Coronavirus: What You Need To Know

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Here is information on COVID-19 in Northwest Florida. We will keep this post updated with the latest information from local, and statewide agencies. 

For information from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: cdc.gov/coronavirus

For updates on Florida cases of coronavirus, visit the FDOH dashboard.

For Florida Department of Health: floridahealth.gov. The COVID-19 call center is available 24/7 at 1-866-779-6121

Sunday April 5, 2020

Escambia has 125 cases

As of 10 a.m., Escambia County has had 125 positive COVID-19 cases. This number is expected to change daily due to the return of results from ongoing testing. For the most up-to-date information regarding confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida, visit the COVID-19 dashboard. The site is currently updated twice daily.

One resident of Escambia County who has tested positive for COVID-19 has died.

Four more Florida deaths

The state Department of Health on Saturday issued the following news:

Four people have died who tested positive for COVID-19 in Broward, Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties.

As of 5 p.m. Central, there were 11,545 Florida cases.

While Florida’s testing has increased over the past week, the percent of those testing positive for COVID-19 overall is 11 percent. Of the 11,725 tests performed on April 3, there were 1,597 positive results, or 14 percent.

Saturday, April 4

113 cases in Escambia

As of 9 a.m. today Escambia County has had 113 positive COVID-19 cases. This number is expected to change daily due to the return of results from ongoing testing. For the most up-to-date information regarding confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida, visit the COVID-19 dashboard. The site is currently updated twice daily.

Escambia sees first death

The state Department of Health this morning announced the first Escambia County death related to COVID- 19.

That death was one of 21 who died since Friday morning. The others are in in Bay, Broward, Dade, Orange, Palm Beach, Polk, Seminole and Volusia counties.

As of 10 a.m. Central today, there are 11,111 total Florida cases.

While Florida’s testing has increased over the past week, the percent of those testing positive for COVID-19 overall is 11 percent. Of the 11,725 tests performed on April 3, there were 1,597 positive results, or 14 percent.

New Florida cases include:

  • 843 additional positive COVID-19 cases (835 Florida residents and 8 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.

There are currently 10,760 positive cases in Florida residents and 351 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

Friday, April 3

Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office To Begin Online And Phone Reporting Of Low-Level Crimes

In an effort to limit face to face interactions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s office is implementing web based on-line and telephone reporting for many lower level, non-violent crimes which have already occurred, (i.e. are not in progress at the time you call). Examples range from misdemeanor criminal mischief and petty thefts to scams and lost property. Citizens can now file certain criminal reports directly to our website and click: https://www.sheriff-okaloosa.org/news/submit-an-online-report/ to determine if you can submit your report on line. There is a series of questions to determine if your incident type qualifies. You can also contact 651-7400 and speak to a communications officer who will help you determine if you can go to the website, connect you with a deputy sheriff to take the report over the phone or decide if a deputy needs to respond in person. The new system has been set up so citizens who report on line will be e-mailed a confirmation that the report was received and will be given a reference number for tracking. You may also be contacted if the Sheriff’s Office needs additional information from your initial report. As your on-line report moves through our system, you will be updated with automatically generated emails.

 

DeFuniak Springs Community Feeding Pilot Program Starts April 4

 

On Saturday, April 4, Walton County Emergency Management, in conjunction with the Matrix Community Outreach Center (COC), will host a community feeding pilot program at 4C BBQ in DeFuniak Springs.

 

The food distribution program will be held beginning at 10:00 am in the 4C BBQ parking lot located at 1045 US-331, Suite H in DeFuniak Springs.

 

The food distribution will first come first serve and will consist of fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, water, Gatorade and orange juice.

 

This program is intended to focus on individuals and families below the poverty level, those recently unemployed due to the COVIC-19 outbreak, seniors, and those with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions that limit their mobility.

 

The distribution of the food would be done via a drive-thru system.

 

Recipients would not be allowed to get out of their vehicles. Healthy screenings, use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the six-feet self distancing guideline will be strictly adhered to at all times.

 

The pilot program is being made possible through a partnership between Walton County Emergency Management, the Matrix COC, Farm Share of Florida, the Walton County School District, Patriots Emergency Response Team, Walton County Community Emergency Response Team and 4C BBQ .

The program is being developed in the event a larger need is required. 

 

112 cases in Escambia

As of 3 p.m,, Escambia County has had 112 positive COVID-19 cases. This number is expected to change daily due to the return of results from ongoing testing. 

State survey launched to fight COVID-19

Today, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) announced the launch of a new community action survey, StrongerThanC-19, designed to aid Florida as the state continues to fight the spread of COVID-19.

The StrongerThanC-19 community action survey is free to use and can be accessed by visiting: www.StrongerThanC19.com.

Employee in State Attorney’s Office to self-quarantine

The Office of the State Attorney announced today that an employee of the Pensacola office has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus.  That employee has been sent home and will not return until being medically cleared.

As a result of the positive test, the office has contacted the Florida Department of Health and are following all recommended procedures.  Any employee who has been in close contact with the individual who tested positive will be out of the office for 14 days or until medically cleared.  All areas of the office have been deep cleaned and individual’s work area cordoned off for 72 hours.

The employee who tested positive is a non-courtroom employee and has had little or no contact with any agencies outside the State Attorney’s Office.  This situation will not affect the ability of our office to perform the duties of our office. 

State reports 19 more COVID-19 deaths

Nineteen people have died who tested positive for COVID-19 in Broward, Charlotte, Dade, Highlands, Lee, Monroe, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas and Putnam counties.

Today, as of 10 a.m. Central, there are 9,585 total Florida cases.

While Florida’s testing has increased over the past week, the percent of those testing positive for COVID-19 overall is 10 percent. Of the 13,803 tests performed on April 2, there were 1,505 positive results, or 11 percent.

New Florida cases include:

  • 577 additional positive COVID-19 cases (554 Florida residents and 23 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.
  • There are currently 9,248 positive cases in Florida residents and 337 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

Escambia has 112 positive COVID-19 cases

As of 10:15 a.m. today, Escambia County has had 112 positive COVID-19 cases. This number is expected to change daily due to the return of results from ongoing testing.

No foreclosures, evictions for 45 days

On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-94, suspending mortgage foreclosures and evictions for 45 days.

Medical supply drive today

Chambers of Commerce in the two-county area in conjunction with state Sen. Doug Broxson, Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson, Santa Rosa County Commission Board Chairman, Don Salter, and Escambia County Commission Board Chairman, Commissioner Steven Barry are hosting a medical supply drive from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.

The chambers are asking individuals and businesses, such as construction companies, contractors, nail salons, nonessential medical offices, veterinarians, etc., to donate any supplies not currently being utilized to assist our health-care community in combating Covid-19. 

Local health-care providers have identified their greatest needs as follows: Respirator Masks N95 1860/1860s; Standard Face / Surgical Masks (Loop or Tie-on); Flexible Mini-Tip Flocked Swab-Nasopharyngeal; Full Length Face Shields; and Isolation Gowns. 

Volunteers will accept donations via drive-by, drop-off at PenAir Federal Credit Union, 1495 E. Nine Mile Road, Pensacola, FL 32514; the Blue Wahoos Stadium, 351 W. Cedar St., Pensacola, FL 32502; Grover Ts, 5887 U.S. 90, Milton, FL; and the Navarre Chamber of Commerce, 1804 Prado St.

Escambia beaches to remain closed

The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners voted 4-1 Thursday to extend the public beach closure until further notice. This includes public beach areas, public beach access ways and public beachfront parks. Boat ramps remain open to the public. 

16 more deaths in Florida

Sixteen people have died who tested positive for COVID-19 in Collier, Dade, Duval, Osceola, Palm Beach, Sarasota, St. Lucie and Sumter counties. As of 6 p.m. Thursday, there were 9,008 Florida cases.

While Florida’s testing has increased over the past week, the percent of those testing positive for COVID-19 overall is 11 percent. Of the 9,198 tests performed on April 1, there were 1,199 positive results, or 13 percent.

New Florida cases include:

  • 998 additional positive COVID-19 cases (977 Florida residents and 21 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.
  • There are currently 8,694 positive cases in Florida residents and 314 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

ECAT suspends fares

Escambia County is expected to receive over $10.3 million in federal funding during COVID-19.

Beginning Monday, April 6, ECAT, to support the county’s efforts to address the COVID-19 virus, will temporarily suspend fare collection for passengers of ECAT bus services. In addition, bus passengers will be instructed to enter and exit through the rear doors only and sit behind the accessibility-reserved seating area.

Thursday, April 2

Milton joins Santa Rosa grant program with SBDC

The City of Milton, in partnership with Santa Rosa County and the Florida SBDC at UWF, has joined the Santa Rosa County Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Grant Program. Milton will allocate $60,000 to add to the $100,000 appropriation made by Santa Rosa County.

The city’s funds will be allocated to businesses located within the city. The Florida SBDC at UWF oversees the grant application process. Any eligible for-profit businesses that need assistance in applying for the grant should contact the SBDC. The grant is intended to assist for-profit businesses in the City of Milton and Santa Rosa County, and address their immediate cash flow needs as a result of demonstrated economic injury due to COVID-19.

Applications are available for download at www.santarosaready.com, and submissions will be accepted at 8 a.m. Monday. The deadline to apply is April 13.

Santa Rosa advice on statewide stay-at-home order

The Santa Rosa County public information office issued the following news release to offer guidance on the governor’s edict to stay at home:

“I have spoken with officials in the cities of Milton and Gulf Breeze along with the town of Jay and we are all operating with the guidelines of the governor’s executive order,” County Administrator Dan Schebler said in the news release. “People should only go out of their homes to work if they provide essential services, to obtain necessary items or services and for essential activities including recreation but at all times we must follow the recommendations on social distancing guidelines set by the CDC. During this public health emergency we really need to think about what is necessary. Going to the pharmacy, bank or grocery store is necessary; taking your entire family to a big box store and perusing every aisle to see what might be for sale is not.”
 
What does this mean for residents, businesses and organizations in Santa Rosa County?

The board of county commissioners regular meeting scheduled for April 9 has been canceled and agenda items will be postponed. The Board of County Commissioners will meet on April 23 at 9 a.m. as currently scheduled.

Santa Rosa County offices remain temporarily closed to the public except by appointment. Several facilities are closed completely including the south end service center and the visitors information center.

Essential county services are being provided via the county web site, email, phone and drop-off. A full list of county office closures with phone numbers and emails for staff is available at www.santarosa.fl.gov/covid19.

Public works staff and county contractor crews will still continue working on projects deemed essential, while following guidelines published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention including but not limited to open construction sites such as the pier and restroom facilities at Navarre Beach, Fidelis Park and more.

Parks are open but playgrounds and restrooms are closed. Residents are asked to use facilities responsibly and not to congregate in groups larger than ten.

Law enforcement will ensure CDC social distancing guidance in public places is being followed. Concerns such as observed large group gatherings, beach access violations, non-essential activities and/or businesses, price gouging, social distancing and other violations can be reported to the Santa Rosa Sheriff's Office online here.

Privately owned businesses are responsible for social distancing measures on their property.

Free Food Giveaway Saturday

Men In Action Outreach, Inc. of Milton is partnering with Feeding the Gulf Coast again to help bring food in a time of need to families of our community on Saturday, April 4 from  7 a.m. - Noon at the Milton Community Center Parking Lot (5629 Byrom St. Milton, FL 32570).

There is no charge to receive food. Food will be given away until all is distributed, or 12 p.m., whichever comes first. Please follow the directional signs and the instructions of volunteers.

If you are sick, please stay home.

This is a drive through event only, walk-ups are not allowed.

Everyone must be in a vehicle. Please empty adequate space in your trunk or bed of your truck before you arrive.

Volunteers will not move any items in your vehicles to create space. You may place empty boxes in your vehicle to designate where you would like food to be placed.

Please limit the number of people in each car to one person per family. Cars with too many occupants may be asked to come back with fewer. This is to protect our volunteers. Stay in your vehicles at all times

Keep your vehicle's windows rolled up at all times

For the safety of our volunteers, we will not open a vehicle door and/or hand items to vehicle occupants.

Once you have visited each distribution point, or, when your vehicle is full, please exit the site immediately and return home.

97 cases in Escambia

As of 11 a.m. today, the total number of Escambia County cases with a COVID-19 diagnosis is 97 individuals, 90 residents and 7 nonresidents.

27 more deaths in Florida, 8,010 cases

Twenty-seven people have died who tested positive for COVID-19 in Broward, Clay, Dade, Duval, Flagler, Hillsborough, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties.

Today, as of 10 a.m. Thursday, there were 8,010 total Florida cases. 

While Florida’s testing has increased over the past week, the percent of those testing positive for COVID-19 overall is 10 percent. Of the 9,198 tests performed on April 1, there were 1,199 positive results, or 13 percent.

New Florida cases include:

237 additional positive COVID-19 cases (222 Florida residents and 15 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.

There are currently 7,717 positive cases in Florida residents and 293 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

Foo Foo Festival canceled

The 7th Annual Foo Foo Festival has been canceled due to the global novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The Foo Foo Festival is scheduled to resume Nov. 4-15, 2021 in Pensacola.

Okaloosa elections office to close

The Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections will close office lobbies on Friday, due to concerns stemming from the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Office staff will be available by phone and information is always available at www.voteokaloosa.gov.

Candidates who need to submit paperwork or consult with the Candidate Coordinator can make an appointment by phone at (850) 689-5600.

Santa Rosa County and Florida SBDC to Offer Small Business Grants

Santa Rosa County, in partnership with the Florida SBDC at UWF, has created the Santa Rosa County Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Grant Program to assist businesses throughout Santa Rosa County impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The grant program will provide up to $2,500 per applicant or business to help offset losses that small businesses may currently be experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications are available for download now at www.santarosaready.com. Submissions will be accepted beginning Apr. 6 at 8 a.m. Note that complete applications will be reviewed in the order they are received and that each applicant OR business is only eligible for one grant. If the applicant or business has received the Northwest Florida Small Business COVID-19 Grant, they will not be eligible for the Santa Rosa County Small Business Recovery COVID-19 Grant.

For details on eligibility and to apply for the grant, go to www.sbdc.uwf.edu and select Request SBDC Consulting and complete the online request form. Remember to identify “SRC COVID-19 Grant” by name in the request form.

Download the Santa Rosa County Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Grant Application at www.santarosaready.com, complete and sign the application, and gather all supporting documents. Email completed and signed applications, as well as supporting documents, all in PDF format to ahaider@uwf.edu starting Apr. 6 at 8 a.m. No application will be accepted prior to the opening date. Application deadline is 5 p.m. April 13. 

For more information about the program or assistance with completing the application, contact the Florida SBDC at UWF at 850-586-7802 or ahaider@uwf.edu.

Wednesday, April 1

14 more deaths in Florida

From the state Department of Health:

Fourteen people have died who tested positive for COVID-19 in Broward, Dade, Lee, Manatee and Palm Beach counties.

Today, as of 5 p.m. Central, there were 7,773 total Florida cases.

While Florida’s testing has increased over the past week, the percent of those testing positive for COVID-19 overall is 11 percent. Of the 8,853 tests performed on March 31, there were 1,062 positive results, or 12 percent.

New Florida cases include:

  • 819 additional positive COVID-19 cases (802 Florida residents and 17 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.
  • There are currently 7,495 positive cases in Florida residents and 278 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

Who is essential?

After Gov. Ron DeSantis issued his stay-at-home order, there was concern about who is and isn’t considered essential. The Santa Rosa County Public Information Office provided this link:

List of businesses and workers are considered essential.

Santa Rosa Medical Center bans nonessential visitors

From the Santa Rosa County Public Information Office:

Santa Rosa Medical Center has restricted all nonessential visitors at Santa Rosa Medical Center and Pace ER and asks that friends and family communicate with patients by mobile device, phone, FaceTime or Skype.

Patients admitted can be reached directly by calling 626-5+ their room number.

Eight more deaths in Florida

From the state Department of Health:

Eight people have died who tested positive for COVID-19 in Dade, Lee, Manatee, Palm Beach and Sarasota counties.

As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, there were 6,741 total Florida cases. 

While Florida’s testing has increased over the past week, the percent of those testing positive for COVID-19 overall is 11 percent. Of the 7,474 tests performed on March 30, there were 1,006 positive results, or 13 percent.

New Florida cases include:

  • 403 additional positive COVID-19 cases (394 Florida residents and 9 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.
  • There are currently 6,490 positive cases in Florida residents and 251 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

Tuesday, March 31

Baptist Health Care offers online screening

  • Baptist Health Care now offers online assessment screenings for COVID-19 to determine if further diagnostic testing is needed.  Anyone who is concerned about a possible exposure to COVID-19 or is exhibiting symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath can complete an initial online assessment screening using a smartphone, tablet or computer.
  • The assessment screening begins at eBaptistHealthCare.org. The screening can also be accessed by texting “Screen” to 850.318.3080. Once the online screening is completed, options for further preventative measures or screenings, if indicated, are offered. Those whose assessment indicates the need for further testing will receive a phone call from a Baptist Health Care team member who will schedule an appointment.
  • The online assessment screening is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Blanchard, Bruno justice buildings have limited access 

The MC Blanchard and Theodore Bruno Juvenile Justice buildings in Escambia County remain open but have limited public access. The Clerk’s office will continue to process the following emergency court services:

  • Petitions for Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Repeat Violence, Sexual Violence or Stalking Injunctions
  • Baker Act petitions
  • Marchman Act petitions
  • Vulnerable Adult petitions
  • Adult Protective Services petitions
  • Emergency guardianship appointment
  • Family Law and Dependency cases in which the imminent safety of children is at issue
  • To make payments and access other services, please visit our website at escambiaclerk.com

88 cases in Escambia

As of 11 a.m. CT today, the total number of Escambia County cases with a COVID-19 diagnosis is 88 individuals: 81 residents and 7 non-residents.

Greater Pensacola Chamber Announces “Virtual” Baby Shower for Military Moms

The Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce Department of Military Affairs and Department of External Affairs will be hosting a Virtual Baby Shower/“Shower in a Box" for military moms in the Escambia and Santa Rosa County area in partnership with the leaders of NAS Pensacola Spouses Network.

Due to the current events of COVID-19 many of these mommies are not able to fly back to their home states for their previously scheduled baby showers with family and friends. 

A "Shower in a Box" includes:

- Gifts for mommy and baby

- Essential items for mommy and baby (diapers, wipes, etc)

- Opportunity for a virtual baby shower with family and friends complete with a live video link and electronic invitations so you may open the box with their family

The box will be delivered to each mother for their enjoyment by designated leaders of NAS Pensacola Spouses.

The registry is now open through June 15th, and there is an option to give monetary gifts as well. 

Registry: babylist.com/military-mommies-baby

Brownsville testing site closed to severe weather

The drive-through and walk-up COVID-19 testing site at Brownsville Community Center, located at 3200 W. De Soto St. will be closed today due to severe weather. For more information about additional testing sites, visit myescambia.com/covid19.

Brownsville offers walkup COVID-19 testing 

Brownsville Community Center will offer walk-up COVID-19 testing in addition to drive-through testing. The service began Monday. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, please call 850-746-2684 to be prescreened over the phone before visiting the walk-up testing site. Tell the phone representative you plan on visiting the WALK-UP site.

Escambia students out of school until May 1

In accordance with a recommendation by Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran, Superintendent Malcolm Thomas has announced that all Escambia County students will remain out of school through Friday, May 1.  

In a news release, Thomas stated, “The main objective is to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 to our community, while also delivering the district’s Instructional Continuity Plan to students and parents during this time of social distancing.”

Hours of operation for the district from now through May 1, 2020, will be 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Employees will continue to follow their work schedule as already defined by their immediate supervisor. 

As of 6 p.m. Monday, there are 5,704 total Florida cases

The state Department of Health said eight people have died who tested positive for COVID-19 in Broward, Citrus, Clay, Dade, Duval, Osceola and Palm Beach counties.

New Florida cases include:

  • 231 additional positive COVID-19 cases (213 Florida residents and 18 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.
  • There are currently 5,489 positive cases in Florida residents and 215 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

Monday, March 30

Webinar to discuss emergency loans

Santa Rosa Economic Development and the SBDC at UWF will host a webinar on Thurs., Apr. 2 at 3 p.m., Central Time, to answer questions concerning the Florida Emergency Bridge Loan floridadisasterloan.org and the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance.  
Send questions ahead of the webinar to ESF18@santarosa.fl.gov.
To sign up, send contact information to ESF18@santarosa.fl.gov and look for instructions to login.

Winn-Dixie has special hours for first responders, health-care workers, others

Winn-Dixie issued the following news release:

Our associates, first responders and healthcare providers are working extra-long hours to take care of our communities and we want to do our part to take care of them,

Beginning March 30, our stores will remain open from 8 to 9 p.m. every Monday and Tuesday to allow these community heroes the opportunity to stock up on fresh food and essential items. We request that our customers be respectful of this time devoted to our frontline warriors.

As a reminder, we have dedicated the opening hour of our stores Monday through Friday for seniors and high-risk customers. 

Destin to have special meeting Wednesday

The Destin City Council will host a special meeting to discuss City procedural measures regarding COVID-19 and items of essential city business. The special meeting is slated for Wednesday, April 1st, at 3 p.m. and will take place at the Destin City Hall Annex Council Chambers, located at 4100 Indian Bayou Trail.

Citizens are encouraged to attend the meeting virtually by watching the live stream at www.youtube.com/cityofdestin

Santa Rosa opens dedicated call line

The Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County has established a dedicated call line to respond to residents' questions and concerns about COVID-19 in Santa Rosa County. Residents may call 850-564-2307 to have their questions answered 24 hours a day.

Questions may also be directed to the State's COVID-19 call line at 1-866-779-6121, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or email COVID-19@flhealth.gov.

Escambia’s Regional Roundup canceled

The Regional Roundup scheduled for Saturday, April 25 at Pensacola High School has been canceled.  

For more information about Regional Roundup events or proper disposal of waste, contact the Escambia County Waste Services Department at 850-937-2160 or wasteservices@myescambia.com

COVID-19 claims another Okaloosa life

Today, as of 10 a.m. Central, there are 5,473 total Florida cases, the state health department reports.

Three people have died who tested positive for COVID-19 in DeSoto, Okaloosa and Palm Beach counties.

New Florida cases include:

  • 523 additional positive COVID-19 cases (508 Florida residents and 15 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.
  • There are currently 5,276 positive cases in Florida residents and 197 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

Escambia cases at 42

As of 11 a.m., Escambia County has had 42 positive COVID-19 cases. This number is expected to change daily due to the return of results from ongoing testing, county officials said.

Testing site coming to Cantonment

Escambia County, Community Health Northwest Florida and Ascension Sacred Heart have partnered to open a drive-through COVID-19 testing site at Community Health Pediatrics located at 470 South Highway 29, Unit B, in Cantonment on Tuesday, March 31. 

IMPORTANT: All patients are required to be prescreened before arriving at the drive-through testing center by calling the Ascension Sacred Heart COVID-19 Pre-Screening Call Center at 850-746-2684.

Gulf Power to cut bills 40 percent

Beginning May 1, Gulf Power plans to issue a one-time decrease of approximately 40% for the typical residential customer bill as a result of lower fuel costs.

“At Gulf Power, we understand how critical it is – particularly at a time like now – for you to have the reliable service that you count on, each and every day. We also understand that, at this moment, savings on your bill can be especially valuable,” Gulf Power President Marlene Santos said in a news release. “While traditionally these types of savings are spread out, we know that many people in our communities are struggling right now and every penny counts. We want to do what we can to keep as much money as possible in our customers’ pockets, and we believe this is the best way to provide customers with much-needed money as we all navigate through this difficult and unsettling time together.”

Another Santa Rosa death as state cases reach 5,000

From the state Department of Health:

As of 6 p.m. Sunday, there were 4,950 total Florida cases.

Four people have died who tested positive for COVID-19 in Collier, Palm Beach, Pinellas and Santa Rosa counties.

New Florida cases include:

704 additional positive COVID-19 cases (691 Florida residents and 13 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.

There are currently 4,768 positive cases in Florida residents and 182 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

Sunday, March 29

208 more cases in Florida, department of health says

Today, as of 10 a.m. Central, there are 4,246 total Florida cases. 

New Florida cases include:

208 additional positive COVID-19 cases (200 Florida residents and 8 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.

There are currently 4,077 positive cases in Florida residents and 169 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

Saturday, March 28

28 positive cases in Escambia

As of 9 a.m., Escambia County has had 28 positive COVID-19 cases. This number is expected to change daily due to the return of results from ongoing testing.

Eight more deaths in Florida; 565 more positive cases

Today, as of 10 a.m. Central, there are 3,763 total Florida cases.

Eight people have died who tested positive for COVID-19 in Broward, Dade, Lee, Pasco, Pinellas and Volusia counties.

New Florida cases include:

565 additional positive COVID-19 cases (554 Florida residents and 11 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.

There are currently 3,608 positive cases in Florida residents and 155 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

Baptist treating five COVID-19 cases

Baptist Health Care issued the following news release this morning:

We have had a total of six inpatients. As of 11 a.m. today, we have three COVID-19 positive patients in our care at Gulf Breeze Hospital and two COVID-19 positive patients in our care at Baptist Hospital. We are following all CDC protocols to ensure the safety of our patients and team members.

• As of 7 a.m. today, we have collected 316 samples outside of our hospitals. Of these samples taken, 119 have resulted negative; 6 have resulted positive; and 191 results are pending. 

An update from Feeding the Gulf Coast

As our communities take measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, Feeding the Gulf Coast is:

  • Seeing a more than 550% increase in people seeking information about food assistance. 
  • Feeding 3,000 children per day who miss meals due to school closures.
  • Distributing emergency food boxes to families in need, including vulnerable populations at a heightened risk of complications due to the virus.
  • Helping eligible households apply for benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicare Savings Plan by phone, which eliminates the need for in-person visits to public aid offices. This is a valuable service to prevent hunger and provide peace of mind.

To make a simple, online donation, visit this link or give us a call at 888-704-3663 (FOOD). 

For more information about our COVID-19 Hunger Relief efforts or to locate the distribution point nearest you, visit:  https://www.feedingthegulfcoast.org/learn-more/covid-19-response.

Friday, March 27

Alzheimer’s support group for COVID-19

The Alzheimer’s Association this week debuted its new dial-in support groups, offering caregivers the opportunity to receive the support and information they need without leaving home.

The 24/7 Helpline is (800) 272-3900.

Food giveaway Saturday in Milton

Men In Action Outreach Inc. of Milton is partnering with Feeding the Gulf Coast Inc. and the City of Milton to help bring food in a time of need to families of our community.

The event is 8 a.m. Saturday at the Milton Community Center North Parking Lot (5629 Byrom St. Milton, FL 32570).  This parking lot is located north of the Community Center. The driveway is located north of the Milton Skate Park.

Food will be given away until all is distributed. 

Special rules:

-- IF YOU ARE SICK, PLEASE STAY HOME

-- THIS IS A DRIVE-THROUGH EVENT ONLY. Walk-ups are NOT allowed. Everyone must be in a vehicle.

20 cases in Escambia County

As of 9 a.m., Escambia County has 20 positive COVID-19 cases. This number is expected to change daily due to the return of results from ongoing testing. For the most up-to-date information regarding confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida, visit the COVID-19 dashboard. The site is currently updated twice daily.

Court proceedings suspended

All grand jury proceedings, jury selection proceedings, and criminal and civil jury trials are suspended through April 17 by order of the Supreme Court of Florida.

Escambia Health Department still serving the public

The Florida Department of Health in Escambia County is limiting public access to the Fairfield facility as a method of protecting the health of our clients and staff.

Services are still being offered at this time, and clients should call for appointments or potential telehealth options before coming into the facility located at 1295 West Fairfield, in Pensacola. The public entrances will open at 7:30 a.m. weekdays.

Baptist opens second screening site

Baptist announced a second COVID-19 screening center will open today in south Santa Rosa County to evaluate people with respiratory illness and COVID-19 symptoms. All individuals with respiratory symptoms – such as cough, fever and shortness of breath – can call 850.434.4080 to determine if they need an appointment with the screening center. An appointment is required to visit this center.

Two COVID-19 cases at Gulf Breeze Hospital

Baptist Health Care issued the following news release:

“We have two presumptive positive patients in our care at Gulf Breeze Hospital and one presumptive positive patient in our care at Baptist hospital. We are following all CDC protocols to ensure the safety of our patients and team members.”

129 more cases in state, additional death

From the state Department of Health

As of 5 p.m. Central on Thursday there are 2,484 total Florida cases.

One person has died who tested positive for COVID-19 in Highlands County.

New Florida cases include:

  • 129 additional positive COVID-19 cases (124 Florida residents and 5 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.
  • There are currently 2,352 positive cases in Florida residents and 125 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

Thursday, March 26

Escambia tax deadline is April 15

Scott Lunsford, Escambia County Tax Collector announces the deadline for citizens and businesses to pay property taxes has been extended to April 15.

Many payment options are available:

  • online by midnight CDT, April 15, at EscambiaTaxCollector.com
  • mailed with an April 15, 2020 postmark
  • left by midnight CDT, April 15 in a 24-hour drop box, currently available at Downtown, Marcus Pointe and Molino locations
  • by joining the phone queue at EscambiaTaxCollector.com by close of business April 15.

Medical supply drive April 3

Chambers of Commerce in the two-county area in conjunction with state Sen. Doug Broxson, Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson, Santa Rosa County Commission Board Chairman, Don Salter, and Escambia County Commission Board Chairman, Commissioner Steven Barry are hosting a medical supply drive on Friday, April 3, 2020 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The chambers are asking individuals and businesses, such as construction companies, contractors, nail salons, nonessential medical offices, veterinarians, etc., to donate any supplies not currently being utilized to assist our health-care community in combating Covid-19. 

Local health-care providers have identified their greatest needs as follows: Respirator Masks N95 1860/1860s; Standard Face / Surgical Masks (Loop or Tie-on); Flexible Mini-Tip Flocked Swab-Nasopharyngeal; Full Length Face Shields; and Isolation Gowns. 

Volunteers will accept donations via drive-by, drop-off at PenAir Federal Credit Union, 1495 E. Nine Mile Road, Pensacola, FL 32514; the Blue Wahoos Stadium, 351 W. Cedar St., Pensacola, FL 32502; Grover Ts, 5887 U.S. 90, Milton, FL; and the Navarre Chamber of Commerce, 1804 Prado St.

CareerSource Escarosa Shares Job Listings

CareerSource Escarosa is updating their site and social media with local employers who are hiring now. For a complete list, visit: https://careersourceescarosa.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Career-Source-Escarosa-Hiring-in-our-Community-2020.pdf

Escambia County School District Adds More Free Meal Sites

Starting March 30, Escambia County School District will have more free meal sites as part of the Summer BreakSpot program. These sites provide one breakfast and lunch togo per child under 18. To find a site near you, visit https://summerbreakspot.freshfromflorida.com/  

Escambia County School District Postponing VPK Registration

Escambia County School District’s Pre-Kindergarten registration start date has been postponed. Families with children who will be 4 by September 1, 2020, should follow the Escambia County School District Pre-K Facebook page for updates.

ECSD VPK registration for the 2020 - 2021 school year will not begin on March 30, as previously announced. The new registration start date is TBD.

Families can still start the process online.

Step 1: Obtain a VPK Certificate of Eligibility (COE) at familyservices.floridaearlylearning.com

Contact: Kim Edmonds Assistant Director, Title I, Escambia County School District, 2005 N. 6th Avenue, Pensacola, FL 32503Office: 850-595-6915 ext. 254, kedmonds@ecsdfl.us 

UWF Students Can Convert Courses to Pass/Fail Grades

The University of West Florida will make a temporary modification to its grading policy for the Spring 2020 semester. All undergraduate and graduate students will have the option to convert courses to satisfactory (S) or unsatisfactory (U) grading, otherwise referred to as Pass/Fail. 

Students can make the decision on a course-by-course basis and there is no limit on the number of courses students can convert to S/U grading for this semester. Students must complete the Grade Mode Change Request form by Friday, May 1, 2020. The form can be submitted by students beginning on Friday, April 3, 2020. 

Before making this decision, students must consult with their academic advisor, department chairperson, faculty advisor, or financial aid counselor to discuss available options. For more information on COVID-19, visit uwf.edu/coronavirus.

More tests ordered; travel ban in effect

From the state Department of Health

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that the state ordered an additional 2,500 test kits to test for COVID-19. These additional test kits will enable the Department of Health, working with Florida health care providers, to test up to an additional 625,000 individuals. The governor also suspended nonessential in-state and all out-of-state travel for state employees for 30 days.

Wednesday, March 25

Another death from COVID-19

The state department of health issued the following news release:

Today, as of 5 p.m. Central, there are 1,977 total Florida cases.

One person has died who tested positive for COVID-19 in Citrus County.

New Florida cases include:

-- 295 additional positive COVID-19 cases (284 Florida residents and 11 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.

-- There are currently 1,867 positive cases in Florida residents and 110 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

President Trump approves disaster declaration for Florida

FEMA announced that federal emergency aid has been made available for the state of Florida to supplement the state, tribes and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by COVID-19.

“The president's action makes federal funding available for Crisis Counseling for affected individuals in all areas of the state of Florida,” FEMA said in a news release.

Federal funding is also available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures.

Santa Rosa WIC reduces hours

The Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County’s WIC office has begun serving most of its clients by phone or through "drive-up" service.

The WIC location in Milton is also temporarily suspending its late clinic on Thursday evenings and moving to a 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. schedule for that day. The Office in Midway is open Monday through Wednesday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  

All services will be offered by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, clients may call 850-983-5250.

Four new cases in Escambia County

The Florida Department of Health in Escambia County (FDOH-Escambia) has received notification of four (4) new positive cases of COVID-19 in Escambia County residents since 11 a.m. CT on Tuesday, March 24. The additional cases bring the county total to 14.

There are seven cases in Santa Rosa County, including one death. Meanwhile, in Okaloosa, there are 16 cases in the county.

State Agencies Partner to Keep Delivering Meals to Elderly 

Today, 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 and workers in the restaurant business to be matched with the needs of the elderly and meal delivery services. 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. For more information about the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, visit www.elderaffairs.org.

Santa Rosa commission mulls remote meetings

The Santa Rosa Board of County Commissioners will hold a commission regular meeting in the Administrative Complex, 6495 Caroline St. in Milton, on Thurs., Mar. 26 at 9 a.m. 

See the interactive agenda with backup supporting documents. This meeting will be streamed live and archived online.

The Board of County Commissioners in the future may meet utilizing communication technology with or without a physical quorum present. Seating is limited due to CDC recommendations.

Additionally, a public input form is available for input/comment on individual agenda items or to bring forward issues to be heard at public forum. The single meeting format (all business completed at regular meetings on Thursdays) will be continued through April. 

Tuesday, March 24

Escambia health department limiting access

The Florida Department of Health-Escambia is limiting public access to the Fairfield facility as a method of protecting the health of their clients and staff. Services will continue to be available for persons with appointments (or receiving the service). A parent or guardian may accompany a minor child if the child is receiving the service.

10 cases in Escambia County

As of 1 p.m., March 24 Escambia County has 10 positive COVID-19 cases. This number is expected to change daily due to the return of results from ongoing testing. For the most up-to-date information regarding confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida, visit the COVID-19 dashboard. The site is currently updated twice daily.

State of emergency in Okaloosa County starting Wednesday

The Board of County Commissioners of Okaloosa County, has declared a state of emergency effective March 25, 2020 through April 30, 2020.

The county closes all Gulf front beaches within its jurisdictional limits. (Exception: individuals with a Commercial Saltwater Products License with a Restricted Species endorsement from the State of Florida for Pompano fishing.)

The county strongly encourages:

  • Closure of all private community centers, meeting rooms and other places of gathering;
  • All pharmacies and grocery stores within the county to reserve a two-hour window, preferably upon opening, for those individuals over 60 years of age; and
  • The lodging industry to work with our visitors in offering refunds and rescheduling of trips. 

UWF summer courses will be online

The Office of the Registrar is changing all Summer 2020 sections to online. You will be able to view these changes in Classmate. This is the link to the Confluence page that explains how to view your schedule through the Classmate app: https://confluence.uwf.edu/x/BBq8.

Florida update: Another death

Today, as of 10 a.m. Central, there are 1,412 total Florida cases.

One person has died who tested positive for COVID-19 in St. Johns County.

New Florida cases include:

185 additional positive COVID-19 cases (183 Florida residents and 2 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.

There are currently 1,330 positive cases in Florida residents and 82 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

BRACE seeks volunteers

Be Ready Alliance Coordinating for Emergencies, as Escambia County’s lead organization for disaster volunteers and donations, urges residents willing to volunteer for the COVID-19 and future disasters are urged to register for volunteer service by visiting the BRACE website and clicking the Volunteer Connect button available through this link: bereadyalliance.org

Updates from Pensacola State College

PSC is transitioning face-to-face classes, including most labs and clinicals, to an online format when classes resume on Monday, March 30. Pensacola State College campuses, centers, and buildings are closed to PSC students through Sunday, March 29.

PSC campuses and buildings are closed to the general public through May 6, which includes the pool, theater, art gallery, planetarium, testing center, gymnasium, dental clinic, library, and fitness centers. Additionally, all PSC events have been cancelled through May 6.

FAQs are available on the PSC website at Pensacolastate.edu/Covid19.

Tallahassee update

The state Department of Health issued the following news release:

Within the next 48 hours, the Division of Emergency Management and Department of Health will be sending out the following Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to facilities throughout the state:

  • 59,419 N95 Masks
  • 141,502 Procedure Masks
  • 26,951 Face shields
  • 21,976 Gowns
  • 78,255 Gloves

FDEM and FDOH have ordered a total of 8.2 million N95 masks and 3 million surgical masks.

Baptist bans visitors

Effective today, a No Visitation policy with limited-entry doors will be activated at Baptist Hospital, Gulf Breeze Hospital and Jay Hospital. Visitor exceptions will be made for end of life and critical caregivers.

Three more deaths in Florida; 56 more cases

The state Department of Health issued the following update this morning:

Three people have died who tested positive for COVID-19 in Clay, Duval and Palm Beach counties.

New Florida cases include:

56 additional positive COVID-19 cases (51 Florida residents and 5 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.

There are currently 1,147 positive cases in Florida residents and 80 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

Monday, March 23

ECUA closes walk-in center

The walk-in area of ECUA’s Customer Service Center located at Ellyson Industrial Park will close for all client walk-in assistance and in-person appointments until further notice. Customers may reach our Customer Service Center by calling 850-476-0480 or by emailing us at customer.service@ecua.fl.gov

Santa Rosa shelter needs fosters

The shelter is seeking 100 “on-call” emergency fosters. Adoption fees have been reduced to $10 for cats and $25 for dogs through the end of March. To make donations during this critical time, visit www.santarosa.fl.gov/animals.

Another Florida death

Today, as of 10 a.m. Central, there are 1,171 total Florida cases. One person has died who tested positive for COVID-19 in Palm Beach County. New Florida cases include: 164 additional positive COVID-19 cases (159 Florida residents and 5 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health. There are currently 1,096 positive cases in Florida residents and 75 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

Pensacola shuts off drinking fountains, splash pad

The City of Pensacola has turned off  all drinking fountains at city parks. The city's splash pad at Plaza de Luna is closed until further notice.

Baptist opens Screening Center

Baptist Health Care now offers a Screening Center to evaluate people with respiratory illness and COVID-19 symptoms. All individuals with respiratory symptoms – such as cough, fever and shortness of breath – can set up an appointment with the Screening Center. They should contact their Baptist Medical Group – Primary Care provider office. An appointment is required to visit this Center. Additional information on COVID-19 is available at eBaptistHealthCare.org. 

Fort Walton Beach Closes Public Restrooms

CareerSource EscaRosa Closed to the Public

CareerSource EscaRosa has closed it's office, but is still available by phone. Call 850-607-8750 to reach staff.

City of Destin Closes City Hall and Public Services Annex

Municipal services will still be available by phone: City Hall (837-4242), the City Hall Annex (654-1119) and Public Services Complex (837-6869)  Limited in-person meetings are available at the discretion of City staff and by appointment only.

The City has suspended all activities at the following facilities: Destin Community Center, Morgan Sports Center, Buck Destin Senior Center, and Destin Library. 

Florida State Parks Closed

Sunday, March 22

Santa Rosa adjusts services at Gulf Breeze center

From the Santa Rosa County public information office:

Veterans Services will continue to provide services at the South Service Center, 5841 Gulf Breeze Parkway in Gulf Breeze. Clients may drop off paperwork and request a call or appointment as necessary. All other offices at this location are closed until further notice.

All restrooms at county parks are closed until further notice.

View community event cancellations and postponements here.

Escambia County to close offices

Here is an update on the status of county departments:

Animal Services, 200 W. Fairfield Drive – By Appointment Only

Animal Services will continue to handle emergencies and non-contact calls.

Available by phone at 850-595-3076 or email at animalshelter@myescambia.com.

Board of County Commissioners, County Attorney and County Administration, 221 Palafox Place – Closed to Public

Community Centers are closed for all public programming.

Community Redevelopment Agency, Closed to Public

Development Services, Closed to Public

Engineering and Construction, Closed to Public

The Escambia County Area Transit, 1515 W. Fairfield Drive – Customer Service to remain Open

ECAT administrative offices and lobby will be closed to the public beginning Monday. ECAT Rosa L. Parks Transit Complex and customer service will remain open and will adhere to the 6-feet social distancing policy. Bus tickets are also available for purchase online at www.GoECAT.com.

Extension Escambia County, 3740 Stefani Road, Cantonment – By Appointment Only

UF/IFAS Extension is open by appointment only.

ECUA yard debris bag pick up at Extension Services has been suspended until further notice. Recycling and FOG station remain available for use.

4-H Livestock facility in Molino is closed to the general public.

Neighborhood Enterprise Division, Closed to Public

Neighborhood & Human Services, Closed to Public

Parks and Recreation office, Closed to Public

Permitting and Inspections – Building Services, Closed to Public

Purchasing, 213 Palafox Place - Closed to Public

Road Department call center Closed to Public

Transportation and Traffic, Central Office Complex, Closed to Public

Veterans Services, Central Office Complex, Closed to Public

Waste Services, Perdido Landfill 13009 Beulah Road and Oak Grove Convenience Center 745 County Road 99 – OPEN

West Florida Public Libraries, Closed to Public

Escambia County School District students who do not have adequate internet access at home for distance learning will have access to the libraries beginning April 1, 2020.

Florida Department of Health update

Today, as of 11 a.m., there are 830 total Florida cases.

One person has died who tested positive for COVID-19 in Palm Beach County.

New Florida cases include:

  • 67 additional positive COVID-19 cases (62 Florida residents and 5 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.
  • There are currently 768 positive cases in Florida residents and 62 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

Saturday, March 21 

Pensacola Chamber Announces Save Florida Business Initiative

The Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) and DigiPro Media have partnered together to announce the Save Florida Business Initiative to help businesses affected by the pandemic.

The Save Florida Business Initiative will connect consumers in Escambia and Santa Rosa County to area businesses through the savefloridabusiness.com website where consumers can be connected to businesses participating in the program.

To participate, any Escambia or Santa Rosa County business must offer a $75 Gift Card Bond that has a retail value of $100. The purchase of the Gift Card Bond incentivizes consumers since they earn $25 for every $75 Gift Card Bond purchased.

Local businesses can register to participate, and consumers can search and connect with registered businesses at www.savefloridabusiness.com. There is no limit to the number of Gift Card bonds an individual can purchase. 

Milton Launches Facebook page for businesses

Ed Spears, director of the office of economic development for the city of Milton, issued the following news release:

The City has established the “City of Milton Business Assistance Group” on Facebook to assist the businesses of the City of Milton and those that do business here.

We know there are difficult times ahead, but we are with you and prepared to assist you in any way possible. Our contact information is in the "About" section on the page. We know you will be getting creative and fighting for your business' future. Post the things you are doing on the page and we will share it on the City's various platforms, including the Bands on the Blackwater and Official City of Milton's pages.

We will be posting official notices from the city, county, state and federal government.

We will also post links to state and federal resources to assist business on the page.  Keep informed. Stay safe!!!

https://www.facebook.com/Miltonbusinessassistance/

From the state Department of Health:

Today, as of 10 a.m. Central, there are 658 total Florida cases.

Two more people have died in COVID-19 related deaths. One in Broward County and one in Duval County. 

New Florida cases include:

95 additional positive COVID-19 cases (93 Florida residents and 2 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.

There are currently 603 positive cases in Florida residents and 55 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

ECAT Modifies Schedules, Limits to 10 Riders

The Escambia County Area Transit (ECAT) will move bus routes to a modified schedule starting on Monday, March 23, 2020.

Hours and Service Modifications: 

Effective on Monday, March 23, 2020 and continuing through April 14, 2020, weekday bus routes will run on a modified schedule. This modified weekday schedule will match the “Holiday Schedule,” which runs every two hours and with the final route trips departing ECAT and Downtown at 6 p.m. The same modified schedule will run on Saturdays and no service on Sundays. The following routes will be temporarily suspended until further notice:

  • Route 41, East Pensacola Heights
  • Route 59A, NAS Pensacola, Airport
  • Route 59X, NAS Pensacola, Downtown, Cordova Mall
  • Route 61, Pensacola Beach
  • Route 64, Beach Jumper
  • UWF Regular Trolley Service 

Routes 1, 2, 31, 32, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48, 50, 51, 52, 55, 57, 58, 60, and 63 will continue to operate  modified schedule service Monday – Saturday. UWF Express Trolley will also continue service Monday - Saturday. 

Capacity Limit 10 Passengers: ECAT will be scaling capacity to increase social distancing and safety for the general public as well as employees. Buses will be limited to transporting 10 people and encourage staggered seating. Additional vehicles will be dispatched to ensure all passengers are picked up and complying with the 10- person limit.

Call ECAT Customer Service: (850) 595-3228 if you need assistance with a specific route or have additional questions. Updated information will also available on www.myescambia.com

Friday, March 20

Meal Pickups for Youth Offered at County Libraries 

Escambia County West Florida Public Libraries are partnering with Feeding the Gulf Coast to provide free curbside pickup meals for youth ages 18 and under (youth must be present to receive meals, food will not be given to adults) at all library branch locations, Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., beginning Monday, March 23.

The meals will include lunch and a snack, and meals will be available on a first come, first served basis.

Meals will be available for pickup only at the locations listed below Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.:

Molino Branch Library, 6450-A Highway 95A, Molino

Pensacola Library, 239 N. Spring St., Pensacola

Tryon Beach Library, 1200 Langley Ave., Pensacola

Genealogy Branch Library, 5740 N. 9th Ave., Pensacola

Southwest Branch Library, 12248 Gulf Beach Highway, Pensacola

Westside Branch Library, 1301 W. Gregory St., Pensacola

Century Branch Library, 7991 N. Century Blvd., Century

Feeding the Gulf Coast To Open Free Meal Spots for Children Monday, March 23

Feeding the Gulf Coast is partnering with local community organizations to offer free meals to children, 18 and under, who are no longer receiving free or reduced lunch due to school closures. The program is supported by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Distribution sites will begin serving on Monday, March 23.

The food bank is looking for volunteers to lend a hand during specific dates and times. Individuals looking to donate or volunteer can do so by visiting www.feedingthegulfcoast.org.

As families are faced with an increased need for food due to school closures, inability to work, or facing self quarantine requirements, the "Find Help" feature available at www.feedingthegulfcoast.org, is the best source of information for families and individuals seeking assistance. Individuals can also call  (888) 704-FOOD. For needs specific to child nutrition, text “FOOD” to 877-877.

For distribution site days/times please visit www.feedingthegulfcoast.org/find-help/find-a-pantry.

Santa Rosa County Suspends Animal Intake

Santa Rosa County Animal Services is suspending intake of animals by owner surrender until further notice. Residents are asked not to pick up stray animals unless they intend to foster them. If a stray is seen, call the animal shelter at (850) 983-4680 to give the animal’s description and location. Strays brought in by residents will not be accepted.

Animal control officers will make every effort to return found animals to their home while in the field to prevent the animals from coming into the shelter. Adoptions, fosters and redemption are by appointment only by calling (850) 983-4680. The animal shelter will limit intake to essential intake only which includes:

  • Bite/quarantine
  • Dangerous animals
  • Sick, injured and neonatal animals with no mother
  • Confiscation for owner and legal related issues

For more information on Santa Rosa County Animal Service programs, visit www.santarosa.fl.gov/animals.

Navarre Beach, pier to close today

Santa Rosa County has enacted an emergency measure to close Navarre Beach and the pier, and to limit restaurants to take out and delivery only, effective as of midnight tonight.

This closure includes all of Navarre Beach from the Santa Rosa County line to the east and Gulf Islands National Seashore border to the west on both the gulf and sound side of Navarre Beach.

Navarre Beach boat ramp open

As of midnight, the Navarre Beach Pier will close, however the boat ramp is open but with limited parking. The Santa Rosa Sheriff's Office will set up a checkpoint near the pier entrance (past the boat ramp entrance) to ensure access is granted only to those who:

  • are residents.
  • are current guests of a hotel.
  • are renting a condominium or home.
  • own a business or are conducting business (service and delivery persons).
  • are met at the checkpoint by a resident or a guest currently staying on the beach.

From the state Department of Health

Today, as of 10 a.m. Central, there are 520 total Florida cases.

One person has died in Broward County who had previously tested positive for COVID-19.  The total in the state stands at 10 deaths.

New Florida cases include:

88 additional positive COVID-19 cases (81 Florida residents and 7 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.

There are currently 474 positive cases in Florida residents and 46 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

Thursday, March 19

Mayor Grover Robinson Orders All City Restaurants to Operate as Take-Out or Delivery

Thursday afternoon, Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson ordered all restaurants in city limits to operate as take-out or delivery only starting Monday, March 23 to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

The order is effective for two weeks and applies to all restaurnats with seating for eight or more people. The order also closes movie theatres and entertainment venues for two weeks. 

Habitat for Humanity Suspends Volunteer Shifts Until Further Notice

With health and safety of the community in mind, Pensacola Habitat for Humanity have suspended all volunteer opportunities at its office, ReStore, and worksites until further notice. 

Okaloosa, Walton County Beaches Closed; Pensacola and Navarre Beach to Remain Open

Gulf Shores to close beaches Friday

The Alabama News Network is reporting the following:

"Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, the city of Gulf Shores has decided to temporarily close its public beaches.

"Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft announced Thursday morning that all public beaches will close as of 7 A.M. Friday with a tentative reopening date of April 6.

"Gulf Shores is also asking the Baldwin County Commission, Dauphin Island, and Orange Beach to close all Alabama beaches for the same time frame."

62 more positive cases in Florida

The state Department of Health issued the following update:

Today, as of 9 a.m. (Central), there are 390 total Florida cases. 

New Florida cases include:

62 additional positive COVID-19 cases (61 Florida residents and 1 non-Florida resident) reported to the Florida Department of Health.

There are currently 360 positive cases in Florida residents and 30 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

Opening Doors Northwest Florida

Opening Doors Northwest Florida is suspending Client Walk-In and Client Appointment Assistance until further notice, due to the current severity of COVID-19.

The organization is working on the most suitable solution to work remotely with clients and their presenting needs.

Phone lines are being monitored for questions Monday-Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm:  850-439-3009

Santa Rosa: Don't surrender healthy pets

Santa Rosa County Animal Services is asking people to avoid surrendering healthy pets, following guidance provided by the National Animal Care & Control Association to take extra measures to reduce shelter intake to mitigate the short and long-term effects of COVID-19. There is no evidence that dogs or cats can be infected or spread the virus that causes COVID-19. Adoptions, fosters and rescues will continue at the shelter, but owner surrender services will be adjusted.
 
The shelter is asking owners who want to surrender their pets but aren’t facing an immediate crisis to hold off for four weeks and surrender at a later date. For pet owners who need to surrender immediately and have made an appointment, the shelter will accept the pets at the scheduled intake time.
 
SRCAS operates at or near capacity every day and is asking citizens to adopt or foster an animal in the shelter. Adoption fees have been reduced to $10 for cats and $25 for dogs through the end of March to help reduce the number of animals at the shelter. The shelter is also asking for 100 “on-call” emergency fosters who can take home a pet if SRCAS reaches critical capacity. SRCAS will provide vet care and additional supplies while they last. Visit www.santarosa.fl.gov/727/Foster-Program for more information on the foster program.
 
People who can’t adopt or foster may make a donation to SRCAS at www.santarosa.fl.gov/402/Pet-Shelter-Donations. SRCAS hopes to raise funds to bolster outreach efforts, stock fostering supplies and prepare to help families with pets if needed. Critical items can also be purchased from the organization’s Amazon Wish List and shipped directly to the shelter.
 
SRCAS asks that people who find friendly stray pets to consider fostering until the shelter can resume normal operations. Stray finders can take the pet to a vet clinic or SRCAS, 4451 Pine Forest Road in Milton, to check for a microchip, file a found report, create and hang flyers in the vicinity of where the pet was found and hold the pet to give the owner time to locate it. Pet owners are encouraged to make plans for pets, such as stocking up on two extra weeks of pet supplies and identifying a pet sitter, in the event someone in the home falls ill or the pet owner becomes hospitalized. 
 
For information about local impacts of COVID-19 on humans and guidance for staying healthy, visit cdc.gov. For Santa Rosa County specific information, visit www.santarosa.fl.gov/COVID19.

State of emergency in Destin

On Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Gary Jarvis and Deputy City Manager Webb Warren, signed a Declaration of State of Emergency for the City of Destin. This will allow City officials to apply for state and federal aid to assist in our response efforts to address the economic impacts of our community due to COVID-19.

“By doing this we are in a better position to seek additional resources and take the prudent action necessary to ensure the health, safety and welfare of our City,” Jarvis said in a news release. “This will also allow aid to come in during the recovery phase and support our local businesses and taxpayers.”

Wednesday, March 18

City of Fort Walton Beach Cancels Upcoming Meetings

The City of Fort Walton Beach has canceled its City Council Meetings scheduled for March 24, March 31 and April 14, as well as all volunteer board/committee meetings scheduled through April 14. The City will reassess the status of COVID-19 in April to determine when meetings will resume.

Taxes are still due April 1

Scott Lunsford, Escambia County Tax Collector, reminds everyone that 2019 unpaid real estate and tangible property taxes become delinquent April 1. Penalties of 3 percent for real estate taxes and 1 1/2 percent for tangible taxes will be assessed. Over $25.9 million remains unpaid, representing approximately eight and one-half percent of the tax roll. To avoid the penalty, payment must be made by March 31.

Many payment options are available:

  • online by midnight CDT, March 31, at EscambiaTaxCollector.com;
  • mailed with a March postmark;
  • left by midnight CDT, March 31 in a 24-hour drop box available at all locations; or
  • by phone at (850) 438-6500, ext. 3252 by close of business March 31.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, payments for property taxes must be made online at EscambiaTaxCollector.com. If a customer has to pay with cash, he or she must use the drive-thru at the Downtown, Marcus Pointe or Molino locations. At this time, there is no provision of law to extend the statutory delinquency deadline for the payment of real estate and tangible property taxes.

Okaloosa County to host emergency special meeting on COVID-19 Countermeasures

The Okaloosa County board of County Commissioners will have a special meeting March 19 th , 2020 regarding additional protectives measure in Okaloosa county related to the COVID-19 Virus. The meeting will take place at 0830 at 1250 N. Eglin Parkway Shalimar, Fl, 32579. The public is encouraged to watch the meeting via our website, in order to avoid large crowds and the threats thereof at this time. http://okaloosacountyfl.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx

Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office Announces New Efforts To Protect Against COVID-19

OCSO has established new protocols in light of COVID-19 crisis which will remain in effect until further notice.

  • Deputies are patrolling Okaloosa beaches to remind residents and tourists alike to stick to the Governor’s emergency order on social distancing and avoiding more than ten people in a group. The OCSO is seeking voluntary compliance, however Sheriff Larry Ashley says if voluntary compliance is not obtained, beaches will be closed.
  • Beginning Thursday, March 19th at 8 a.m., deputies will begin call-in crime reporting for most low-priority, non-violent/and or misdemeanor crimes that have already occurred - versus in person responses. The normal dispatch lines will be used and calls of that nature forwarded to deputies - or your calls returned by deputies - as soon as possible.
  • The OCSO is limiting access to headquarter and substation lobbies and asking the public to attempt to do business by phone or email whenever possible. Most buildings have an outdoor phone that can be used for routine business as needed.
  • The OCSO is suspending all elective fingerprinting, with the exception of statutorily mandated fingerprinting such as arrestees and sexual offender registrations.

Florida Department of Children and Families Closes Storefronts

While DCF offices are temporarily closed to reduce the spread of guidelines, clients can still access servies online. The ACCESS Self-Service Portal allows clients to apply or reapply for benefits, report changes, upload documents, check the status of a benefit application and benefits. For Floridians that can’t apply online or over the phone, during the office closures, DCF has provided a secure drop box at existing storefront locations and instructions for clients to submit information and applications without human interaction. These drop boxes will be monitored and checked throughout the day to process information timely.

To apply for food assistance (SNAP), cash assistance (TANF) or Medicaid, individuals should go to https://www.myflorida.com/accessflorida/.

Customers are required to complete an interview to receive benefits. Customers should call 850-300-4323 (TTY 1-800-955-8771) to complete an interview telephonically.

Customers can order an EBT card, get information about EBT transactions, or report an EBT card as lost or stolen at https://www.myflorida.com/accessflorida/ or by calling 1-888-356-3281.

Pre-screening a must for drive-through testing at Ascension

All patients are required to be screened before arriving at the drive-through testing center by calling the Ascension Sacred Heart COVID-19 Screening Call Center at (850) 746-2684.  

98 more cases in Florida

The state Department of Health issued the following update:

98 additional positive COVID-19 cases (94 Florida residents and 4 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.

There are currently 289 positive cases in Florida residents and 25 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

Walton County Activates Citizen Information Center Helpline

The Walton County Department of Emergency Management has activated their Citizen Information Center Helpline. You may reach the CIC at 850-892-8392. If you are experiencing symptoms, please contact your primary care physician. If you do not have a primary care physician, you may contact the Walton County Department of Health at 850-401-6453.

Facebook Group Provides Local Takeout and Delivery Options

Following Governor Ron DeSantis's direction of closing bars and limiting restaurant capacity, a Facebook group has been set up by the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce to collect information on local restuarants providing takeout and and delivery options. 

Holley-Navarre Seniors Center Cancels Activities, Lunches Still Provided

The Holley-Navarre Senior Center has canceled all activies until further notice, but lunches from Council on Aging will still be provided at the center at 8476 Gordon Goodin Lane. Volunteers are also available to deliver meals or prescriptions to seniors who are in self-quarentine. Visit the Facebook page for more info.

Baptist curtails visitors, postpones events

Baptist Health Care issued the following news release:

• Baptist Health Care asks that family members and friends not visit loved ones in the hospital or outpatient care areas, but to communicate with them by mobile device, phone, FaceTime or Skype. Exceptions will be made for patients whose loved one is crucial to the delivery of their treatment and care. This caregiver must be well and not exhibiting any signs of illness. Please visit the BHC website at eBaptistHealthCare.org for more details. 

• All Baptist Health Care onsite and offsite education and outreach events scheduled through April have been postponed. This includes Golden Care seminars, Faith Health Network Academy classes and Wellness Wednesday classes. Updates will be posted at Facebook.com/BaptistHealthCare. 

Okaloosa County Declares State of Emergency

The Board of Commissioners has declared a state of emergency in Okaloosa County. The county is following all guidance and Executive Orders issued by the office of Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and the Florida Division of Emergency Management. The county is revoking permits for events on the beach and in parks after March 22 until the end of April and will not issue new permits until further notice.

Water and Sewer office lobbies will be closed after Friday, March 20. The drive thru window, online bill pay, drop off and mail in methods will remain open. They county is also minimizing lobby access in our buildings throughout the county to reduce the potential for contact with infected persons at our transit operations and implementing heightened cleaning measures for public facilities. All workshops are canceled until further notice.

For more updates, visit myokaloosa.com/bcc/covid-19

Tuesday, March 17

Pensacola Museum of Art Closed

Following guidance from University of West Florida and federal officials, the Pensacola Museum of Art is closed ro the public until further notice.

Pensacola, Escambia County order bars, nightclubs to close

Bars and nightclubs in Escambia County and the City of Pensacola must close for 30 days starting at 5 p.m. today, per an executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Restaurants are also encouraged to take the following steps to allow for social distancing and limit potential spread of COVID-19:

-- Limit capacity to 50 percent.

-- Maintain at least 6 feet distance between tables. 

-- Offer pickup and delivery options.

-- Monitor employees for symptoms and encourage them to stay home if they are not feeling well. 

Pensacola Beach 

Escambia County is also following the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to limit groups on the beach to 10 people or fewer, with social distance between groups. Signs will be posted at Pensacola Beach, and the county will be monitoring. 

UWF extends remote learning; commencement postponed

From UWF officials:

Today, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the State University System of Florida directed all Florida universities to conduct the rest of the Spring 2020 semester remotely. 

Although there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on any University of West Florida campuses or locations, these changes follow the general public health principle of limiting the interaction of people within larger groups to diminish disease transmission and protect everyone in our communities. 

We thank all of our students, faculty and staff who have been working with us during this unprecedented, dynamic situation. We understand that implementing these changes with such limited notice will have broad impacts and will be challenging for many of you, and we appreciate your patience and cooperation.

Commencement 
With this change, the traditional in-person Spring 2020 commencement will not be held in May 2020. We understand this is very disappointing to our seniors and we are working with student leaders to discuss creative ideas to ensure our students are celebrated. We plan to honor our students while still keeping our community safe. More details will be provided as soon as possible. 

Opening Doors of Northwest Florida To Pre-Screen Outside

Opening Doors Northwest Florida is open for business as usual except staff is now taking pre-screening outdoors. Clients with fever greater than 100, difficulty breathing or cough if symptoms are severe to contact your healthcare provider. Opening Doors is open Monday-Thursday 8:30-11:30 am, 1:30-3:00 pm at 1020 North New Warrington Road. The Milton location is temporarily closed for appointments. openingdoorsnwfl.org

Escambia to provide school meals after spring break

Escambia County School District’s Food Service Department is planning to begin providing supplemental school meals from March 23 to 27, at the following locations: Bratt Elementary School, Bellview Elementary School, Warrington Middle School, C.A. Weis Elementary School, Booker T. Washington High School, Breakfast and lunch will be available from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Meals will be distributed in a curbside pick-up operation. Food items will be in to-go containers and will consist of ready-to-eat food items that should be consumed when received or should be quickly refrigerated for consumption at a later time.  Meals are available for children and teens ages 18 and under.

Senior Meal Pickup Locations:

Seniors who usually get their meals at Fricker Resource Center can pick up meals at Cobb Resource Center. Seniors who usually get their meals at Gull Point Resource Center can pick up meals at Bayview Senior Center. 

Seniors must call Council on Aging at 432-1475 before noon the day before pickup to reserve their meal.

Here is the latest update from the state department of health:

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis announced he is going to supplement federal Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. The Governor activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Loan Program. Up to $50 million has been allocated for the program.
  • Gov. DeSantis directed the Department of Revenue to provide flexibility on the deadlines of taxes due such as corporate income tax and sales tax to assist businesses that are adversely impacted from COVID-19 mitigation measures.
  • Floridians throughout the state are lending a hand to stop the spread of COVID-19:
    • Members of the Florida House of Representatives have been activated to their National Guard units,
    • The Players Championship donated thousands of pounds of food to Feeding Northeast Florida,
    • Miami-Dade County school administrators are handing out computers and mobile devices, and
    • Comcast agreed to provide free WiFi for the next 60 days to kids who do not have it.
  • The Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars and the Orange County Convention Center have agreed to open their parking lots to stage supplies and locate testing sites.
  • Restaurants throughout the state including Jimmy John’s in Tallahassee and Toasted Restaurant in Orange County are providing children with free lunch throughout the week.
  • Drive-through testing sites are expected to open, throughout the state, in addition to the first proposed state site at Memorial Healthcare System in Broward. So far, sites are being developed in in Myers, Pensacola, West Palm Beach and Tallahassee.
  • The Floridians who were at held at the Dobbins Air Reserve Base are on their way back to Florida; 15 Floridians have elected to stay at the base to care for their family members.

Monday, March 16

Seaside Commercial District Closing Temporarily 

On Monday, Seaside Community Development Corp. (SCDC) announced the closure of Seaside Commercial District, including dozens of retail stores and services, with the intention to save lives. The formal closure of Seaside commercial area will happen Saturday, March 21st at noon. Some merchants may choose to close immediately upon this notice, but Seaside will not mandate closure until Saturday at noon. At that time,  food & beverage merchants may remain open for to-go service only, unless otherwise directed by the state or federal government. Read the full statement here.

61 nasal swabs at Ascension Sacred Heart's drive-through test

"We received more than 500 calls for the screening questionnaire where people are asked if they have had a fever or symptoms of respiratory illness (cough, difficulty breathing.)," hospital spokesman Mike Burke said in an email. "We also asked about their travel history. We did nasal swabs on 61 people who stayed in their cars in the drive-by testing."

The swabs will be processed at a state lab. Results could be available in a week. Burke said.

Escambia to activate Emergency Operations Center

Escambia County will activate its Emergency Operations Center at a level 2 on March 17 at 8 a.m. The county will also declare a local state of emergency.

"We are proactively activating the EOC and declaring a local state of emergency to ensure we have the appropriate resources for this unprecedented event, " Escambia County Emergency Manager Eric Gilmore said. "We encourage the public to follow CDC guidance for social distancing and proper health and hygiene to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Escambia County."

A Level 2 EOC activation is a partial activation that includes essential Emergency Support Functions related to this type of incident for response and recovery.

City of Destin Canceling City Council Meeting And Facility Activities 

The City of Destin canceled today's executive session at 5:30 p.m. and the regular city council meeting slated for 6 p.m. at the Destin City Hall Annex. The City is also suspending activities through Monday, March 30th, 2020, at the following facilities:

  • Destin Community Center
  • Morgan Sports Center
  • Buck Destin Park
  • Destin Library

These facilities will be closed as a proactive measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Destin City Hall will remain open as well as other department facilities. Destin’s beach parks and facilities will also remain open.

Blue Wahoos Cancels High School Baseball Games at Stadium

Following the closure of Florida public schools, all high school baseball games scheduled to be played at Blue Wahoos Stadium in the month of March have been canceled. This includes: 

  • March 16: Escambia vs. Gulf Breeze
  • March 26: Pensacola Catholic vs. Tate
  • March 26: West Florida vs. Pace
  • March 27: Battle of the Bay Consolation Game
  • March 28: Battle of the Bay Title Game

Decisions regarding possible make-up dates for these games will be communicated at a later date.

Escambia County Cancels Events Of 50 Or More People 

In accordance with CDC guidelines, Escambia County is canceling all publically-permitted in-person events that consist of 50 or more people. For a list of canceled events, visit https://myescambia.com/news/news-article/2020/03/16/escambia-county-covid-19-update-2

Santa Rosa changes Precinct 23 location

Santa Rosa County Supervisor of Elections Tappie A. Villane announces an emergency polling location change for the Tues., Mar. 17 Presidential Preference Primary Election. Precinct 23 has been changed from Midway Fire District Station 37 to the Midway Baptist Church, 5471 Gulf Breeze Pkwy. in Gulf Breeze. The elections office was informed on Mon., Mar. 16 that the Midway Fire District Station 37 would not be available as a polling place.On Election Day, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For precinct locations, visit www.votesantarosa.com.For more information or questions on where to vote, contact the Santa Rosa County Elections Office at (850) 983-1900.

State launches COVID-19 dashboard

Today, the Florida Department of Health announced the launch of a new COVID-19 Case Dashboard. This dashboard will be updated twice daily.

As of noon, there are 155 total** Florida cases:

  • This includes 19 additional positive COVID-19 cases (14 Florida residents and 5 non-Florida residents) were reported to the Florida Department of Health.
  • There are currently 137 positive cases in Florida Residents and 18 positive cases in non-Florida residents.

Walton County Commissioners To Hold Emergency Meeting

Walton County Board of County Commissioners will hold an Emergency Meeting on Monday, March 16, 2020 at 2 p.m. to provide the public and the Walton County Board of County Commissioners with updated information regarding the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis.. This meeting will be held at the Walton County Courthouse, in the Commission Boardroom, located at 571 US Highway 90, DeFuniak Springs, FL 32433. 

The latest from Escambia County's Joint Information Center

On Monday, March 16, 2020, Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart is opening the first regional drive-through testing center for COVID-19 Monday, March 16. All patients are required to be screened before arriving at the drive-through testing center by calling the Ascension Sacred Heart COVID-19 Screening Call Center at (850) 746-2684.  The screening call center will open on March 16 at 6 a.m. and will be open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

For the week of March 16, the hours of operation for the drive-through testing center for COVID-19 will be 9 a.m-1 p.m.

Baptist Health Care continues to see patients as scheduled

Baptist Health Care has no presumptive positive or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any of our facilities at this time. Physical isolation areas have been set up in the ERs at all three BHC hospitals (Baptist, Gulf Breeze and Jay) for those who meet CDC criteria for possible COVID-19. The modifications and air handling are constantly monitored to ensure that they meet regulatory requirements.

Baptist asks that visitors who are not feeling well consider other ways of connecting with loved ones who are hospitalized, such as through FaceTime.

Fort Walton Beach Rec Center still a Tuesday voting precinct

The Ft. Walton Beach Recreation Center will remain a polling place for those residing in precincts 22 and 41 for the March 17, 2020, Presidential Preference Primary. Due to concerns over the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the Ft. Walton Beach Recreation Center at 132 Jet Dr NW, Ft. Walton Beach, 32548, will be closed to the non-voting public. Only voters who reside in precincts 22 and 41, as well as poll workers and staff from the Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections office, will be permitted to enter the building. Again, for voters in precincts 22 and 41 in Okaloosa County, your polling place at the Ft. Walton Beach Recreation Center has not changed despite the City of Ft. Walton Beach announcing closures of city facilities. The facility is otherwise closed to the public for recreational use and will resume the same status as other City of Ft. Walton Beach facilities once the polls have closed on March 17, 2020.

How to do business safely with Escambia Tax Collector office

Scott Lunsford, Escambia County Tax Collector, reminds citizens that they can protect their health and the health of others while still doing business with our office. 

Minimize your time in the office

·         Get in line online prior to visiting an office. You will receive text updates on your mobile device with your wait times and can enter the office as you are being called to the window. This will eliminate your wait in a crowded lobby. Visit EscambiaTaxCollector.com and click “Join the Line.”

·         Use the Express Lane service for same day or next day pickup of vehicle/vessel registration renewals. Renew online and pick up in the office or in the drive thru. Use the eCheck option with no additional fees. There is a convenience fee added to your total if you use a credit or debit card.

 

Sunday, March 15

Ascension to offer drive-through testing to those who need it

Area residents experiencing fever, cough and symptoms of respiratory illness will have access to screening and - if needed - drive-through testing for COVID-19 on Monday, March 16, thanks to a service launched by Ascension Medical Group. 

Nasal swab samples will be collected from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and sent to a state-approved laboratory for analysis. 

“We are collaborating closely with the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County to ensure that community members experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested for the virus, while limiting exposure to keep the health and safety of our patients, associates and visitors as top priority,” said Justin Labrato, chief operating officer of Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart.

Residents with symptoms of COVID-19 should call their primary care physician and ask to be screened over the phone. The screening involves answering a series of questions about symptoms, travel history and potential contact with COVID-19 patients. Ascension Medical Group also will have a call center for over-the-phone screenings beginning at 6 a.m. Monday. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, please call 850-746-2684 to be pre-screened over the phone before visiting the drive-through testing site. The phone number will be answered starting at 6 a.m. Monday.

Patients who meet the criteria, which is based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will be directed to Ascension Medical Group’s drive-through testing site, where nurses will collect a nasal swab, with patients staying inside their cars. Patients will be registered and insurance information will be collected for follow-up purposes, but no patients will be turned away and there is no upfront charge for testing. Swab samples are sent to a state lab for processing, which can take up to a week. Then Ascension Medical Group will contact patients with test results. Positive results will be alerted to the Florida Department of Health.

According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild to severe and may appear 2-14 days after being exposed to the virus. Symptoms seen with the infection with COVID-19 are not specific, with cold-like symptoms in mild cases. Symptoms could include a fever, along with cough and  shortness of breath. If someone is elderly or has other medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease, diabetes or cancer, they may get sicker from the virus and develop pneumonia or other lung problems. 

For convenient access to a doctor for urgent care visits without leaving home, patients may use online care from a smartphone or mobile device (laptop or tablet). Ascension Online Care offers visits with a doctor 24/7 from work, travel or home. Use code HOME for a discounted $20 visit. Download the app at www.ascension.org/onlinecare. Available in all 50 states. No insurance required.

39 more cases in Florida; none in Panhandle counties

The Florida Department of Health has announced 39 new positive cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Earlier today, the Florida Department of Health confirmed the death of a 77-year old male in Lee County who had previously tested positive for COVID-19.

City of Fort Walton Beach Temporarily Closes Public Facilities

The City of Fort Walton Beach will close its public facilities and suspend all recreation programming beginning Monday, March 16, until Monday, March 30, pending updates and direction from the Florida Department of Health.  City closures include the recreation center, library and museum. The golf course will remain open at this time. Online tee time information and registration can be found herehttps://www.fwb.org/parksrec/page/online-reservation

Saturday, March 14

Okaloosa County School District To Provide Free Meals to Students 

Okaloosa County Schools will be providing free breakfast and lunch for students starting March 18 and through the week of March 23. Meals will be "grab and go" with breakfast from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and lunch from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at the following sites: 

  • Baker School
  • Laurel Hill School
  • Northwood Elementary
  • Lewis School
  • Wright Elementary

For more information:  https://www.okaloosaschools.com/files/_site/district/2019-nCOV/media-release-food-service-udpate-3-14-2020.pdf

UWF Shifts to Remote Operations

Although there are no presumptive or confirmed cases of COVID-19 at any University of West Florida campuses or locations, UWF business operations will be conducted remotely from 12 a.m. on Sunday, March 15, 2020, to 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, March 29, 2020. Essential personnel are expected to report to work, unless otherwise authorized by their supervisor. All courses will be offered remotely from March 16 until March 30, 2020. For more information, visit uwf.edu/coronavirus

Pensacola State College update

All full-time employees will report to work the week of March 23. Kelly Services staff and work-study students will be permitted to return to work the week of March 23, as well.  Any employee with special circumstances that will prevent them from returning to work should contact their supervisor as soon as possible. All College events have been postponed through the end of April, for example, the Lumberjack Festival that was scheduled for March 28.

"We are asking that PSC students, faculty, and staff frequently check their email, the PSC website, social media, and the local media for further updates from the College."

Department of Education

Yesterday, the Florida Department of Education announced a "strong recommendation" of extending spring break following protocols from the CDC. State testing will also be delayed by a minimum of two weeks. In addition the department advised school districts to cancel all extra curricular activities, develop or perfect instructional continuity plans, and deep clean each school. 
To see recommended changes for each district, click here

Friday, March 13

The Center for Independent Learning of Northwest Florida closed

The center will be closed to the public starting March 16 in an effort to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Staff will be available by phone until the threat has passed. 

Two Santa Rosa precincts change for Tuesday primary

Tappie Villane, supervisor of elections, announced the following Precincts 28 and 37 have been changed from Community Life United Methodist Church to the Tiger Point Community Center, 1370 Tiger Park in Gulf Breeze. On Election Day, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The final day of early voting is 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Visit www.votesantarosa.com to find the nearest early voting location.

Election chiefs in four states: Primary voting is safe

The Okaloosa supervisor of elections issued the following news release on behalf of the secretaries of state in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio: 

"As each of our four states prepare for voters to head to the polls on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, we are working closely with our state health officials to ensure that our poll workers and voters can be confident that voting is safe."

PJC to resume classes March 23

As of today, PJC will resume operations and classes following the spring break on Monday, March 23, 2020.  Should the situation change, we will alert faculty, staff, and students through the PSC Alert system, email, text messages, social media, and the local media.  Any employees, faculty and staff who return from travel to China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea or any other areas affected by COVID-19 to self-isolate and not return to campus for 14 days after their return.

Free 24/7 Bilingual Helpline Open to Provide Emotional Support during COVID-19 Health Crisis

The toll-free helpline connects individuals with specially trained behavioral health counselors who can assist anyone experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety, trauma and grief due to the health crisis. The number to call is 833-848-1762.

Florida Department of Health Escambia County Urges Residents To Protect Themselves From COVID-19

On top of taking necessary precautions such as washing your hands, staying home while sick and disinfecting surfaces, the Department of Health, advises to screen yourself and call a doctor before visiting the doctor's office.

Screening criteria for COVID-19:

  •  Are you over 65 years old with chronic medical conditions and are experiencing symptoms, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath? Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.
  • Have you returned from international travel or been on a cruise within the last 14 days?
  • Have you been around someone diagnosed with COVID-19?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, contact your healthcare provider or your local county health department (CHD). Call, do not visit, your health care provider and tell them about your symptoms and your travel history or exposure to a COVID-19 patient. Offices must take proper steps to avoid further spread of COVID-19 when a concerned patient arrives for a medical evaluation. You should not go to the emergency room if you are only mildly ill. 

March 20 Gallery Night Canceled 

In response to a directive from the City of Pensacola and Escambia County leadership, Gallery Night canceled it's March 20 event.

As an alternative solution, Gallery Night Pensacola is planning to host a Virtual Gallery Night on the same date, showcasing dozens of local artists with their latest creations as well as sharing video performances from several of the dance groups originally scheduled to take part in the 'Dancin' in the Streets’ event on Facebook and Instagram.

Escambia County Establishes COVID-19 Joint Information Center with Partner Organizations

Escambia County has established a Joint Information Center to streamline distribution of public information regarding COVID-19. The JIC is located in the Escambia County Public Safety Building, 6575 N. "W" St. The Emergency Operations Center is not currently activated. 

The JIC is made up of public information officers and representatives from  partner organizations and agencies including local government, law enforcement, hospitals, Florida Department of Health, and more.

Escambia County will disseminate coordinated releases at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, consisting of any updates from all partner agencies related to COVID-19 preventative actions, cancellations, or preparedness activities. Individual organizations will continue to send their own news releases. 

For more information, contact the Office of Communications and Public Relations at cmr@myescambia.com.

Governor DeSantis Activates Emergency Business Damage Assessment Survey for Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Governor Ron DeSantis announced the activation of the Business Damage Assessment survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s local business operations. The survey, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), will evaluate businesses affected by COVID-19 and the impacts the virus has had on the local economy so actions to implement appropriate relief programs can begin. The Business Damage Assessment Survey can be taken online at floridadisaster.biz.

Pensacola Navy League Remembrance Ceremony Postponed

Due to concerns with the coronavirus, the Pensacola Navy League’s Remembrance Ceremony is postponed. A new date and time will be announced soon.  

Ciclovia Pensacola Canceled

The annual open streets event has been canceled following Escambia County and City of Pensacola's announcement that all publicly-permitted events with 500 attendees or more would be canceled starting March 16. 

UF/IFAS Festival of Flowers Canceled 

The annual Spring Festival of Flowers at Pensacola State College Milton Campus has been canceled. All other currently scheduled UF/IFAS Extension Santa Rosa County programs will take place as planned.

Thursday, March 12

Escambia County, City Cancel Publicly-Permitted Events with 500-Plus People

Escambia County and the City of Pensacola are canceling all publicly-permitted events with 500 or more people starting Monday, March 16 in an abundance of caution related to COVID-19.

The action is being taken in response to a recommendation from Gov. Ron DeSantis that municipalities consider limiting or postponing mass gatherings in the state of Florida.  

This only applies to events that are permitted through Escambia County or the City of Pensacola. It does not include schools, churches, or other private events. Event organizers are encouraged to use their discretion and follow the directions of officials from the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine if event cancellations are necessary. 

Troy University to transition all classes to alternative delivery platforms on March 16

Troy University officials announced the transition of all classes to alternative delivery methods effective Monday, March 16. In-person classes are scheduled to resume on Monday, April 6.

In addition to class format changes, the University has also suspended all domestic and international travel through April 6, and, following a directive from the Sun Belt Conference, all intercollegiate athletic events will be suspended indefinitely.

Bands on the Blackwater Canceled

The City of Milton announced that they will suspend the upcoming Spring schedule of the popular Bands on the Blackwater Concert Series, scheduled to begin on March 27, until further notice. 

Escambia County School District Sets Travel Restrictions

The Escambia County School District will take the following measures to restrict students and employees traveling within and outside of our district, and specifically, out-of-state:

  • Effective immediately, all out-of-state travel for both students and staff members is suspended for the remainder of the school year.
  • All student and staff in-state travel is suspended for the next thirty (30) days, at which time, requests may be re-evaluated to determine feasibility of travel within the state of Florida.
  • All student field trips will be suspended for a period of thirty (30) days, and future requests will be evaluated after that time. 

Pensacola Habitat for Humanity Responds to COVID-19

Pensacola Habitat for Humanity announced it is limiting worksites to 15 volunteers per worksite and encouraging all volunteers, homebuyers, and staff to stay home if they are experiencing any symptoms. For volunteers that are planning to volunteer at the office or ReStore, you can contact the offices at 850-434-5456 before arriving for more information.

UWF Restricts Travel

UWF has suspended university-sponsored travel through the summer of 2020. This suspension of student international travel includes athletic programs and events, research, internships, study abroad, exchange and faculty-led programs. All univeristy-sponsored international travel is suspended until further notice, and all domestic travel is prohibited unless approved by the divisional Vice President. For more information and updates, visit uwf.edu/coronavirus. 

Scott Lunsford, Escambia County Tax Collector, reminds citizens that they can protect their health and the health of others while still doing business with our office.

 

Minimize your time in the office

·         Get in line online prior to visiting an office. You will receive text updates on your mobile device with your wait times and can enter the office as you are being called to the window. This will eliminate your wait in a crowded lobby. Visit EscambiaTaxCollector.com and click “Join the Line.”

·         Use the Express Lane service for same day or next day pickup of vehicle/vessel registration renewals. Renew online and pick up in the office or in the drive thru. Use the eCheck option with no additional fees. There is a convenience fee added to your total if you use a credit or debit card.