, there is a concern about “community spread.”  Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

This is why staying home, avoiding travel and crowds, and practicing social distancing is so important.  Although young people may not be in as much risk of death as individuals over 65, they can catch and spread the virus just as easily. 

The Symptoms & Spread of COVID-19

Symptoms of COVID-19 include: 

  • Fever;
  • Cough; and
  • Shortness of breath.

Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days following exposure.  Most people
recover from COVID-19 without needing special treatment.

The elderly and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.

There is currently no FDA-approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19. However, trials for a vaccine began today.

COVID-19 can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, including when an individual coughs or sneezes.  These droplets may land on objects and surfaces.  Other people may contract COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

Preventative Measures to Protect You & Your Family

As there is no current FDA-approved vaccine at this time to prevent COVID-19, the best prevention method is to avoid being exposed to the virus,  and to avoid personal contact with others, especially our elderly population. 

Here are some everyday preventive actions to help impede the spread of respiratory diseases: 

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
  • Staying home when you are sick and avoiding contact with persons in poor health;
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then disposing of the tissue;
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing;
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty; and
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Please note, the CDC does not recommend that asymptomatic, healthy people wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.  Facemasks should be used only by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.

Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.  The use of face masks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

For more prevention and treatment tips, please visit: 

Feeling Unwell? Practice Contact Tracing

If you are feeling unwell and/or diagnosed with COVID-19, it is important to remember and inform those who you may have in been in contact with before contracting the disease. Doctors and epidemiologists will work with you to contact trace and will help to prevent the spread of the disease. 

Learn More About The The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, expands Reemployment Assistance benefits.  The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) is working diligently to incorporate the new provisions of the CARES Act to ensure all Floridians who are eligible get their full amount of benefits.

DEO will issue additional information about Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance as it becomes available.  Benefits will be paid from the date they became eligible under the CARES Act.  At this time, individuals who apply for Reemployment Assistance whose employment was negatively impacted as a result of COVID-19 will follow the same application, review and payment process as all applicants for Reemployment Assistance in Florida.

View CARES Flowchart here.  

FEMA Advisories 

Click the links below to view the most recent FEMA advisories. 

U.S. SBA Disaster Assistance in Response to COVID-19

​The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state’s or territory’s Governor, SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration.

Learn more about low-interest federal disaster loans here.

Bank of America Partners with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) for Small Business Loans

Bank of America supports local economies by partnering with CDFIs across the U.S., and Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Through these innovative partnerships, Bank of America is connecting small business owners to more capital, to help communities continue to thrive.

Visit the website here

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Launches COVID-19 Resource Webpage

The USDA Rural Development office has taken a number of actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.  Rural Development plans to` keep customers, partners and stakeholders continuously updated as more actions are taken to better serve rural America. 

Visit the USDA Rural Development resource page here.

Reemployment Assistance (RA) Benefits

If your employment has been negatively impacted because of mitigation efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, you may be eligible to receive Reemployment Assistance.

Eligibility requirements for RA include:

  • Individuals who are quarantined by a medical professional or a government agency;
  • Those who are laid off or sent home without pay for an extended period by their employer due to COVID-19 concerns; and
  • Persons who are caring for an immediate family member who is diagnosed with COVID-19

Temporary Layoff Program

An employee that is temporarily laid off from work may also be eligible for RA benefits.  You can file your claim by accessing CONNECT through www.floridajobs.org in the Reemployment Assistance Service Center in the right-hand corner of the page.

People who need assistance filing a claim online because of legal reasons, computer illiteracy, language barriers, or disabilities may call 1-800-204-2418.

CARES Act Offering Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Individuals who are self-employed, independent contractors, and nonprofit employees, those that are otherwise ineligible for state Reemployment Assistance benefits and those that have exhausted state and federal benefits may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

As federal guidance is still in development, individuals are encouraged to apply for benefits from DEO – to see if the individual is eligible for a regular claim and to be positioned to receive PUA benefits, if eligible.

DEO suggests that after the individual submits a claim, he or she should continue to check the CONNECT account for updates on what additional information is needed.

DEO is implementing federal guidance for the program that was released on April 5 and taking the necessary steps to facilitate state participation in the program.

Click here to learn more about DEO's statewide implementation of the program.

Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program

DEO works with the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation to provide cash flow to businesses economically impacted by COVID-19.

The short-term, interest-free loans of up to $50,000 to help bridge the gap between the time the economic impact occurred and when a business secures other financial resources. 

The program is currently closed to new applications, but those applications postmarked April 13 will continue to be reviewed. Visit FloridaDisaster.biz to learn more. Click here to check the status of your application.

Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan

The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue businesses may be experiencing. 

Learn More: Economic Injury Disaster Loans

DEO Conducting Business Damage Assessment Survey

The Business Damage Assessment Survey is a critical piece of DEO’s efforts to help gather the information needed to evaluate and access tools to help businesses potentially lessen the impacts of COVID-19 and help the economy recover. To submit a survey response, please click the button below. 

Submit a survey response here

Short-Time Compensation Program

The Short-Time Compensation Program is designed to provide assistance and benefits to employees that have had work hours and earnings reduced as part of a Short-Time Compensation plan to avoid a total layoff of some employees.

This program allows employers to avoid the expense of recruiting, hiring, and training new workers when business conditions improve.  While employees are spared the hardships of full unemployment, employers are able to retain employees who can resume high production levels when business conditions improve.

Learn more about the program here.

Emergency Support Function (ESF) 18

The purpose of ESF 18 is to coordinate local, state and federal agencies and organizations' actions that will provide immediate and short-term assistance for the needs of business, industry and economic stabilization.

For assistance please email ESF18@em.myflorida.com.

Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) Announces Personal Care Attendant Program

The Florida AHCA recently launched a program to allow personal care attendants to temporarily perform additional duties. This program will provide nursing homes with an avenue to hire Floridians currently out of work to fill staffing shortages.

The Personal Care Attendant Program provides an 8-hour training of required skills to assist in direct care which is then supported with continued on-the-job training supervised by nursing staff. AHCA encourages facilities to provide additional educational training so personal care attendants who wish to seek a career as a Certified Nursing Assistant can obtain needed competency to do so.

Job listings can be found here or by directly contacting nursing homes across the state.

AHCA Creates Data Dashboard of Florida Hospital Bed Availability

AHCA recently published a data dashboard of current hospital bed availability to provide the public with greater visibility on hospital capacity and census.  The dashboard includes four tabs with information on Hospital Beds by County, Hospital Beds by Hospital,  ICU Beds by County, and ICU Beds by Hospital. 

View AHCA's hospital bed data dashboard here.

Attorney General Issues Consumer Alert on Cyber Crime While Working from Home

On April 1, Attorney General Ashley Moody issued a Consumer Alert urging Floridians to guard against cybercrimes when working from home.

Steps Floridians can take to protect sensitive customer information, trade secrets or other information while working remotely include:

  • Using a secure internet connection;
  • Ensuring all security software is updated and in working order. Additionally, ensuring that the device’s operating system is updated regularly;
  • Creating strong passwords and utilizing different passwords across multiple websites and applications. Do not use easy to guess security questions;
  • Limiting the use of work devices only for work activities. Use personal devices for leisure;
  • Locking work devices when not in use and never leaving them unattended;
  • Enabling multi-factor authentication when available. Some employers allow employees to provide an additional email address or phone number to receive codes to verify that the user is in fact the individual attempting to access an account; and
  • Contacting IT if receiving unsolicited verification calls or codes. This is a sign that credentials were phished successfully, but login failed because of multi-factor authentication.

Anyone who suspects they are the victim of a scam should contact the Attorney General’s Office at 1(866) 9NO-SCAM or by visiting MyFloridaLegal.com.

Florida Housing Provides Resources for Floridians

Florida Housing created a COVID-19 webpage with a list of resources for various stakeholders, from renters fearing eviction to Realtors and homeowners. This information can be accessed from our homepage by clicking on the COVID-19 link at www.floridahousing.org.

The State Housing Initiatives Partnership program (SHIP) is providing flexibility to address changing circumstances.  Florida Housing hopes to appropriate $5 million dollars next week to participating local governments for rental assistance in their communities.  Some SHIP administrators are revising their Local Housing Assistance Plans to allow for rental assistance and other needs.

Under Executive Order 20-52, local governments can request waivers to certain SHIP requirements. The waivers we have considered and approved allow the local officials to:

  • Provide direct rental assistance to tenants who have lost or reduced employment;
  • Provide mortgage assistance payments to owners who have lost or reduced employment;
  • Offer foreclosure and other counseling services; and
  • Ensure advertisement of available funds.

If you need rental assistance, please contact your local SHIP office.

Florida Housing has strongly discouraged property owners from increasing rental rates at this time. Florida Housing does not establish median incomes, income limits, or rental rates for any development. 

Median family income amounts and income limits are determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and published once during each federal fiscal year, typically during the second calendar quarter. HUD recently released the 2020 limits.  Rent limits are posted on the Florida Housing website, however, are simply limits -- amounts above which an owner cannot go -- rather than a required amount that must be charged. 

To view affordable properties for rent, click the button below titled, here, for a rental housing locator. 

Click here, to find your local SHIP administrator online.

View all Florida Housing resources at www.floridahousing.org.

Partnership Announced to Support Meals to the Elderly

The Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) announced a partnership with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) that allows the needs of the business community to be matched with the needs of the elderly.

DOEA’s 11 Area Agencies on Aging throughout the state will work with local volunteers and other local service providers to ensure meal delivery to Florida’s most vulnerable population.  Meal delivery by volunteers and other organizations will also combat the social isolation of seniors by providing the simple interaction of food delivery to the doorstep of an elder.

Contact our local Area Agency on Aging at 239-652-6900

United Way COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund

For families in need, United Way can help you find assistance for bills, rent and food. Call 866-211-9966 for the list of local agencies that can help you or search 211 here.

Florida Power & Light Plans to Lower Customer Bills

Florida Power & Light (FPL) Company today announced its plan to significantly lower bills for the second time this year and fast-track savings to customers amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  Subject to Florida Public Service Commission approval, beginning May 1, FPL plans to issue a one-time decrease of nearly 25% for the typical residential customer bill as a result of lower fuel costs.  

Lower fuel costs are enabling FPL to issue a one-time decrease of nearly 25% for the typical residential customer bill, beginning May 1.  FPL plans to issue the savings through a one-time bill decrease in order to accelerate savings to customers amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, rather than the standard practice of spreading out savings over the remainder of the year.  Business customers will also see a significant one-time decrease in May, that will vary by rate class.

Florida Blue Sponsors Bilingual Emotional Support Helpline

Florida Blue has provided a 24-hour, bilingual emotional support helpline to assist Floridians with any stress they may be feeling during the #COVID19 pandemic. If you're feeling stressed, contact the helpline at 833-848-1762.

Florida's K-12 Education Legislative Update

There has been an ongoing discussion on whether K-12 schools will reopen this year.  Governor Ron DeSantis said there has been no decision made beyond the current May 1 expiration of his executive order. He also allowed consideration that schools could reopen in parts of Florida lesser affected by COVID-19, mostly in the rural and panhandle areas.

The Governor moderated a roundtable discussion on K-12 education that included the CEO of Florida Virtual School, Pinellas County Superintendent Mike Grego, a principal and teacher of a Pinellas school, a Seminole County elementary teacher and an Alachua County parent.

The discussion focused on distance learning activities in Florida's schools with some examples being cited. Grego noted high levels of student participation in Florida schools (Supt. Kam Patton reports 98.9% in Collier County). Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, K-12 Chancellor Jacob Oliva and student services director Andrew Weatherill highlighted other issues including counseling, webinar trainings and the waiver of teacher certification fees and more.

To watch the full roundtable discussion, visit the link here.

 

Update: On April 18, it was decided that distance learning will continue for the remainder of the 2019-2020 calendar year.

 

Florida Department of Education Provides Educational Resources

The Florida Department of Education (FDOE)  has made resources for students, parents and school districts for distance learning.  The page also contains extensive information on the state’s response to COVID-19.

CPALMS, Khan Academy, Floridastudents.org and additional educational resources are stepping up to serve Florida families free of charge, with thousands of online courses, lessons and practice exercises and videos so students can continue their education. Click here for Florida Department of Education Family Resources.

DOE Offering ‘Mini Grants’ to Support Distance Learning Efforts

The Florida DOE and the Florida Education Foundation (FEF) recently announced the availability of mini-grants to individual schools related to distance learning innovation.

The FEF aims to support Florida’s teachers, learners, and leaders as they navigate the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and implement Instructional Continuity Plans for Distance Learning.

With the help of several generous partners, FEF is providing an opportunity for school districts, traditional public schools, public charter schools, and non-profits to apply for innovation mini-grants up to $5,000 to support Distance Learning through innovative initiatives and strategies.

You can contact the Florida Education Foundation at (850) 245-0764 or FEF@fldoe.org.

Click here to view eligibility and program criteria and deadlines.

FDOE Institutes Distance Learning

Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran has directed public and private K-12 and career and technical center campuses to close through May 1, 2020.

Schools are encouraged to operate virtually or through other non-classroom-based means to the greatest extent possible to implement distance learning.

School districts should be prepared to extend their educational calendars through June 30, 2020, to the extent feasible and necessary. 

K-12 School Exams Canceled & Deadlines Waived

Governor Ron DeSantis and FDOE Commissioner Corcoran canceled all remaining assessments for school readiness, voluntary prekindergarten and K-12 assessments for the 2019-2020 school year. 

End of course assessments and exams, requirements for graduation and promotion, and final course grades will be canceled, and current grades will be evaluated as though those assessments did not exist.

K-12 school grades will not be calculated for 2019-2020, and schools in turnaround may continue their current status for 2020-2021 to avoid disruption to school leadership and operations. 

Florida Bright Futures Requirements

Eligibility for Florida Bright Futures scholarships shall be based on available data and results. Tests that were not available to be taken shall not be counted. 

Unspent Funds Redirected for Student Mental Health Counseling

K-12 school districts are permitted to redirect unspent 2019-2020 funds from the Safe Schools and Mental Health allocations to virtual and telephonic mental health counseling services for students who need emotional support due to COVID-19. 

College Board to Allow Remote Advanced Placement Review & Testing

On Wednesday, March 25, Florida students began receiving free, live Advanced Placement (AP) review lessons delivered by AP teachers from across the country.  These optional, mobile-friendly classes are designed to be used alongside work that may be given by schools.

In addition, for the 2019-20 AP Exam administration only, the College Board is developing secure 45-minute online exams for each course.  These streamlined digital exams will not require any test booklet shipments, external proctors or any additional workload for schools.

The exam content will focus on what schools were able to complete by early March.  Students can take the exam on any device they have access to – computer, tablet or smartphone.

For more information, visit AP COVID-19 update.

Public Higher Education Campuses Closed Through End of Semester

The State University System (SUS) has directed all public state college and university campuses will be closed for the remainder of the spring semester.

All state universities should continue remote instruction through the end of the spring semester.  All students who are able to return home have been strongly advised to do so.

The SUS  has also directed that traditional on-campus commencement ceremonies will not be held in May.  Instead, each university is directed to develop an alternate schedule or method of delivery.

Florida Virtual School to Provide 100 Free Digital Courses to All Florida Schools

On March 30, Florida Virtual School (FLVS) announced that they will provide up to 100 free digital courses to all Florida schools for Florida students through the end of the school year.

These courses are available to students in Kindergarten through 12th grade and will be hosted through select Learning Management Systems (LMS).  The courses are developed by FLVS and include Mathematics, English Language Arts, History, Science, diverse electives, Advanced Placement, and Career & Technical Education courses that will be provided for free from March 25 through June 30, 2020.

FLVS digital courses will be made available on the following LMS platforms: Blackboard (Ultra and v9.1), Buzz, Canvas, Brightspace (v9, v10), Moodle, and Schoology. Each Florida school district, charter school, and private school can select up to 100 digital courses to serve their students. 

Learn more and enroll in courses at: https://www.flvs.net/coronavirus

Need a Social Distancing Activity? Visit the Florida Electronic Library

Since 2003, the Florida Electronic Library (FEL) through the Florida Department of State has provided over 190 million articles, e-books, videos and other electronic resources to the citizens of Florida.  While children are home during the #COVID19 outbreak, you can find ways to incorporate learning opportunities in day-to-day activities.

Visit the library, here.

Florida Department of Health

The Florida Department of Health is actively involved in enhanced surveillance for any respiratory illness that may be COVID-19.  For any questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact DOH's Call Center: 

Please note the call center is available 24/7.

Epidemiologists will follow up on any suspected cases that meet criteria for COVID-19 to arrange for testing when needed and monitor contacts of any confirmed cases, if they occur. Epidemiologic consultation is available 24/7 through your local county health departments and Bureau of Epidemiology.

  • Florida Bureau of Epidemiology: 850-245-4401

Collier County 

  • Immokalee Office: 239-252-7300
  • Naples Main Office: 239-252-8200

Hendry County

  • Clewiston Office: 863-983-1408
  • LaBelle Office: 863-674-4041

Lee County 

  • Main Office - Michigan Clinic: 239-332-9501
  • Pondella Clinic: 239-461-6100 (for appointment)
  • WIC - Bonita Springs: 239-344-2000 (for appointment)
  • WIC - Lehigh Acres: 239-344-2000 (for appointment)

Emergency 

  • Dial 911
  • Emergency Hotline: 311 or 239-252-8444 
  • City of Naples Emergency Services: 239-213-4844
  • American Red Cross: 239-596-6868

For more information, subscribe to my COVID-19 Update Newsletters, here.