Assistance programs to continue through New Year
With COVID-19 cases surging and a worrisome Thanksgiving Holiday approaching, Osceola County Commission Chairwoman Viviana Janer announced the launch of a COVID-19 Education and Compliance Task Force on Thursday.
The unit will visit businesses in an effort to provide information and resources to operate safely. Education and consistent application of CDC guidelines is seen as the best defense against the virus.
“I am calling on all businesses to ensure the safety of their patrons and their employees by requiring facial coverings and social distancing," said Osceola County Chairwoman Viviana Janer. "Please do your part so we can continue to grow consumer confidence in the businesses serving our community."
The Florida Department of Health Osceola and Osceola County Office of Emergency Management are preparing for distribution of the vaccine, when it becomes available.
“As we enter the Thanksgiving holiday, we are thankful and encouraged by the news of a vaccine that is very close to moving to the production stage. Please know that we are prepared to support the distribution efforts,” Janer said. “It is our understanding that Phase One will include long-term care facility residents and staff, hospital workers and first responders.”
Echoing the calls from national health leaders, Janer urged residents to use common sense when celebrating next week’s Thanksgiving Holiday – including limiting the circle of people in those gatherings, as well as practicing other safety guidelines.
“We are a week away from Thanksgiving and we have all seen the COVID-19 numbers rising at an alarming rate,” said Janer. “It is imperative to consider traditional Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends as all the experts say they can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu. The CDC recommends that you limit the size of your gatherings to your immediate family only. This may be hard, but it the best decision for everyone’s health and safety.”
Other CDC recommendations:
If you have others visit who do not live in your home, allow everyone to remain at least 6 feet apart at all times.
Host outdoor rather than indoor gatherings as much as possible. Even outdoors, guests need to wear masks when not eating or drinking.
Guests should avoid direct contact with others, including handshakes and hugs.
Coronavirus continues to impact this County on a daily basis. As of the last report from the Florida Department of Health, the total number of cases in Osceola is 16,491 with the average positivity rate for the last two weeks being 8.8 percent. It has taken the life of 229 residents in Osceola County.
As a reminder, Osceola’s mandatory face covering order, which was approved April 1, remains in place – even though Gov. Ron DeSantis removed the penalty from such regulations. Key steps to slowing the spread have not changed: Wear facial coverings, practice social distancing, wash your hands and use hand sanitizer.
Available COVID-19 testing locations are at osceola.org/covid19testing.
The Board of County Commissioners recently revised its strategy for its share of $65.5 million in CARES Act funding. As a result, Osceola County will continue many programs beyond the Dec, 30 deadline.
As of this week, the county has been able to help 1,900 families, utilizing $10.2 million in CARES and SHIP Coronavirus Relief Funds. Funds are still available to assist our residents. If you have previously applied and have been denied or still need help, please reapply.
The COVID-19 Eviction Diversion Program helps Osceola County tenants who are in imminent danger of being evicted. To be considered eligible for the program, landlords and tenants must both apply, and payments will be sent directly to the landlord by our Human Services Department.
The Utility Assistance program supports residents that need help paying their electric, gas or water bills. Participants must be an Osceola County resident and show proof of impact from COVID-19. Utility bills do not need to be past due. There is no cap on the amount an applicant is eligible to receive. This program is open only to residential properties.
As of now, 506 payments have been approved, totaling $283,000. Again, funding is still available, so if you need help please apply. Visit housing.osceola.org for more information on all of these programs.
The board is prioritizing support for businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19. The grant process available with our “We’ve Opened Safely” program, Based on feedback from applicants, we working to streamline the program to make it even easier for businesses to apply.
Currently, 488 applications have been approved, providing $2.7 million to support the recovery. To our business community, please know that money is still available! As I mentioned, the application process has been modified to make it even easier to apply for a grant.
If your business was negatively affected by the pandemic, visit www.weveopenedsafely.com.