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Coronavirus: The latest local updates, cancellations, resources, + more

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Major Local Announcements

  • The Lakeland City Commission (LCC) will reconsider a resolution that would require masks/face coverings within Lakeland corporate limits tomorrow at 10 a.m. The mandate, when originally discussed on June 22, never went to a vote. Several surrounding counties have put mask mandates in place in the last few weeks, as Florida’s COVID-19 cases have increased by 277% in 14 days. You can watch the meeting here.
  • Local coffee house and bistro, Black & Brew, made the NY Times this week in an article about face mask policies. Owner, Chris McArthur, required face masks before other businesses in the area did. (New York Times)
  • 235 inmates are in isolated medical quarantine at Polk Correctional Institution in Polk City after one inmate tested positive for COVID-19. Only seven people have been tested in the prison and those in medical quarantine receive temperature checks twice daily and are watched by health services staff(The Ledger)
  • 43. Florida ranked no. 43 on WalletHub’s list of states with the biggest health improvements during COVID-19. This statistic was determined based on several categories, including Death Rate This Week v. Death Rate Last WeekPositive Testing Rate This WeekInfluenza Activity Level, COVID-19 Hospitalization Rate This Week + more. (WalletHub)
  • Gov. DeSantis’ rent moratorium expires today, meaning landlords can start filing evictions beginning tomorrow. There are currently 2,600+ evictions waiting to be processed and with unemployment at an all time high across the state and country, Gov. DeSantis is making $250 million from the CARES Act available to help Floridians in need. The Florida Housing Finance Corporation will oversee all of the funds, which are being split into two funding pools. $120 million will be used for affordable housing and $120 million will be shared amongst FL counties to help those not in affordable housing, but still struggling. (WFLA)
  • On Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health announced 6,093 new cases of coronavirus and 58 additional deaths in Florida. That brings the total number of cases in FL of COVID-19 to 152,434, and the total deaths to 3,505. You can find more updates on the Florida Department of Health dashboard(Fox 35 Orlando)
  • Public records from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) report that manatee deaths have increased by 20% in 2020 due to COVID-19. Reasons for this increase include cold stressboat impacts + other reckless outdoor activities. In order to decrease the amount of manatee deaths, the FWC provides safety tips and information for boaters to follow. (Creative Loafing Tampa Bay)
  • Lead pastors of Grace City Church have tested positive for COVID-19. This diagnosis came after an in-person prayer meeting on June 14, and the staff at the church are being tested, as well. The plan of Sunday in-person services has been pushed to July 12(The Ledger)
  •  The Ledger has reported two restaurants with outbreaksThe Joinery (640 E. Main St.) has closed for a deep clean + employee testing, as a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 last week. The food hall has yet to announce a reopening date. While an employee at Olive Garden (3911 US 98 N.has tested positive for COVID-19, the restaurant has stayed open + sanitized the entirety of the restaurant, and managers have informed other employees and continue to take temperature checks. (The Ledger)
  • new public Facebook page called “Lakeland Business – Operation Face Mask” has been started by Lakelander, Heather Jackson. The purpose of the page is to share which businesses in the city require employees + customers to wear face masks.
  •  The Ledger recently asked USF epidemiologist + public health expert, Dr. Jill Roberts, her thoughts on mask mandates and Polk County’s coronavirus cases. According to Dr. Roberts, the molecular structure of COVID-19 allows the virus to spread + transmit faster and that “A mask policy is the only thing that will keep us from reverting to closing down the economy.” (The Ledger)
  • ICYMI, Florida suspended the drinking of alcohol at bars, due to the rise in COVID-19 casesHere’s how local bars are coping + pivoting during the shutdown. And here’s how you can help.
  • In addition to the coverage we’re providing here and in our daily newsletter, you can also follow us on social media for up-to-the-minute news and announcements concerning the coronavirus. Find us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.
  • As COVID-19 cases surge in Polk County, the ages of those testing positive are dropping. At Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center, of those being diagnosed + treated, elderly patients are no longer in the majority. The Florida Department of Health announced a record daily total of new cases for Polk County, and of the 185 cases, 112 of them involved residents age 40 or youngerSome patients have even been listed as age 0(The Ledger)
  • While the Polk County mask ordinance did not pass, several surrounding counties are now requiring themHillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas counties are requiring people to wear masks inside businesses where social distancing is not possible. Click here to read more about the various fines + possible jail time business owners and customers could face if they don’t follow these protocols.
  • President of Sensocon, Tony Kohl, donated a Theroscan no-touch thermometer to the City of Lakeland. The thermometer will be used to assist with COVID-19 protocols at City Hall. The no-touch infrared thermometer will allow all employees + guests to take their temperature by placing their wrists over the device and results will appear in under a second.
  • The Polk County Government will have about $4 million less in its new 2020-21 budget due to COVID-19. Polk County originally projected receiving $38.3 million in state sales tax revenue, but now projects a 4% decline in sales tax revenue. The county’s budget director, Todd Bond, says the state money will support the projected $447.7 million general fund, which supports many government services throughout the county, including law enforcement, fire protection + land development regulation. Bond will present a full budget proposal on July 14. (The Ledger)
  • Looking to get tested? Check out this round up from Lkld Now. The Polk County Health Department is also using part of the $10M CARES Act fund to expand testingspecifically in areas where less than 2% of the population has been tested. Officials are hopeful these new test sites (in Lakeland, Fort Meade, Haines City, Davenport, Poinciana, Frostproof + Dundee) will open mid-July. The Florida Department of Health has a goal of testing 2% of the population each month – which breaks down to 14,000 tests a month in Polk County. (Lkld Now)
  • How is hurricane preparedness different this year, due to COVID-19? Polk County Emergency Management Director Paul Womble explains that if hurricanes cause evacuations, shelter workers will have to wear masks, stay socially distant, and have their own temperatures checked. Meal packages may also replace traditional buffet-style catering options. (WFLA News Channel 8)
  • The Detroit Tigers may be holding spring training for their team at Tigertown in Lakeland when the MLB season resumes, which could hold up to 60 games beginning on July 24. Another location option for the season reopening was at Comerica Park in Detroit, but was unable to be used due to a restriction of 60 players or less(Detroit Free Press)
  • Publix employees have tested positive for coronavirus at these locations in Lakeland + Winter Haven. Read about the safety precautions the store is taking during the pandemic here(The Ledger)
  • The Joinery (640 E. Main St.), a communal food hall in Downtown Lakeland, has announced that it is requiring guests and team members to wear face masks when inside the building. The Joinery put this rule into place yesterday and has not announced an end date for the requirement. (WFTS Tampa Bay)
  • With fewer people at the beach + in the water because of COVID-19, shark attacks have dropped worldwide. According to Florida Today, there have only been 18 unprovoked shark bites confirmed worldwide, one happened in Duval + the other happened in Brevard. This time last year, Florida had eight bites by mid-June and seven in 2018. Officials are warning people to still keep their guards up if they visit the beach(Click Orlando)
  •  Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state would start cracking down on bars + restaurants not adhering to guidelines limiting the number of people inside establishments. (Creative Loafing Tampa)
  • Polk County Unites has selected 23 local nonprofits to receive part of the $15M in federal CARES Act funds that Polk County officials set aside to help families during COVID-19. Non-profits include Agricultural and Labor Program, Inc., Camp Fire USA, CareerSource Polk, Bartow Catholic Charities, Central Florida Health Care, Winter Haven Church Service Center, Florida Baptist Children’s Homes/One More Child, Lakeland Frostproof Care Center + moreThe amounts each nonprofit received have not been disclosed. (Lkld Now)
  • Lakeland Regional Health has relocated its Drive-Thru Testing Center and Respiratory Care Center to continue providing COVID-19 care to the community. The Drive-Thru Testing Center is testing patients in Parking Lot N13 just north of the Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center Campus, moving from the RP Funding Center. This parking lot is located west of the Family Health Center, off of Morrell Drive and West Lane. The Respiratory Care Center will begin seeing patients at 320 Parkview Placeacross the street from the Main Emergency Department at the Medical Center.
  • FL Gov. Ron DeSantis gave local election officials in all of Florida’s 67 counties the ability to process mail-in ballots earlier than what Florida law requires, due to COVID-19 concerns. Additionally, Gov. DeSantis is asking schools K-12 to serve as polling sites during the August Primary + the November General Election.
  • Nonprofit assisted-living facility Lakeland Hills Center has had an outbreak in COVID-19 cases. Within the 120-bed nursing home, 31 residents + 8 staff members have tested positive for coronavirus and six former residents have died from COVID-19 related causes. This makes Lakeland Hills Center the third elder-care center in Polk County to have 20+ residents test positive and one of five with at least 5 deaths caused by coronavirus. (The Ledger)
  • From St. Pete to the Florida Keys, some FL cities are requiring masks inside businesses for both employees + customers. Currently, in the City of Lakeland, wearing a mask is up to the discretion of local businesses, but it is highly encouraged that you wear a mask if you are in a space that limits your ability to social distance. Visitors coming to City Hall must wear a mask and have their temp taken before entering.
  • Scientists worry that the new garbage caused by the coronavirus (like masks + rubber gloves) could pollute the world’s oceans. To help solve this issue, the Environmental Protection Agency issued guidance last month for people to keep this PPE outside of recycling binsCheck out what goes in the City of Lakeland’s recycling bins here. (Tampa Bay Times)
  • A first in the country – Florida dogs are being trained to sniff out coronavirus. Trainer Jeff Minder (a former survival instructor for the Air Force) is developing a system for his 50 dogs at Top Tier K9’s training facility in North Florida to sniff out coronavirus in areas where people congregate in big groups – like churches + airports. According to Jeff, “There are independent individual odors within that virus that these dogs are finding. We think we know exactly what part of the virus they are finding, but that’s very hard to prove.” (WFLA News Channel 8)
  • The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce is partnering with the Florida Chamber Foundation on their Florida Prosperity Initiative. Currently, FL has nearly 900,000 children living in poverty – which is more than 20% of all of Florida’s population ~18. This number is likely to increase due to job loss caused by to COVID-19. According to Lakeland Chamber President + CEO, Cory Skeates, “With several of our Lakeland area zip codes designated as ‘economically distressed’ and many residents under the age of 18 currently living in poverty, the Chamber has made it a priority to address the many root causes of poverty such as education, housing, and access to employment.”
  • An outbreak of coronavirus cases was reported at Lakeland’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Operations (NOAA) hurricane hunter base, with five employees that had contracted the virus. The employees were last in the facility in the beginning of June + other employees who may have had contact with the positive individuals will now self-quarantine. With hurricane season having started earlier this month, there is no word yet on how this temporary employee loss will affect future hurricane recon missions(The Ledger)
  • $10M. The amount approved by Polk County Commissioners to be used for an expansion of COVID-19 testing in the county’s vulnerable communities over the next five months. The funds come from the $126M the county received in April under the CARES Act via the federal government. Polk County hospitals will lead the testing efforts and the expanded program will test 7,000 people in July(The Ledger)
  • Feeding Tampa Bay has opened a new “mega pantry” in Lakeland at Lakes Church (1010 E. Memorial Blvd.). The site is located in the back of the church, and will be open every Monday from 4-6:30 p.m., indefinitely. The organization is now feeding 1.7M people in the region, and hopes to serve 1,000 people in one afternoon at the Lakeland church site. The United Way of Central Florida is also distributing food to those in need in Polk County. (WFLA News Channel 8)
  • There’s a new Florida-based COVID-19 tracker map in town, created by data scientist Rebekah Jones – the same scientist who was let go by the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) after allegedly being requested to report fake data on the state’s tracker mapRebekah’s map shows more cases, less testing + more deaths have occurred in Florida than what FDOH’s map states. (Florida Today)
  • Florida ranked no. 28 in WalletHub’s recent list of States with the Biggest Health Improvements During COVID-19. The methodology used to find these rankings include death rates, positive coronavirus testing, and transmission ratesHawaii ranked no. 1 + Arizona ranked no. 51. (WalletHub)
  • The Polk County Tax Collector’s Office has eliminated 70% of its seating to adhere to social distancing measures. Due to this, wait times may be longer(The Ledger)
  • Effective on July 2, Lakeland Electric will increase fuel charges by $8 – from $20.00 per 1,000 kilowatt-hour (kWh) to $28.00 per 1,000 kWh. After making adjustments in May + June to provide customer relief during COVID-19, Lakeland Electric will continue the effort of staying on track toward the target fuel reserve balance this fiscal year.
  • According to reports, after Lakeland assisted-living facility Grace Manor at Lake Morton didn’t use proper safeguards to protect its residents, state officials have placed a moratorium on admissions(Creative Loafing)
  • Polk County is utilizing its $126M federal grant to help families pay for utilities, rents, mortgages + to help small businesses stay open. Individuals + business owners can apply online, starting May 19. More information on application requirements can be found here. And ICYMI, the City of Lakeland is also offering help to residents who are facing COVID-19-related issues. More information on that program here.
  • COVID-19 tests are available through licensed pharmacists in Florida.
  • Publix is now providing face coverings to all its staff to wear as a mandatory safety precaution. (Orlando Sentinel)
  • To report price gouging, call 1.866.966.7226 or file a complaint online here. (WFTS Tampa Bay)
  • New procedures have been put in place for Lakeland’s City Hall (228 S. Massachusetts Ave.). So that staff can better monitor who is coming + going, visitors can now only enter City Hall through Iowa St. Visitors will also have their temperature taken, will be turned away if it is above 101.4º, and will be asked several safety-gauging questions. (Fox 13 Tampa Bay)
  • Lakelander teen William Long was among a group of people interviewed by the New York Times about surviving COVID-19 and being shunned by relatives + friends. While William was excited to go back to hanging out with his friends after recovery, many of his texts to them have gone unanswered, prompting him to seek out mental health counseling and new friends. (New York Times)
  • Loud Life Productions, LLC (a local video production company, based out of Catapult Lakeland) is producing an episodic series about how people all around the world are dealing with the pandemic called the COVID Chronicles. The purpose of the episodes is to help provide a greater empathy + understanding of what other people are experiencing, while everyone is at a distance.
  • 40%. The decrease in reports of Florida child abuse to the state’s hotline, compared to 2019. With schools closed due to COVID-19, many FL teachers + faculty say they don’t have the opportunity to take action if they feel the need to. Although the drop of this number has eased the strain of the foster care system, officials fear that the decrease in reports will negatively impact the children who need protective intervention. (Tampa Bay Times)

Health Care Resources

  • What to do if you think you’re sick (CDC)
  • CDC Resources
  • World Health Organization Resources
  • Tampa Bay Times is sharing stories of Floridians who have lost their lives due to COVID-19. If you’ve lost a loved one, you can fill out this form(Tampa Bay Times)
  • Looking to get tested? Check out this round up from Lkld Now. The Polk County Health Department is also using part of the $10M CARES Act fund to expand testingspecifically in areas where less than 2% of the population has been tested. Officials are hopeful these new test sites (in Lakeland, Fort Meade, Haines City, Davenport, Poinciana, Frostproof + Dundee) will open mid-July. The Florida Department of Health has a goal of testing 2% of the population each month – which breaks down to 14,000 tests a month in Polk County. (Lkld Now)
  • Our friends at LkldNow are updating five charts on their website with local data, daily. You can find more information on numbers in Lakeland + Polk County here.
  • Peace River Center offers a crisis line for emotional support for those who may be struggling with substance abuse during this time. Call 863.519.3744 for immediate assistance.
  • How many people have recovered from COVID-19 in Florida? While recovery data may help paint a fuller picture of the pandemic, Florida is one of 12 states that is not providing a “recovery” count in its novel coronavirus data.You can read more about this here and hereOn a side note, John Hopkins University is tracking recoveries, but FL recovery numbers are missing from this interactive chart.
  • The Florida Department of Health in Polk has set up a call center: 863.519.7911, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Lakeland Regional Health + the City of Lakeland’s Drive-Thru Testing Center is open. Patients will need to make an appointment before they are tested. They can make an appointment by having their provider fax (863.687.1106) or email [email protected]. Patients who do not have a physician referral are encouraged to use Lakeland Regional Health’s COVID-19 Telehealth Service,
  • DYK The Florida Department of Health in Polk County provides coronavirus updates on NextDoor? According to this post (FYI, you’ll need a NextDoor account to see it), Nextdoor neighborhood conversation will remain private to you + your neighbors and the Florida Department of Health will only be able to see messages + replies directed to them.
  • The Florida Department of Health’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard breaks down coronavirus cases by zip code, as well as the county. To find a case by a  ZIPcode, check the “cases by ZIP code” tab, at the bottom of the page. The data uses a person’s home address for reporting, though it may also represent the hospital a person was tested at.
  • Have you received a call from an unknown number, saying that you may have been exposed to the coronavirus? Polk County Department of Health’s 14-person team of contact tracers (comprised of epidemiologists, medical experts, local hospital staff + schooling nurses) is tasked with cutting off the spread of the coronavirus in the community. Part of the tracking process they use involves making cold calls to people who may have come in contact with someone with COVID-19. If you receive a call from someone saying they are a health reporter, you can contact Polk’s COVID-19 hotline at 863.519.7911 to confirm. (The Ledger)
  • Lakeland Regional Health is answering FAQs about COVID-19 here.
  • Lakeland Regional Health is screening visitors to their Emergency Department, Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Trauma Intensive Care Unit, and Medical Intensive Care Unit.
  • Polk County Public School is providing meals to students in need.

Educational Resources

  • One More Child, an organization working to change the lives of orphaned + disadvantaged children across our state and around the world, is asking for classroom item donations through July 19, including flash drives, earbuds, hand sanitizers, and tissue. Items can be dropped off at the Harold Clark Simmons Compassion Center (Lakeland Campus). For the full list of items needed, click here(The Ledger)
  • This week the Board of Governors voted to approve the plan for mostly on-campus instruction on the Florida Polytechnic University campus. The fall semester is slated to begin on Aug. 20. The majority of course offerings will be in-person, with social-distancing measures in place, while a fraction of courses will follow an online model. All classes will be remote following Thanksgiving. (The Ledger)
  • Polk County schools are set to reopen this fall with safety precautions. Possible plans for reopening would be offering both online and in-person learning, installing more handwashing stations around the school + having students switch off in-person learning for different days of the week. Still up for debate is if teachers and students should wear masks + how to safely social distance students who take the bus to school(Bay News 9)
  • Southeastern University Professor Physician’s Assistant, Megan Wagner, is giving back by heading to Arizona through Samaritan’s Purse. The SEU professor will be working with the Navajo Nation – a location that has the highest rate of COVID-19 infections in the US. (Bay News 9)
  • Polk State College is preparing for the return of educators + select staff with a three-phased plan approachMost courses for students are set to remain online for the fall 2020 semester.
  • $14M+. The amount Polk County colleges have received through the federal CARES Act.  The $2T package passed by congress allotted $14B in emergency funding for colleges across the US. Funding is based on student enrollment + the act requires that 50% of the money go to students. Local colleges to receive funding include Polk State College ($6.1M), Southeastern University ($4.8M), Florida Southern College ($2.2M), Florida Polytechnic University ($1.3M) + Warner University ($1.1M). Read more here to see what the colleges are planning to do with the money. (The Ledger)

Travel Resources

  • The Tampa International Airport is conducting a survey about traveling habits before, during, and after COVID-19. The survey is only 3 questions long + takes 2 minutes to fill out. Fill out the survey here + be entered for a chance to win a branded TPA mask.
  • New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are requiring visitors from states with high COVID-19 infection rates to quarantine for a period of 14 days, which, as of Wednesday, includes Florida. NY Gov., Andrew Cuomo is calling this a travel advisory aimed at making sure the rates continue to drop. (Tampa Bay Times)
  • Planning a hike on the Fourth of July? If so, you may want to leave your cash at home. Florida state forests are moving to a cash-free digital system to protect workers + visitorsChecks + money orders will still be accepted for items not available online. (Orlando Weekly)
  • According to a recent AAA surveymost Floridians are changing their travel plans due to COVID-19. Out of 401 people that were surveyed, 76% of Sunshine State residents say the pandemic has affected their plans, and further data indicates that 40% of people have rescheduled one or more vacations + 39% have outright cancelled trips, altogether. (Tampa Bay Times)
  • Due to the impact of the coronavirusFlorida tourism fell by 10.7% in the first quarter of 2020 (compared against the same period in 2019). According to a report by Visit Florida, early estimates show 31.9M people visited Florida in-person during the first quarter of 2020. This accounts for domestic visitors (89%) and overseas + Canadian visitors (4-7%). (Creative Loafing)

Business + Employment Resources

  • The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is warning people to not claim unemployment checks they may have received after returning to work and to send back any checks received past the dates they’ve gone back to work. (Click Orlando)
  • Jobless Floridians who have filed for benefits will receive retroactive unemployment pay. This means that residents who lost their jobs March 9 (or later) will receive benefits on the date they were laid off not the date that an application was filed. Additionally, self-employed, gig workers + independent contractors can also apply for federal benefits. (Florida Politics)
  • The application process for Polk Cares 2020 is now open. Polk County residents + small businesses who have experienced income-related losses due to COVID-19 may now apply for financial assistance. Funds are only available to those who have not already received pandemic-related assistance. (WFLA News Channel 8)
  • New applicants filing for unemployment benefits are recommended to prepare these essential documents before applying in the state of FL.
  • Businesses in Florida have not yet been issued fines for violating coronavirus regulations. As Phase 2 began on June 5 and virus protections were loosened, the responsibility of enforcement has seemingly been up to the public. Business owners in violation could face fines or time in jail(WFTS Tampa Bay)

Community Resources

  • Calling all parents + caregivers. From downloadable resources and online courses + webinars to a free course on “How to Survive Distance Learning,” WonderHerea local learn + play studio for kids – offers coronavirus homebound support on their website.
  • Small businesses + residents in need of assistance after coronavirus-related financial challenges can apply to Polk CARES. The funding comes from the federal government + applications are available online. (Central Florida Development Council)
  • If this pandemic has shown us anything, it’s how resilient Lakeland is, and how we’re finding new ways of doing businessCatapult chatted with its members about 3 attitudes entrepreneurs need to guide them through a crisis. 
  • Lakeland Chamber of Commerce created this chart for those who have lost their job during COVID-19, illustrating various scenarios with correlating resources available. Check out their job posting page as well for employment opportunities around the area.
  • The Early Learning Coalition of Polk County is offering a program for covering child-care costs to first-responders + healthcare workers. Applicants are able to receive up to three months of cost-free child care, regardless of income. Click here for details on how to apply.
  • The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) released an online dashboard where daily updates of unemployment benefits payments can be tracked. (WKMG News 6)
  • The Keystone Challenge Fund will be providing foreclosure counseling for those in need. Residents can call 863-682-1025 to schedule an appointment. This follows an executive order, filed by Gov. DeSantis, to prevent foreclosure and eviction due to nonpayment for 45 days (this began on April 2). Mortgage and rent payments are not waived + will still be owed, according to contracts.
  • Lakeland Mom rounded up a list of Mobile Food Pantries in Polk County – Lakeland, Winter Haven, Mulberry, Auburndale, Bartow & more for those in need of assistance. Note: Make sure to check directly with the food pantry before traveling to one, as the schedules of some food pantries can change during this time. (Lakeland Mom)
  • The Florida Eviction Protection website assists renters in staying informed on federal, state, and local changes to eviction policies + search for legal aid.
  •  Lakeland native Kaitlyn Kelley, and her classmates at Dartmouth College, launched GiveEssential.org to help those on the “hidden frontline” of the COVID-19 fight. This includes grocery store employees, bus drivers, food delivery workers, and others that put their health at risk to help people. (Bay News 9)
  • If you’re struggling with social distancing from friends + loved ones, this list of virtual communication ideas might be helpful.
  • Save + share this page of local resources for small businesses, curated by Catapult. Have more ideas on how to help our community as a whole?
  • The Red Cross is urging healthy individuals to donate blood. See this list of blood banks in Lakeland to donate.
  • The Ledger and The Tampa Bay Times newspapers have lifted their paywalls for important COVID-19 coverage.
  • #SupportLkld. Search or use #SupportLkld on Instagram to share + stay up-to-date on the latest information regarding small businesses + Lakeland citizen support. (The Lakelander)
  • Floridians seeking employment can visit the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity website for assistance.
  • Anchors in the Storma 2,000+ member Facebook group created by Lakelander Tracey Dannemiller – works to help those in the community with a need (washing machines, clothes donation, food, etc.) + shares opportunities for those who can offer assistance. Tracey’s nine-year-old granddaughter came up with an idea to create a Facebook page, after Tracey walked her block, giving out toilet paper. (WFTS Tampa Bay)

Schedule Changes

  • City of Lakeland 
  • College and professional sporting events (CBS Sports)
  • Florida  colleges and universities (WTXL)
  • Local events (Lkld Now)
  • For Kids + families
  • Lakeland businesses
  • Lakeland Electric
  • Polk County Public Schools
  • The Miss America Organization announced that both its competition + the Miss Florida competition have been postponed. Miss Florida is being postponed until June 2021, and current titleholders will maintain their titles. This means that Miss Florida, Michaela McLean, will keep her current title until the next competition takes place.
  • Carnival Cruise Line has canceled all sailings until October 2020. Yesterday, the cruise line announced extending their pause in services + cruise cancellations through Sept. 30. Those who have already booked trips + will be impacted by these changes should have received an email from Carnival or the travel advisor they booked through to reschedule or receive a refund. (FOX 35 Orlando)
  • Disney World is starting to open resorts + campgrounds in Central Florida after months of closures due to COVID-19. Disney has announced plans for a phased reopening with limited capacity, additional health measures, and updated reservation protocolsDisney’s Animal Kingdom + Magic Kingdom are set to reopen July 11, with Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios reopening shortly thereafter, on July 15Beginning this weekDisney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground + select Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts will reopen. Check out the full list of properties reopening on June 22 here. (Click Orlando)
  • Walt Disney World’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2020 has been cancelledGuests who have already purchased tickets will be assisted with refunds in the coming weeks. (My News 13)
  • According to the Patch, the Lakeland Cinemark Theatre is included in the 340 theatre locations the company is planning to reopen by July 17. Cinemark locations are set to have “enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols as well as elevated expectations for employees and guests.” (The Patch)
  • Polk County Public Schools (PCPS) will resume in AugustDistance learning will be available for parents who do not want their children to return to campus. This decision comes after PCPS issued a survey, asking community members, parents, staff, teachers, and others, their thoughts on schools resuming in the fall. According to the survey, out of the 37,000+ respondents38% felt comfortable with students returning to school in August, while 34% felt uncomfortable about students returning to school in August. An additional 18% said they felt that students should return after Labor Day, and 10% said they didn’t know(The Ledger)
  • The Polk Museum of Art is closed to the public until further notice.
  • The Lakeland Piano Festival has been postponed with new dates to come.
  • The tax filing deadline has been extended to July 15. (CNN)
  • The deadline to get a Real ID has been postponed because of coronavirus concerns and the danger of overcrowding at DMVs. The ID will eventually be required to board domestic flights.
  • The Polk County School Board’s in-person meeting originally scheduled on June 30 – has been postponed due to the rise in coronavirus cases. The purpose of the meeting was to allow for public input on the retirement of Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd + a search for her replacement. (The Ledger)
  • Beach reopenings here.
  • Theme park reopening dates in Central Florida here.

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