The statewide total of confirmed COVID 19 cases has passed 9,000, and the number of deaths related to the coronavirus now stand at 144. The Florida Department of Health says of the confirmed 9,008 cases, 86-hundred-94 involve Florida residents. The statewide average of positive tests is at 11 percent. In Escambia County, there are now 101 positive tests, with 4 current hospitalizations. Santa Rosa County is currently showing 47 positive cases with 7 hospitalizations.
BEACHES STILL CLOSED
The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners voted 4-1 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. Commissioner Doug Underhill cast the lone dissenting vote. Underhill made a motion to open the beaches and find a away for the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office to enforce distancing. His motion failed due to lack of a second. Underhill argued that COVID-19 cases were not increasing exponentially in Florida, but the beach closure is causing undue financial hardships on local residents.
Beginning Monday, ECAT will temporarily suspend fares. In addition, bus passengers will enter and exit through the rear doors only and sit behind the accessibility-reserved seating area. Front-door access will be permitted only for passengers needing the boarding ramp or operator assistance to access the bus. The changes will provide some separation between the operator and the passengers—and between passengers. The changes are being implemented in addition to precautions already implemented by ECAT, including the rigorous and increased sanitizing efforts of every bus on a daily basis.
TROOPERS TEST POSITIVE
Three members of the Florida Highway Patrol have tested positive for COVID-19, while over 40 state troopers and civilian employees of the Florida Highway Patrol are in self-isolation. Aaron Keller with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles says FHP has also conducted facility decontamination and notified people who may have been in contact with those who tested positive.
MILTON ADDING TO SMALL BUSINESS GRANT FUNDS
The city of Milton is throwing some money towards Santa Rosa County’s efforts to help small businesses affected by the COVID 19 pandemic. Santa Rosa County has already pledged $100,000 to the small business recovery grant program, and Milton is chipping in an additional $60,000. The grants will be awarded at a max of $2500 to small businesses that have less than 20 employees and have had at least a 25% reduction in sales revenues since the crisis began. Applications are available for download at Santa-Rosa-Ready-Dot-Com.
PENSACOLA PLAYGROUNDS CLOSED
City of Pensacola playgrounds are closed to the public. The city says parks managed by them remain open to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they are closing playgrounds and other shared equipment. The city does encourage families to continue enjoying open spaces at any of the 93 parks, but visitors should bring their own play equipment.
One of the country’s leading annual forecasters for Atlantic Hurricane Season is calling for an above-normal 2020 season. The early-season prediction from Colorado State University is 16 named storms, including 8 hurricanes and four major hurricanes. On Twitter, lead forecaster Phil Klotzbach says one of the reasons for the prediction is due to the likely lack of El Nino during the summer and fall. El Nino generally increases vertical wind shear in the Atlantic, which helps tearing hurricanes apart.
MILTON FOOD GIVE AWAY
Men In Action Outreach of Milton is partnering with Feeding the Gulf Coast again to help bring food in a time of need to families of our community. The giveaway will be this Saturday from 7 AM to noon at the Milton Community Center Parking Lot. There is no charge to receive food. This is a drive-through event only, which means you must stay in your car. Volunteers will bring the food to you.