Where can I go for accurate information about COVID-19?
What policies will be in place when City buildings reopen on June 1?
Re-Opening City Hall Annex
Where can I go for guidance specific to communities, schools and workplaces?
Where is Charlotte County offering drive up testing by appointment?
Charlotte County COVID-19 Charlotte Sports Park Testing
CVS in Punta Gorda to offer by appointment testing
Self-swab tests will be available to individuals meeting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, in addition to age guidelines. Patients must register in advance at CVS.com beginning Friday, May 22 to schedule an appointment. Patients will be required to stay in their cars and directed to the pharmacy drive-thru window where they will be provided with a test kit and given instructions, and a CVS Pharmacy team member will observe the self-swab process to ensure it is done properly. Tests will be sent to an independent, third-party lab for processing and the results will be available in approximately three days.
City of Punta Gorda Building Department announces fee reductions
To assist residents and business owners during this period of financial hardship The City of Punta Gorda Building Department will reduce all building permit fees, residential and commercial, by 25%. This includes new construction. Call 941-575-3394 for more information about permitting and fees or visit www.cityofpuntagordafl.com.
Meeting Cancellations for the City of Punta Gorda
Please be advised that effective immediately, all advisory board meetings have been cancelled indefinitely, including those meetings scheduled for the months of March,, April and most of May. Only those meetings that have time sensitive agenda items will meet at the end of May and in June. The City Council has declared a local State of Emergency and is taking this action in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control, as well as Executive Orders issued by the Governor.
In the effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the community the City of Punta Gorda will temporarily closed all of its buildings to the public effective at the close of business on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. The offices remain staffed during regular business hours 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. This includes Historic City Hall, City Hall Annex, Public Works and Utilities Campus. An employee will be available in the City Hall Annex to assist residents and stakeholders with deliveries and accessing City services. Staff members are available via online services, telephone, email or physical mail. A drop box for utility payments is available in the parking lot behind the City Hall Annex. The complete list of online services can be accessed at www.CityofPuntaGordaFl.com/i-want-to and phone/email directory is available at http://www.ci.punta-gorda.fl.us/i-want-to-/advanced-components/list-detail-pages/phone-directory or simply call (941) 575-3302 to have your call connected to the department of your choice.
Public Safety Building
The Public Safety Building lobby is open, but the front desk is not. The Fire Department sharps container exchange and prescription medication drop box will still be available in the lobby. A phone allowing the public to contact our dispatch center will be available, but we encourage the public to use this only if other means of contact are not feasible. If you need to make a non-emergency report, please call 941-639-4111 from your home or cell phone whenever possible. For emergencies dial 911.. Members of the public who come into the lobby to make a non-emergency report that does not require an officer response will be asked to provide a cell phone number and to wait outside or in their vehicle. An officer will contact them by phone to take the report. If a cell phone is not available they will be transferred to an officer via the lobby phone and the officer will take the report. If an officer response is necessary they will be asked to wait outside or in their vehicle and an officer will respond to take the report. Officers will not enter the lobby and members of the public will not be brought into the secure portion of the police department absent an emergency situation or when the officer determines it is absolutely necessary. The Records Unit window will be closed. Public records requests can be made using our online portal by visiting www.pgpdrecords.com or by mail by sending the request to PGPD Records Unit, 1410 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda, Florida 33950.
Parks and Amenities
Gilchrist Park playground, Laishley Park Interactive Fountain, Cooper Street and Gilchrist Park basketball courts and Bailey Brothers Park playground are all closed until further notice.
All other amenities are open. Social distancing measures need to be practiced and no groups larger than 10 will be allowed to gather.
Laishley park community room limited to less than 10 people at one time
Events and Festivals
All events and festivals on City of Punta Gorda property cancelled or postponed until May 15. The Punta Gorda Farmer's Market will be open 8 a.m.-12:00 p.m. on Saturdays and the History Park Farmer's Market will be open 9 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. on Sundays.
What if I can't pay my City of Punta Gorda water bill?
During the declared state of emergency your water will not be turned off
Is the City of Punta Gorda Building Division still running?
Limited services are available learn more at COVID - 19 Update 3-23-20200001. Or call 941-575-3324 for more information.
Businesses and Organizations
Please check private business and organizations individual websites for closures. The Governor's Orders restricting businesses are listed below.
Are Vacation Rentals allowed in Charlotte County?
Yes, for full details and restrictions visit https://marketing.pureflorida.com/acton/ct/42461/s-0020-2005/Bct/l-0009/l-0009:db/ct0_0/1?sid=TV2%3AisEsS8X9m.
Where can I view the presentation given by Governor DeSantis on 4/29/2020?
The presentation can be viewed at Safe Smart Step by Step
The complete order can be viewed at EO-20-112
Frequently Asked Question answers are available at FAQ 20-112
What does Phase 1 of Safe.Smart. Step-by-Step mean?
- Schools remain distance learning.
- Visits to senior living facilities are prohibited.
- Elective Surgeries can resume.
- Restaurants may offer outdoor seating with six foot space between tables and seating at 25% capacity.
- Retail can operate at 25 % of indoor capacity.
- Bars, gyms, and personal services such as hair dressers remain closed.
- Vulnerable individuals should avoid close contact with people outside the home.
- All individuals, when in public, should maximize physical distance from others.
- Avoid socializing in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for physical distancing.
- Museums and Libraries may be open with no more than 25% of building occupancy. Play areas and interactive functions must remain closed.
- Face masks are recommended for all those in face-to-face interactions where you can't social distance..
What is the CDC doing to help Health Departments?
Resources from CDC
CDC is using a multi-pronged approach to help enhance and complement the efforts of state, tribal, local, and territorial staff. This initiative will help health departments with the staffing resources they need for their programs to get and keep America open.
- Federal Resources for COVID-19 Contact Tracing Staffing This fact sheet describes several ways health departments can access additional staffing for COVID-19 contact tracing, including through State Service Commissions and AmeriCorps Programs, CDC, and FEMA.
- COVID-19 Staffing Guidance CDC COVID-19 staffing guidance for state, tribal, local, and territorial health departments.
- CDC’s COVID-19 Response Corps The COVID Response Corps is a part of CDC’S multi-pronged approach to help enhance and complement the efforts of state, tribal, local, and territorial staff through innovative hiring mechanisms. This initiative will help provide access to a variety of mechanisms to complement local efforts to increase workforce capacity.
- CDC Foundation: COVID-19 Corps Jobs In support of CDC’S COVID-19 Response Corps, the CDC Foundation is urgently recruiting candidates for critical positions nationwide. Interested parties should go to the CDC Foundation website and apply directly for positions.
- COVID-19 Training Resources CDC’s COVID-19 trainings are available on TRAIN, a national learning network that provides training opportunities to professionals who protect and improve the public’s health.
What are the new regulations for Florida that go into effect on May 18?
Full Phase One
What are Florida's next steps?
Key metrics to consider as we move to next steps:
- The state maintains the health benchmarks of the Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Plan
- Maintaining hospital bed capacity
- Monitoring COVID-19 test positivity rate
Where can I read the Opening up America Guidelines released on 4/17/2020?
Guidelines Opening up America Again
Where can I view the April 8 City of Punta Gorda COVID-19 update?
What message does Mayor Prafke have regarding COVID-19?
Mayor Nancy Prafke provided the following update on April 8 Mayor Prafke's Update
What is Punta Gorda Fire Chief Ray Briggs saying about COVID-19?
Chief Ray Briggs provided the following update on April 8 Chief Briggs Update.
What is Punta Gorda Chief of Police Pam Davis saying about COVID-19?
Chief Davis provided a statement to all Business and Citizens' Advisory Councils on April 7. The statement is available at Chief Davis COVID-19 Update.
Where can I get information about COVID-19 Updated 4/4/2020?
What have been the State of Florida's actions in response to COVID- 19?
An executive order issued by Governor Ron DeSantis Friday, March 20, requires all restaurants and food establishments in Florida to be take-out-only. The food establishments are allowed to operate their kitchens, but dining rooms must be closed. Additionally, the Executive Order requires all gymnasiums and fitness centers in Florida to close.
Governor DeSantis ordered all of Florida’s bars and nightclubs closed for 30 days starting March 17 and restaurants must limit their occupancy to half capacity. Additionally, he asked Florida’s university board of governors to require students to return home for remote learning for the rest of the spring semester. Expansion to private laboratories changes the COVID-19 testing landscape in Florida. Private laboratories will run tests as they receive swab samples from practitioners. Testing and reporting times will vary among commercial and DOH laboratories. Demographic information may be updated during investigations.
Governor Desantis has provided several additional updates on Florida’s efforts to respond to COVID-19:
- Governor DeSantis directed Director Moskowitz to expand his emergency order and prohibit all
visitation to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult family-care homes, long-term care facilities and adult group homes to all visitors for the next 30 days.
- Governor DeSantis directed the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to suspend
drivers’ license renewal requirements for 30 days.
- Governor DeSantis directed all agencies to suspend for 30 days licensing and registration
renewal requirements for existing processional licenses (e.g. realtors).
- Governor DeSantis sent a letter to the federal Small Business Administration to turn on the SBA loan program for small businesses.
- Governor DeSantis Executive Order 20-82 requires all persons coming from the New York Tri-State Area to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time they enter Florida.
- Governor DeSantis Executive Order 20-83 issues a public health advisory to all persons over 65 years of age urging them to stay home, urging those with underlying medical issues to stay at home and take such other measures as necessary to limit their risk of exposure. The order also prohibits social or recreational gatherings of 10 or more people. It also urges those who can work remotely to do so.
- The formal public health advisory from the Florida Department of Health Surgeon General.
- Governor DeSantis enacted Executive Order 20-87 which suspended short term vacation rentals that have a reservation check-in date after today, March 28th. The Executive Order will expire in fourteen days unless it is extended by a subsequent order. Travelers who have already checked into a vacation rental or who will check into their vacation rental by Saturday, March 28th will be allowed to stay for the duration covered by their rental agreement before they have to return home. This order was extended with EO-20-112
- Governor DeSantis also enacted Executive Order 20-86 which was targeted at travelers driving to the state from areas with a substantial community spread (such as Louisana). It built upon Executive Order 20-87 which imposed self-isolation and quarantine restrictions on people flying in from Connecticut, New Jersey or New York.
- Governor DeSantis issued EO 20-91 a Safer at Home order. Charlotte County has put together a F.A.Q to aid in understanding the order https://www.charlottecountyfl.gov/Documents/Executive-Order-FAQ.pdf.
- Governor DeSantis issued order E0-94 suspending foreclosures and evictions for 45 days.
- Governor DeSantis issued order EO-20-112 Safe. Smart, Step-by-Step, Plan for Florida's Recovery EO-20-112
- Governor DeSantis issued order EO-20-114 extending the State of Emergency for 60 days.
- Governor DeSantis released information that barber shops, nail salons and hair salons can open on May 11th with proper Personal Protective Equipment and procedures to protect the public.
What if I think my neighbor is violation the vacation rental order?
Enforcement of the vacation rental order is being handled through the Florida Department of Business Regulation. According to their website to report concerns regarding compliance with Executive Order 20-71, Executive Order 20-87 or Executive Order 20-112, please submit information to DBPR through the online complaint form.
Where can community members go to get financial help with basic needs or donate to provide help for those affected?
The Charlotte County Community Organizations Active in a Disaster (COAD) has begun creating a point of entry service for the various needs our residents may have. Eligibility screenings are done through Charlotte County 2-1-1. Funding will range from rental/mortgage, transportation, utilities, childcare, food needs, etc. Simply call 2-1-1 or 941-205-2161 or visit https://coadfl.org . Donations can be made at https://charlottecf.org/donate/.
St. Vincent de Paul, Scared Heart Conference provides financial services 25200 Airport Road Punta Gorda http://svdpdov.org.
Where can business owners go for help?
The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program is currently available to small business owners located in all Florida counties statewide that experienced economic damage as a result of COVID-19. Learn more at https://floridadisasterloan.org/.
The Economic Development Partnership website is continually updated with the latest information for business https://cleared4takeoff.com
The Short Term Compensation Program is available to assist employers with maintaining employees http://floridajobs.org/office-directory/division-of-workforce-services/reemployment-assistance-programs/short-time-compensation-program-for-employees.
Business Owners please be sure to fill out Governor DeSantis's Emergency Business Damage Assessment at https://floridadisaster.biz/.
FGCU’s Regional Economic Research Institute has been asked to conduct a two-part impact study of the coronavirus on Southwest Florida, and in order to complete this in the most effective and timely way, Visit https://fgcucob.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cO22khPeAChvcyx. The results to create a report establishing how the virus is affecting the Southwest Florida economy, which will be shared with you to thank you for your cooperation. Besides allowing us to assess the effects of the virus on our region over time, The survey will be an important part of applications from our area for state and federal relief efforts following this episode. Providing assessments such as the survey results will us to be better prepared when these efforts get under way.
GrowFL Launches Virtual Roundtable to Help Second-stage Business Owners Navigate COVID-19 Fast answers to tough issues - program begins in April Visit GrowFL-VirtualRoundtables.systemforintegratedgrowth.org to register. Through a partnership with the Edward Lowe Foundation, GrowFL is launching a Virtual Roundtable program that will allow second-stage business owners to meet April through June to help navigate through the COVID-19 crisis through peer-to-peer collaboration. Virtual PeerSpectives Roundtables quickly put you in contact with other business owners, presidents and CEOs of secondstage companies via a video conferencing app. Sessions are led by trained PeerSpectives® facilitators from the Edward Lowe Foundation. The roundtables leverage a proven set of protocols, giving participants a convenient — and confidential — place to delve into their most pressing issues.
Online Business Resource Center GrowFL COVID-19 Business Resource Center offers a full list of resources and expert articles. https://www.growfl.com/category/covid-19/ NEW - GrowFL COVID-19
The Small Business Owner's Gide to the CARES Act
Where can parents go for help with food for Charlotte County School children?
The Charlotte County School District has information available at https://www.yourcharlotteschools.net/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&DomainID=8&ModuleInstanceID=9370&ViewID=6446EE88-D30C-497E-9316-3F8874B3E108&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=38679&PageID=9&fbclid=IwAR2NSaKX8AepF7M_lxdzgHZJEQ5npdUC9XFHX5tK_UFYN_03entZpd85ATE.
What is happening with people coming in from out of state?
We have received some inquiries about homes in the City being recently occupied by people who are presumably from out of state areas based on their vehicle registration plates. The concern is that many of these vehicle registrations are from states that have been identified as those requiring a 14 day quarantine when people arrive in Florida from those states (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana, and Alabama). Please be aware that the Department of Health is monitoring all individuals who have been mandated to be quarantined. The monitoring includes daily calls and random checks to ensure compliance with the quarantine. Any questions or concerns about people suspected of not adhering to the quarantine order should contact the Florida Department of Health. Please keep in mind Keep in mind that we do have people that own homes in Punta Gorda and split their time in between two locations. Just because an out of state license plate is seen doesn't mean that they have recently traveled to the community. In many cases people have been here since last fall.
Where can I get local community information?
Florida Weekly has created a FREE community resource site at www.floridaweekly.com/wearehere.
What additional resources are available?
The World Health Organization offers a comprehensive "myth busting" resource at https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters.
People of all ages can be infected by COVID-19. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.
The World Health Organization advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.
Ambulances and Hospitals
Rumor- It is not safe to take ambulance and be admitted to the hospital
You will not be exposed to COVID 19 or any other infectious diseases if you need to go to the hospital by ambulance. Charlotte County Fire & EMS staff are performing self-health and wellness checks multiple times daily to ensure they remain healthy and able to continue assisting our community. After transporting any patients with symptoms of any infectious disease or illness, the ambulance, equipment, and stretcher are wiped down and thoroughly decontaminated before the crew and ambulance responded to another call.
Your safety and the delivery of quality, compassionate care remains our top priority and the top priority of our local partners at the hospitals. The hospitals are always prepared to respond to all infectious diseases, whether measles or flu and they have made thorough preparations to handle any potential incidences of COVID-19 safely.
We all take seriously our role in helping to keep our community healthy and caring for you, your friends, and your loved ones.
Rumor: Antibiotics will kill the new coronavirus.
Antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. The new coronavirus is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment. However, if you are hospitalized for the new coronavirus, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.
Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth). Be aware that both alcohol and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations.
Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the new coronavirus.
The COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather and in colder climates.
Florida universities are not closing. Many schools are on spring break during March and some extended that break. Online courses are being expanded, but dorms and food service continue to be open. For information about the 12 state universities, visit https://www.flbog.edu/2020/03/15/statement-on-the-status-of-the-state-university-system/
For information about state colleges, including Florida SouthWestern State College and State College of Florida, visit http://www.fldoe.org/em-response/ and scroll down to Florida College System Closures
The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.
Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.
Rumor: Hand dryers can kill COVID-19
Hand dryers are not effective in killing COVID-19. To protect yourself against COVID-19, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Dry thoroughly using paper towels or a warm air dryer.
Lifespan of virus
It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).
Rumor: Charlotte County and the City of Punta Gorda is on a mandatory lock down and we have to have a work pass to go to work and the only time we can leave is if we have doctor appointment, work or shopping for food.
False. Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide Safer At Home order effective April 3. Work passes are not needed, essential businesses can remain open and residents can shop, work in essential businesses, visit doctors and veterinarians, exercise outdoors and attend religious services under Centers for Disease Control guidelines for social distancing.
To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat COVID-19.
However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care. Some specific treatments are under investigation, and will be tested through clinical trials. The World Health Organization is helping to accelerate research and development efforts with a range or partners.
Rumor: Mosquitoes can transmit COVID-19.
The COVID-19 CANNOT be transmitted through mosquito bites. COVID-19 is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.
Rumor: The new coronavirus was made in a lab.
There is a rumor the virus was probably made in a lab. No evidence suggests that the virus is man-made. SARS-CoV-2 closely resembles two other coronaviruses that have triggered outbreaks in recent decades, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, and all three viruses seem to have originated in bats. In short, the characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 fall in line with what we know about other naturally occurring coronaviruses that made the jump from animals to people.
The new coronavirus has been traced to an outbreak at a live animal market in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
Rumor: The virus can be transmitted on packages shipped from China or elsewhere.
There is a rumor the virus can be transmitted on packages shipped from China or elsewhere. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, traveled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.
Rumor: Punta Gorda is shutting down restaurants.
Punta Gorda does not oversee the operation of restaurants and bars. On March 17, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered all bars and nightclubs to close for 30 days and all restaurants to cut seating capacity by 50%. The state agency overseeing those entities is the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. For information, visit http://www.myfloridalicense.com/DBPR. Restaurants are open and able to sell both food and alcohol.
On March 20 Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered the closure of restaurants to on premise consumption of food and alcohol. View the order at Governor DeSantis EO 20-71
On April 29 Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis allowed for the reopening of restaurants for outside dining with social distancing of six feet between table requirements and indoor seating at 25% capacity. Parties need to be less than 10 people and bar counters remain closed. EO-20-112
Rumor: You can get the coronavirus if you eat at Chinese restaurants in the U.S.
You can't. By that logic, you'd also have to avoid Italian, Korean, Japanese and Iranian restaurants, given that those countries have also been facing an outbreak. The new coronavirus doesn't just affect people of Chinese descent.
Saline nasal spray
Rumor: Saline spray prevent new coronavirus infections.
There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus. There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.
Charlotte County Public Schools are closed until further notice. For more information about school closures, visit http://www.fldoe.org/em-response/.
Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever (i.e. have a higher than normal body temperature) because of infection with the new coronavirus.
However, they cannot detect people who are infected but are not yet sick with fever. This is because it takes between 2 and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever.
Rumor: UV lamps can sterilize skin
UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.
Rumor: Vaccines for other viruses protect you from the new coronavirus.
Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus.
The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against 2019-nCoV, and the World Health Organization is supporting their efforts.
Although these vaccines are not effective against 2019-nCoV, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health.
For more questions and answers about the new coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes, visit www.CDC.gov, www.FloridaHealth.gov, https://www.who.int/
Sources: Florida, Florida Department of Health, Florida Board of Governors, Florida Board of Education, World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention