Escambia County

When Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Wednesday for Florida residents to stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus, it sparked more questions than answers. On Thursday, Escambia County officials held a press conference to explain what it actually means.

Essentially, their conclusion is that nothing has changed.

“Walk, bike, hike, fish, hunt, run, swim. You can go to the bank, go to the pharmacy, vet, or go to the doctor, if “teledoc” is not available,” said Escambia County Commissioner Robert Bender.


As health care workers nationwide scramble to find protective gear to treat COVID-19 patients, a program at the University of West Florida is pitching in.

UWF’s Sea3D Lab in downtown Pensacola is using its 3D printers to produce face gear.

“Specifically, visors that go around the head; one of our manufacturing partners – Jupiter-Bach – is cutting the actual lens that fits onto the shield that we’re 3-D printing,” said Nicole Gislason at UWF’s Haas Business Center.


(Editor's note: This is a developing news story and will be updated this afternoon.)

The University of West Florida announced this morning it is making 3D-printed protective face gear to aid in the battle against COVID-19.

The gear is being manufactured at its Sea3D Additive Manufacturing Laboratory in downtown Pensacola. The guards are scheduled to be delivered Tuesday.

Photo courtesy of Santa Rosa County

For some time, residents have been able to watch local government meetings via live streaming.

Now, because of COVID-19, Escambia County is strongly encouraging electronic “participation” ahead of their next meeting tomorrow (Thurs) afternoon.

This is one example of the changes governmental bodies across the region are making, to keep citizens safe - and engaged - during the current crisis.

Jennie McKeon / WUWF

Destin City Council met for a special meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss and vote on how the council will conduct business during the coronavirus pandemic. 

It’s a conversation many local governments are having amid social distancing practices and the stay-at-home order Gov. Ron DeSantis issued Wednesday. The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday. 

Mayo Clinic

While the fight against the coronavirus is going on in clinics, hospitals and testing sites, it began in the clinical lab.

Feeding the Gulf Coast

Children age 18 and younger who no longer receive free or reduced meals due to school closures in the wake of COVID-19 are getting help from an area food bank.

Normally, the program is a summer feeding program by Feeding the Gulf Coast.

Sponsored by the Florida Department of Agriculture, sites are identified each summer where kids typically are under the age of 18 – libraries, community centers, and low-income housing complexes, among others.

Aubrey Grier is the organization’s community engagement coordinator.


OneBlood, a not-for-profit blood center that serves Florida, has announced plans to begin collecting plasma to be used as a potential treatment option for people with “life-threatening” coronavirus infection.

When the program ramps up, OneBlood will be looking for donations of plasma specifically from individuals who have recovered from the coronavirus, so that it can be transfused to people who are very sick due to the disease.

Dave Dunwoody

Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson is asking residents for a little more time, to help put the brakes on the local coronavirus outbreak.

Robinson, Escambia County Commissioner Lumon May, and other leaders this week met with officials from Baptist, Sacred Heard and West Florida, along with Northwest Florida Community Health and the Florida Department of Health. One topic dealt with the number of patients being checked for coronavirus as of Thursday.

Lynn Friedman / Flickr

With the COVID-19 crisis in full force, the City of Destin is calling on local grocery stores and pharmacies to support senior citizens.

Last week, the city released a letter from City Manager Lance Johnson asking all grocery stores and pharmacies to allow seniors to shop for one hour before opening to the public. 

“The health and safety of our residents is top priority, especially our seniors,” the letter said. 

Florida Division of Emergency Management

Florida’s battle against coronavirus is getting a new supply headquarters downstate, for distribution of needed equipment to help grassroots health care efforts.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and senior administration officials were at the state logistics center in Orlando on Wednesday, to illustrate Florida’s preparation for what’s expected to be an increase in the number of patients with COVID-19.

Jennie McKeon / WUWF

If you’re thinking of heading to Navarre Beach despite its closure — don’t. 

Since Santa Rosa County Commissioners made the decision to close Navarre Beach last Friday, the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office has been monitoring the area, including a checkpoint where all vehicles on Gulf Boulevard must provide a valid reason for driving through. 

“We have four deputies out there 24/7 until we’re relieved,” explained Sgt. Rich Aloy. “Our goal is to make it clear that the beaches are closed.” 

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

It’s been a few days since Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered all restaurants and food establishments in the state to suspend all dine-in service and offer only delivery and take-out.

Locally, restaurants are making the required adjustments, so they can stay open.

At University Town Center, just a mile or so from the WUWF studios, cars in the Chick Fil A drive-through are wrapped around the building, as they usually are in the lunch hour. On this Tuesday, Panda Express and Panera’s also have some drive-through activity.

Jennie McKeon / WUWF

Monday morning was supposed to be back to school for the 30,000 kids living in Santa Rosa County. As schools are closed through April 15 during the coronavirus pandemic, the school district and parents are trying to find ways to not only educate kids, but keep them fed. 

Outside Holley-Navarre Primary school, lunchroom workers and bus drivers were ready with 400 prepared breakfasts and lunches for children 18 and younger as part of the Summer BreakSpot program. Before the pick-up officially opened at 9:30 a.m. there were already about a dozen cars in line. 

Jennie McKeon / WUWF

Santa Rosa County officials on Friday closed Navarre Beach in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. In addition, the county ordered all restaurants to sell food by takeout or delivery. 

It was a reversal of an announcement Thursday afternoon that the beach would remain open.