As Osceola County residents prepare for Halloween, officials hope for more treats than tricks as residents enter a fall where COVID-19 cases are on the rise.
According to a county press release, officials urge residents to be safe, follow the CDC’s recommendations, limit the size of your gatherings and try to keep them outside, social distance, wear facial coverings, wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer.
“Please remember that this disease is still very serious and has not gone away,” said Osceola Commission Chairwoman Viviana Janer. “We have to protect one another and do the simple things than can help reduce the spread of the disease. We cannot forget that this Coronavirus is deadly and we have lost 202 lives.”
With the expectation that the Gov. Ron DeSantis will not extend his order regarding telephonic public meetings, the Board of County Commissioners’ will return to in-person meetings, open to the public. The meeting on Monday, Nov. 2, will be held at the county’s Extension Services building at Osceola Heritage Park.
Beginning on Nov. 9, board meetings will return to the Commission Chambers inside the county Administrative Building, where appropriate precautions have been installed, including plexiglass dividers, hand sanitizer stations and other precautions. Face coverings and social distancing will be enforced. You can also still participate in our meetings virtually. Visit Osceola.org for more information.
Even though employees are returning and meetings will resume, the county’s buildings will remain closed to the public for day-to-day business.
“As we all fight the Coronavirus on the health front, the Board of County Commissioners continues to offer key programs to support the community’s economic health, and I urge those who need the help to apply for household and business assistance,” Janer said.
The county’s programs and initiatives, including support for COVID testing and PPE, total $29.5 million, 45 percent of our CARES funds.
As of this week, the county has been able to help 1,638 families, utilizing $7.2 million in CARES and SHIP Coronavirus Relief Funds.
There is no maximum for the rental and mortgage foreclosure prevention assistance program through the end of year. If you have previously applied and have been denied or still need help, you can reapply.
Additionally, Osceola’s COVID-19 Eviction Diversion Program continues. To be considered, landlords and tenants must both apply. Payments will be sent directly to the landlord by our Human Services Department.
For those at risk of eviction, remember that the CDC has also issued a moratorium on evictions until the end of the year, but you must submit a special document provided by the CDC. You can find it on the county’s website at www.osceola.org/covid19.
The Utility Assistance program is remains available for residents who have been unable to pay electric, gas or water bills. There is no cap on the amount an applicant is eligible to receive. This program is open only to residential properties. As of now, 483 payments have been approved, totaling $193,000. Again, funding is still available, so if you need help, apply for it. Visit housing.osceola.org for more information on all of these programs.
The board also continues to support the business community with grants available through the “We’ve Opened Safely” program. Currently, 314 applications have been approved, providing $1.78 million to support these businesses impacted by COVID-19. If your business was negatively affected by the pandemic, please find our grant program at www.weveopenedsafely.com.
The board has also made supporting our food pantries a priority with our COVID funds, allocating approximately $897,118 to fight food insecurity. These dollars have helped purchase food supplies and equipment to help 15 local pantries.
• Provided the School District with $2.3 million in CARES Act funds for computer equipment, including 3,800 computers, cameras, and other training devices, as well as rapid job training, basic education and language programs at Osceola Technical College and the Adult Learning Center of Osceola.
• Valencia College received more than $800,000 in funding to support at least 340 eligible students to complete Accelerated Skills Training programs, language training, and earn credentials that will lead to gainful employment.
• Supported the recovery of our tourism industry, the largest provider of jobs for our residents, by earmarking $3.7 million for Experience Kissimmee to launch recovery marketing campaigns, to tell travelers we are open, safe and ready to welcome tourists back to a world-class destination.
• Extended health services within Osceola, with $200,000 to the Health Department for two mobile medical units, and another $460,000 for an additional mobile medical unit, and protective equipment and supplies.
• $75,000 to Park Place Behavioral Health Care to provide mental health assistance.
• $125,000 has been used to rehouse many homeless residents living in abandoned motels.
• The Early Learning Coalition will receive $500,000 for childcare assistance programs, while United Cerebral Palsy School will receive $246,000 to support distance learning.
• $250,000 will go towards assistance programs to aid our elderly and disabled residents.