With spring break fading into distance learning for Polk public school students this week, the school district has this message for families: “Right now, we are asking parents and students to be patient. Your teacher will contact you with details about how distance learning will take place in their classes.”
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Polk County rose to 63 on Sunday evening, up from 28 four days earlier. Twelve of those cases were in Lakeland, up from three on Thursday. More
One week after closing most city parks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Lakeland City Commissioners today moved to reopen some by Thursday. Parks that will reopen include open-air facilities that commissioners feel can accommodate social distancing: trails, tennis courts, dog parks, boat ramps and the Cleveland Heights Golf Course. More
The coronavirus pandemic will peak in Florida around May 3 and tail off in the first weeks of June, according to projections from the University of Washington. If Floridians adhere to strict social-distancing measures, the state should have enough hospital beds but nevertheless faces a shortage of intensive care space, the institute predicts. More
A professor at Florida Southern College wants Billy Townsend’s job. William Allen, 45, has filed to run for the Lakeland-based District 1 seat on the Polk County School Board currently held by Townsend, 48. More
- CITY AND BUSINESSES: An article previewing today’s City Commission meeting may sow some confusion. It starts by saying that Mayor Bill Mutz will recommend the city close all non-essential businesses, based on statements the mayor made on Thursday. However, Mutz later decided not to make that recommendation, saying a policy should be countywide, as LkldNow reported Saturday.
- BUSINESSES: Reporter Gary White takes a look at how social-distancing measures are affecting yoga studios, which are offering classes via live-stream and video, and massage therapy and spa services: most are suspending hands-on visits; some are offering gift cards, facial/body products and virtual services.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Polk County rose to 46 on Sunday evening, up from 28 three days earlier. Seven of those cases were in Lakeland, up from three on Thursday. More
Negotiations for Virgin Trains USA to obtain the right-of-way along I-4 it needs for an Orlando-to-Tampa Brightline express rail service are on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. Local officials hope that the Central Florida rail line would eventually include a Lakeland stop.
- SOCIAL SERVICE orgs responding to the coronavirus emergency include United Way and GiveWell partnering on a new fund, the 2-1-1 hotline for services info, VISTE pivoting, a Facebook grocery network to organize shopping for seniors, YMCA child care services, Explorations V day camp, and a Facebook-based citizens response group
- SCHOOLS in Polk County resume this week with distance learning, and a large focus is getting 60,000 electronic devices to families who need them.
When the Lakeland City Commission meets Monday, it will consider extending the current seven-day closure of city parks, but Mayor Bill Mutz said he no longer plans to seek a one-week stay-at-home order or closure of non-essential businesses for now. More
- FUNERAL homes are responding to social distancing measures by live-streaming ceremonies, which are being limited to 10 people, or holding burials and cremations now with the intent to follow with celebrations of life when conditions are safer.
- BLOOD DONATIONS continue as One Blood donation centers and bloodmobiles remain open.
- FLORIDA: From The Morning Paper’s parent company, USA Today looks at efforts to procure more test kits and the Tallahassee bureau examines lags and shifts in the state’s reporting of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
The company developing a five million-square-foot industrial and business park bordering the Polk Parkway in west Lakeland has hired Whit Duncan, an experienced commercial real estate pro, to manage the project. Parkway Property Investments LLC was joined by another firm in acquiring the 730-acre tract for $10 million late last year. (See an overview of this project starting on page 34 of this document.)
- TESTING: As Lakeland residents experience difficulty being tested for coronavirus because of limited supplies, at least two Fire Department first responders with symptoms were initially denied testing before ultimately getting approved; results were negative for at least one, a department spokeswoman said.
- BUSINESSES: The same article quotes Mayor Bill Mutz saying he will recommend Monday at the City Commission’s next meeting that non-essential businesses close temporarily to prevent the spread of the virus: “When we have surrounding counties issuing stay-at-home decrees, I think we probably should consider it also.” In a video released by the city Thursday, Mutz said that a stay-at-home order for Lakeland will be considered if the number of confirmed cases here rises dramatically.
- GUNS: Sales of firearms and ammo have surged in the last two weeks, local gun shop owners report. Said one: “Whenever people panic, they do two things,” he said. “The first thing is they go buy their necessities — their food, their toilet paper, their water, their gas. And then they buy the items to protect their necessities.”
Music lovers: We plan to transform LkldNow’s live music calendar to a local live-stream music calendar until venues can start hosting performances again. Our calendar isn’t ready, but we do want to let you know about a few local live streams coming up: More
KidsPACK, which provides meals for 1,800 food-insecure children in Polk County, is reaching out to the community for donations of food and other assistance, saying their bulk suppliers are hampered by grocery hoarding | KidsPACK website