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
- 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.
- 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.”
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
Doctors at a Brussels hospital are trying an experimental combination of drugs on Phyllis Benigas, a COVID-19 patient from Lakeland who does missionary work in Belgium along with her husband, Tom, Bay News 9 reports. Tom, who has not been allowed in his wife’s hospital room, is sharing updates on Facebook | Facebook profile