Updated April 1st at 2pm
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is issuing an order directing Floridians to stay at home for 30 days.
The order, which goes into effect at 12:01 am on April 3rd, tells people to stay at home and leave only for “essential services," such as buying groceries, obtaining health care, and getting gas or using the bank.
Updated March 31st at 5pm
Updated March 30th at 6:15pm
Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has recommended that districts keep schools closed through May 1st as cases of COVID-19 continue to increase in the state.
Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) have already announced they will follow the recommendation and keep schools closed during April.
Updated March 30th at 5:15pm
Comb any social media group discussing Alachua County businesses and the Stay At Home order put into effect two weeks ago by the county and you will find comments about a range of infractions.
Lack of social distancing and lack of personal protective equipment are the main complaints. One patient observed an overcrowded diagnostic lab and was told ‘no’ when she asked if she could wait in her car and be called when it was her turn instead of remaining in a full room.
Updated March 28th at 2pm
Amendment #2 to Emergency Order 2020-09, gives OSHA protections to workers and clarifies "gathering" rules. The Amendment also creates an anonymous reporting line (call the 311 Critical Information/Anonymous Report Line) for employees to call when they believe that they are working in unsafe conditions. It also clarifies that religious services are included in the gathering restrictions.
Updated March 26th at 7:30 PM
Children 18 years old and younger can receive free breakfast and lunch while schools are closed through the Alachua County Public Schools’ Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) Department
Updated March 25th at 12:45 PM
Alachua County Commissioner Marihelen Wheeler wants employees working on the front lines of local businesses deemed essential to be better protected from exposure to COVID-19.
During an emergency county meeting on March 24th Wheeler relayed to the commission that she had received emails and phone calls from employees sharing concerns for lack of spacing of customers and lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Updated March 24th at 7:45pm
The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners held an emergency meeting on March 24th to iron out some details and make changes to the Stay At Home order that went into effect less than 24 hours ago.
Commissioners, the county manager, the county attorney and Attorney Bob Swain went through the order’s lists of essential and non-essential businesses and made changes based on feedback from business owners and citizens.
Updated March 24th at 2pm
The County Commission is having an Emergency Meeting today at 5 p.m. The meeting is to discuss the COVID-19 emergency. There will be no motions or votes at this meeting, and it is not open to the public. The community can view the meeting live on Cox Channel 12, Facebook, and the County’s Video on Demand website.
Updated March 24th at 11am
The City of Gainesville is hosting a telephone town hall on Thursday, March 26 at 6:45 p.m. to discuss local updates on coronavirus (COVID-19) and answer questions about the current situation from our neighbors.
Updated March 23rd at 6:30pm
Updated March 23rd at 11:55am
Despite a State of Emergency being issued, the Alachua County Sheriff's Office (ACSO) continues to act on eviction notices it has received, according to a spokesperson for the ACSO.
"Evictions are still occurring," said Sgt. Frank Kinsey, Public Information Officer for the ACSO. "We are trying to be as compassionate as possible, but they are orders that are time sensitive and we cannot choose not to enforce them. Kinsey said the ACSO is waiting on word from James P. Nilon, Chief Judge of the Eighth Circuit Court which includes Alachua County, about suspension of the eviction process.
Updated March 23rd at 10:45am
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, the Department of Environmental Protection announces that at the direction of Governor DeSantis and to successfully uphold CDC guidance to maximize social distancing and avoid gatherings larger than 10 people, DEP will close all Florida State Parks to the public effective Monday, March 23.
Updated March 22nd at 6:30pm
The Florida Department of Health reported 14 new COVID-19 cases in Alachua County at its 6pm briefing, bringing the total to 35 cases.
Six new positive tests of COVID-19 were reported in Alachua County on Saturday, bringing the total to 21 at that time.
The weekend tests more than double the amount of cases in Alachua County.
"We are assuming that we have community transmission," said Alachua County Communications Director Mark Sexton on Saturday. "At this point, whether it is travel-related or community transmitted is not pertinent as all cases are equally dangerous. Moving forward, we will just report case totals."
Updated March 22nd at 6:30pm
The University of Florida today, on its coronavirus website under FAQ, confirmed that seven students tested positive for the coronavirus. According to the site, they are described as:
- Graduate Student, College of Business, off-campus housing
- Graduate Student, College of Business, off-campus housing
- Undergraduate Student, College of Health and Human Performance, off-campus housing
- Undergraduate Student, College of Journalism and Communications, off-campus housing
- Law Student, College of Law, off-campus housing
- Undergraduate Student, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences , off-campus housing
- Employee, College of Veterinary Medicine
Updated March 21st at 7:45pm
Six new positive tests of COVID-19 were repoorted in Alachua County, bringing the total to 21.
"We are assuming that we have community transmission," said Alachua County Communications Director Mark Sexton. "At this point, whether it is travel-related or community transmitted is not pertinent as all cases are equally dangerous. Moving forward, we will just report case totals."
Updated March 21st at 11:15am
Alachua County issued an Order limiting dental procedures to urgent dental care only:
"Dentists and those who practice under their license shall not perform any elective procedures and services until such time as a State of Emergency ceases to exist in Alachua County or this restriction is lifted in writing," it states.
According to the Order, the American Dental Association issued a statement that recommended that Dentists postpone elective procedures for at least three weeks due to COVID-19.
Updated March 21st at 10:50am
Sheriff Sadie Darnell is mandating staff work from home or remotely rather than working in their offices, where applicable, until further notice.
The sheriff believes it is extremely important that all employees take COVID-19 guidelines seriously to prevent contagion. Everyone should be practicing common sense hygiene i.e., frequent handwashing and physical distancing practices. As we have closed the lobbies to the public we have slowly continued to implement a working model to ensure safety of personnel while still providing law enforcement services to the community. The increasing volatility and contagion components of this virus have led Sheriff Darnell to enact this emergency protocol.
Updated March 20th at 5pm
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order this afternoon closing all restaurant dining areas and gyms in the state in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Restaurants will still be allowed to sell take-out orders and will also be allowed to sell alcohol for take-out or delivery with a food order.
The executive order is effective immediately and expires whenever the current state of emergency ends.
Updated March 20th at 3PM
Updated March 19th at 10:30AM
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Today, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) temporarily closed all storefronts and lobbies to safeguard the public and employees from the spread of COVID-19. While these facilities are used to serve customers of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Medicaid programs, the department continues to use technology to ensure continuity of service.
Updated March 18th at 7pm
In collaboration with local non-profit organizations and restaurants, Alachua County Public Schools is seeking donations of both food and funds to help keep children fed during Spring Break and beyond during the COVID-19 crisis.
Updated March 18th at 5PM
Effective 5 p.m. today, City Hall and other city facilities will be closed to the public until further notice. Exceptions include the Gainesville Police Department lobby, Gainesville Regional Utilities' main lobby and certain parks and public restrooms.
Updated March 18th at 3:40pm
Dollar General Corporation announced plans to dedicate the first hour of each shopping day to senior shoppers, as well as amend store operating hours beginning March 17.
Updated March 18th at 3:15pm
The Humane Society of North Central Florida (HSNCF) is monitoring CDC guidelines and complying with all state and local mandates in regards to the outbreak of novel coronavirus worldwide. As a result, the organization is seeking emergency fosters and potential adopters to assist with finding homes for the approximately 50 pets still residing at the shelter. HSNCF is open to potential adopters from Thursday to Sunday between 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. at their adoption facility on NW 6th Street. The organization is limiting the number of individuals permitted inside the shelter at the same time in an effort to encourage social distancing. Potential adopters may also make an appointment to come to the shelter outside of the open adoption hours by calling 352‐373‐5855.
Updated March 18th at 11:30am
The Newberry Commission agreed to enter a General State of Emergency on March 17th.
“We know why we are all here,” Mayor Jordan Marlowe said as he opened the emergency meeting. “The president has declared a State of Emergency, the governor has declared a State of Emergency, Alachua County has declared a State of Emergency,” he said.
Updated March 18th at 11:10am
The City of High Springs declared a State of Emergency on March 17th and closed City Hall at 6 p.m. It will remain closed until April 6th unless otherwise specified. Building inspections will continue to be conducted and scheduled by contacting the Building Department by phone, 386-454-7322 or by email at email@example.com. All other Building Department business will be on hold during that time.
Residents are encouraged to utilize online services available through highsprings.us – including tag renewal. Online fees will be reduced during this time from $3.50 to $2.50.
Updated March 18th at 10:30am
TALLAHASSEE — Today, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) announced that at the Governor’s direction, FDEM Director Jared Moskowitz is ordering additional supplies and personal protective equipment in an effort to mitigate and contain the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Updated March 18th at 8:55am
The City of Alachua continues to monitor and take necessary precautions related to COVID-19. Our preparations are guided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as national and state authorities. We recommend our community continue following the advice from these authorities as well, including regular hand washing and social distancing. We will continue to keep you informed of any actions that may impact you. Please be sure to check for updated information here on our Facebook page, or visit www.cityofalachua.com as this situation evolves.
Updated March 17th at 6:45pm
Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Karen Clarke announced to the School Board of Alachua County on March 17th that students will not be returning to school until at least April 15.
The directive was released within an hour of the regular meeting and Clarke explained to board members that the district will put feeding students and developing a new instructional continuity plan at the top of the priority list.
Updated March 17th at 6:15pm
Jackie Johnson, the Public Information Officer for Alachua County Public Schools, released the following statement in regards to school closings:
Due to COVID-19, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has announced that students will not return to school until at least April 15.
Obviously this will have a huge impact on students, families, staff and the entire community. The Florida Department of Education will be providing more guidance over the next few days regarding graduation and other critical issues. As soon as we have more information, we will certainly let you know.
Updated March 17th at 6pm
In response to concerns from the Gainesville business community and in the interests of the health and safety of our neighbors, City Manager Lee Feldman has issued an emergency directive (No. 2020-02).
It amends yesterday’s executive order as follows:
Large scale retail establishments have been added to the list of essential establishments that are excluded from the order. These include pharmacies, grocery stores, convenience stores, private offices, banks, hotels, hospitals, medical service providers, medical supply stores, hardware stores, gasoline service stations, automotive supply/repair centers, airports and bus stations.
Updated March 17th at 5pm
Santa Fe College announced that all SF facilities will be closed as of 4:30 p.m. today, Tuesday, March 17th, until at least Monday, March 30th. During this time, college facilities will receive a full cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing and therefore, all facilities are closed to the public and buildings will be off limits to all students, faculty and staff.
Updated March 17th at 2:30pm
At a press conference this afternoon, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced he was shutting down bars, ending classroom instruction at universities for the semester, ordering a limit of 10 people at beach gatherings and restricting restaurant occupancy to 50 percent.
Updated March 17th at 12:45pm
Mayor Jordan Marlowe announced via social media on March 17 that he will be declaring a State of Emergency for the City of Newberry.
“This afternoon, I will be declaring a State of Emergency,” he posted.
Updated March 17th at 11:45am
A day after two students presented concerns to the City of Gainesville commission claiming that the UF student population isn’t taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis confirmed that four University of Florida students tested positive.
Updated March 17th at 11:30am
Dogs Rule Owner Jill Davis is offering free transport of pups to her daycare center in Gainesville through May 1 in an effort to help out locals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Davis is also taking into account that local doctors and nurses are having to put in extra long hours so she is reducing her overnight boarding fee from $25 to $20 and reduced the fee for daycare from $20 to $15.
Updated March 17th at 11am
In an effort to deliver daily updates to Florida residents, the Florida Department of Health launched a COVID-19 Case Dashboard on March 16th.
“As part of the state’s ongoing efforts to provide transparency and clarity regarding COVID-19, the Florida Department of Health launched a new COVID-19 Case Dashboard,” the FDOH announced.”
Updated March 17th at 10:45am
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The safety and welfare of our employees and the public we serve are of top priority to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). As we continue to monitor the latest guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), DEP is taking proactive measures and preventative actions to protect visitors, staff and volunteers.
Currently Florida State Parks remain open for day use, however, effective immediately, all Florida State Parks are changing day-use visitation hours to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Updated March 17th at 10am
As the nation adjusts to the threat of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, it’s only natural to worry whether a cough or aches and pains could be signs you have become infected by the virus. Dr. William Petri, a professor of medicine and immunologist at the University of Virginia Medical Center, explains when you need to call your doctor.
Updated March 16th at 7:45pm
Mayor Lauren Poe signed a declaration of pandemic emergency this evening. “We are all in this together,” he said.
City Manager Lee Feldman then outlined the specifics of the declaration.
Non-essential places of public assembly, indoor or outdoor, will be limited to 50 individuals or 50 percent of occupancy. Places that are exceptions include pharmacies, grocery stores, airports, hardware stores, private offices, medical service suppliers, banks.
Non-essential food and beverage service establishments can seat 6 or less people per table, seating at bars is prohibit, no food service is allowed to customers while they are standing.
Non essential eating establishment have restricted operating hours of 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily but can provide takeout and delivery services outside those hours.
RTS busses will run at 50 percent occupancy to keep social distancing. They generally run at 37 to 45 people but will be reduced to half.
The declaration is effective at noon on March 17th and can be extended.
Updated March 16th at 5:45pm
Following the State of Emergency issued in response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Florida and the United States, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office has suspended several functions to support the statewide initiative of “Physical Distancing”. Beginning tomorrow morning (March 17, 2020) the following changes are being implemented.
Updated March 16th at 4:25pm
County Commission Chair Robert Hutchinson has declared a local "State of Emergency" in Alachua County This will give County government a greater ability to react as needed to the COVID-19 events.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now urging a nationwide halt to gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks, citing the risk of the coronavirus. If followed, the guidance - the strongest and most sweeping to date from the agency - will significantly increase the pandemic's disruption to U.S. public life for the next two months.
Updated March 16th at 4:15pm
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – At the direction of Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes has issued an Emergency Order extending all Florida driver licenses and identification cards that will expire in the next 30 days. All Florida driver licenses, commercial driver licenses and identification cards set to expire in the next 30 days will be granted a 30-day extension beyond their current expiration date.
Updated March 16th at 4pm
With additional precautions in place to promote the health of the public and district staff, the March 17th Alachua County School Board meeting of March 17 will go on as scheduled at 6 p.m.
Non-essential items will be eliminated from the agenda to shorten the meeting. The board meeting room is being rearranged to limit seating to less than the fifty people recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and to promote ‘social distancing.’ A monitor will be installed in the building’s outdoor breezeway so overflow visitors can still watch the meeting, and those who wish to address the board will submit the standard request form and be called into the room one at a time.
Updated March 16th at 3pm
We recognize that there is a lot of uncertainty, stress, and questions during this difficult time. We also know that our community is strong, resilient, and we are hopeful that we will face this adversity united. So in that spirit, we wanted to reach out and see how BOOST can help our community. Below are some of the questions/concerns that have been asked from BOOST:
Updated March 16th at 2pm
The SunState FCU Lake City VA Medical Center office and Gainesville VA Medical Center office will not open Monday, March 16th, and will remain closed until further notice due to the Coronavirus event. While no one at either branch has tested positive they are being closed as a precautionary measure. The ATMs at those locations will be available, as well as all other SunState ATMs. All other SunState FCU offices will be open regular hours.
Please visit our SunState Coronavirus update page for the latest information.
Updated March 16th at 11am
Updated March 15th at 10PM:
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Department of Health has announced 39 new positive cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Sunday afternoon.
This brings the total to 115 cases of COVID-19 in Florida, with four deaths.
Earlier today, the Florida Department of Health confirmed the death of a 77-year old male in Lee County who had previously tested positive for COVID-19. Yesterday, Governor Ron DeSantis sent a letter to Health and Human Services requesting the release of 61 Florida residents from Georgia, many of whom are elderly, who were previously aboard the Grand Princess voyage outside of California.
To keep Florida residents and visitors safe and aware about the status of the virus, the Department is issuing regular updates as information becomes available.
Jackie Johnson, the Public Information Officer for Alachua County Public Schools, released the following statement in regards to school closings:
Late this afternoon, Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran instructed all Florida public school districts to extend their spring breaks by an extra week. That being the case, Alachua County Public Schools will be closed from March 16th through March 27th. Currently the plan is to reopen schools on March 30th following deep cleaning of both schools and school buses.
All employees will be reporting for work on Monday the 16th for the cleaning, planning for instructional continuity and other critical tasks as we prepare for next week and for the return of students.
Local businesses, churches, community organizations reaching out on social media to help families in time of need
The High Springs Fire Department posted an announcement on March 13th that the Alachua County School Board would be providing meals for children during the time schools are closed:
During the week of March 16, packaged meals will be given out to all children age 0-18 at Eastside High, Buchholz High, Gainesville High, Newberry High, Santa Fe High and Hawthorne High as follows:
March 16, 8-9 a.m.: Children will be provided with a packaged breakfast
March 16, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Children will be provided with a packaged lunch and a packaged breakfast for the next morning
March 17, 18th and 19th, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Children will be provided with a packaged lunch and a packaged breakfast for the next morning.
Deeper Purpose Community Church and its youth and student ministries are trying to help out Alachua County parents with discounted daycare since the announcements of schools closing on Monday.
“Due to the Mandatory Closure of All Public Schools & Most Private Schools, MANY Parents that cannot take off & HAVE to work, have found themselves in a bind & very little time to find a safe place for the students to go while they work all NEXT WEEK. DPCC is opening its Facilities to the Community all next week from 7:30AM -5:30PM & will be providing a Safe place for students to go. We will have a ton of activities & things for them to do, & they’ll have a lot of fun. You do NOT have to live in High Springs to bring your Children. This is NOT a DAY CARE CENTER, so we’re unable to accept babies & toddlers,” the post reads. “We are asking a DONATION of $20 per day to help with the many costs associated with making this available.”
City of Gainesville COVID-19 Telephone Town Hall, event cancellations, impacts to operations
If you approach the entrance of North Florida Emergency West facility on Newberry Road west of Oaks Mall you will first be greeted by a sign that asks that you be prepared to answer several questions.
And through the sliding doors you will be greeted by a security guard who is wearing a surgical mask and administering those questions.
Do you have a fever and cough/shortness of breath now or within the past 7 days?
Have you traveled in the geographic areas (China, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea) within 14 days of the symptoms onset?
Have you had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days?
The screening is a protocol activated by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and being followed by Alachua County Fire Rescue, Newberry City Fire Department and UF Health.
According to Alachua County Fire Rescue Captain and Health and Safety Officer Joey Malphurs, if someone calls 911, “Our dispatchers will ask what their travel history, have you been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.”
If the patient answers yes, “We put a surgical mask on the patient and then we would put on our protective equipment and transport them to the nearest hospital.”