COVID-19: Mid-afternoon update

The infection of one, possibly two, local long-term care facilities has moved Escambia County into the top counties for positive cases in such facilities. The facility’s management has not responded to Inweekly’s email. However, we’ve been assured that a Level 3 DOH team is onsite.

It’s disappointing that county officials didn’t seem interested in naming the facility until Inweekly began pressing the issue.

4/9 – 10 am
Rank County Cases *
1 Dade 84
2 Broward 62
3 Palm Beach 59
4 Duval 36
5 Manatee 31
6 Suwanee 30
7 Escambia 18
8 Charlotte 17
9 Bradford 16
10 Clay 16

*in residents or staff of long-term care facilities.


Dear First Responder Agencies and Health Care Providers,

I am pleased to inform you that first responders and health care workers living in Escambia County are immediately eligible at this time regardless of income for subsidized child care from the State of Florida.  The Early Learning Coalition of Escambia County is standing by to assist clients in applying for this care and explain the details of the program.  Care for children birth to age 12 will be provided for at least the next 90 days, maybe longer if the pandemic continues to impact our community.  The attached documents explain the program further.

  • The referral is intended for first responders and health care workers at this time.
  • Also attached are excerpt pages from Governor DeSantis’s Executive Order 20-91 that lists essential services for Healthcare/Public Health and Law Enforcement, Public Safety and Other First Responders.
  • This is the SAME referral process for at-risk families. All documentation requirements are the same.
  • The effective date for the program is April 1, 2020. Current clients who meet the definition for care will be entered into the program as of this date, all others will be as of the date we receive and process the referral. Please ensure the Coalition is made aware of who any current child care clients are so we can get the start date correct. They can be either current private pay or SR clients who are receiving services at one our contracted facilities.
  • We currently have 45 open School Readiness providers. Most of which are operating at something less than desired due to staff shortages and group limits. Some though are looking for children because they have so many absences. So we realize it is hit or miss regarding space available. Please be understanding and work with us on this. We realize your staffs are new to our program and not familiar with our processes. If your parents have issues, especially with the online registration process have them stop and call or email us and we will do what we have to make it work for them and get their children into care.
  • Parents who are interested or have questions please Call 850-332-6775 or email
  • Agencies, HR Departments, etc. with questions can please contact me and my staff at

These documents and a list of Providers that are currently Open are also available on our website. Everyone feel free to share this email and these documents with anyone and everyone who has a need or desire to know.

These are additional details for this program.

  • April 1st is the start date, each clients ninety days starts when they are enrolled.
  • The Coalition is responsible for paying most of the costs of child care, however, parents are still responsible for paying any rate differentials a Provider might have.
  • Currently all of parent fees are waived, this apply to clients in this program as well.
  • Which Coalition a client must apply with is based on the county they live in, and not the county they work in. This program is state-wide so employees living in Santa Rosa can apply with the Early Learning Coalition of Santa Rosa County. Their contact information is or call 850-983-5313.
  • Sorry if you live in Alabama you cannot participate in this program. This is for Florida residents only.

Again, this information can be shared with anyone and everyone interested or needing to knowing about this. The Early Learning Coalition of Escambia County and Florida thank you for what you do and want to be of any assistance we can.  We are thankful for the opportunity to be able to support you in this way.

For news agencies that are on this email please help us get the word out for our heroes that can benefit from our assistance. Also keep in mind these child care providers are heroes too. They are risking exposure every day in service to our community.

Getting this word out is important so I am going out on limb and offering my cell phone number to all y’all: 850-287-0650. I ask, however, as much as possible please use first, but call if you need to. I am on a short tether for both.

R. Bruce

Walter B. Watson, Jr.
Executive Director
Early Learning Coalition of Escambia County

Commissioner May to Host Grab-N-Go Easter Celebration for Kids April 11

Join District 3 Commissioner Lumon May, retired NFL guard Josh Sitton, retired professional boxer Roy Jones Jr. and retired NFL defensive tackle Fred Robbins at a grab-and-go, drive-through Easter event for children on Saturday, April 11 from 10 a.m. to noon at Legion Field, 1301 W. Gregory St.

Parents and children will receive a free boxed lunch, fresh vegetables and fruit. An Easter goody bag will be given to children at no cost, while supplies last.

“The last few weeks have been a difficult time for all of us as we adjust to the new normal of limiting gatherings and social distancing amid COVID-19,” Commissioner May said. “We wanted to give kids and families a sense of normalcy and provide a fun way to get out of the house and still celebrate the holiday.”

Participants are asked to utilize a drive-through area at Legion Field during the event and will receive a boxed lunch and Easter goody bag for each child in the vehicle. A walk-up concession stand will be available for participants as needed, and all social distancing methods should be followed by those waiting in line.

The Easter Grab-N-Go event is sponsored by the Sitton family, Troy and Ashley Rafferty of the Levin Papantonio Law Firm, Cindi Bonner, Dave Sharruf and Sandy Veillet from the Farm. Mayor Grover Robinson and the Pensacola Police Department are also supporting the event by providing resources from PPD for traffic control and distribution assistance. For more information, please call 850-293-5345.