More Testing Sites
FDOH-Escambia announced a new drive-thru testing site at Pensacola State College Warrington Campus, 5555 Highway 98 West. It is free to all Florida residents and scheduled to open this Thursday, May 21 at 10 a.m. Individuals are asked to remain in their vehicles, and pre-screening is not required.
The site will also be open at the same times on:
Friday, May 22
Tuesday, May 26
Wednesday, May 27
Thursday, May 28
Friday, May 29
Community Health Northwest Florida
Thursday May 21, the Community Health Northwest Florida COVID-19 drive-through mobile testing unit will be at Carver Park – 208 Webb St., Cantonment, Fla. from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. or until testing supplies lasts. For Escambia County residents of all ages. No pre-screening required. Residents need to bring photo ID and insurance card (if insured).
Friday May 22, the Community Health Northwest Florida COVID-19 drive-through mobile testing unit will be at Marie K. Young Wedgewood Community Center and Park – 6405 Wagner Rd, Pensacola, Fla. 32505 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. or until testing supplies lasts. For Escambia County residents of all ages. No pre-screening required. Residents need to bring photo ID and insurance card (if insured).
DeSantis Defends Dashboard Firing
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday defended the firing of Department of Health employee Rebekah Jones and pushed back against media accounts calling her the chief architect of the state’s COVID-19 information “dashboard.”
The governor also pointed to an issue of an unrelated criminal charge against Jones. During a media availability in Orlando with Vice President Mike Pence, DeSantis said his administration has been transparent and that the COVID-19 data remains publicly available.
“Any insinuation otherwise is just typical partisan narrative trying to be spun,” DeSantis said. “And part of the reason is that because you got a lot of people (reporters) who wax poetically for weeks and weeks about how Florida was going to be just like New York. ‘Wait two weeks, Florida’s gonna be next.’ ‘Just like Italy, wait two weeks.’ Well, hell, we’re eight weeks away from that and it hasn’t happened.”
Jones, who was geographic information systems manager in the department’s Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, told Florida Today that she was fired from her post for refusing to manipulate COVID-19 data after being asked to do so. The story made national headlines, and top Democrats in the state called for an investigation into her firing. DeSantis, however, downplayed her role in developing the online dashboard, saying she isn’t an epidemiologist and that she should have been fired after being charged with cyberstalking.
“I have a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment, so her supervisor dismissed her because of a lot of those reasons, and it was a totally valid way, but she should have been dismissed, long before that,” the governor said.
A review of Leon County court documents shows that Jones was charged in July 2019 with two counts of cyberstalking and one count of sexual cyber harassment. Two of the charges have been closed, but court records show a cyberstalking charge remains open.
source: The News Service of Florida
Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Recommendations
Yesterday, Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson announced the plan to convert Palafox Street, between Main and Garden, to pedestrian-only traffic from 10am-9pm on Sundays through June.
The Downtown Improvement Board has released the recommendations from its Palafox Business Recovery Focus Groups:
Temporary Recommendations for City:
1. More enforcement of businesses not following CDC guidelines
2. Ordinance that restricts panhandling near outdoor dining and business store front areas (does not allow for safe social distancing and makes guest feel unsafe).
3. Convert parallel parking on Palafox between Garden and Main to 15-20min drop-off pick-up only zone: businesses can allow for curbside customer service, delivery pick-up or drop off areas for those who cannot walk long distances.
4. Improved use of City Greenspaces : Allow restaurants to ‘opt-in’ to putting table and chairs in City Parks for outdoor pick-up or delivery dinning (opt-in would convey that restaurant is responsible for providing, cleaning and maintaining furniture and area) signs in the greenspaces would indicate how the space should be used and how many people can safely occupy the space.
Recommendations for DIB:
1. Create a business Plan of Action for future natural disasters or pandemics
2. Incentive program to promote businesses
3. Create a private Instagram page for businesses to share information form City and DIB
4. Host a Zoom meeting to walk businesses through the DIB website
5. Create a guide for greenspaces throughout Downtown
6. Create a sharable link to the ‘greenspace’ guide that merchants can use on their websites to help spread the word
Long Term Recommendations to Improve Downtown:
1. Community App – tells story of PNS and where to shop, dine, events, historical sites, tours etc….
2. Clean and safe public restrooms
3. Convert Zarragossa from Tarragona to Adams to into pedestrian only zone – (little impact on businesses) allow LTU for street use during certain hours and work with UWFHT to activate
their full 9-acre area into the City’s pedestrian zone.
4. Improved Wayfinding signs for walking tours, bathrooms, historical landmarks etc…
5. Kiosk at Casio Beach with Downtown tourism information and Kiosk in Downtown with Beach information
6. Community App – tells story of PNS and where to shop, dine, events, historical sites, tours etc….
7. Trash cans available on each block & each side of the street
8. Reduce speed on Palafox – post the speed limit and enforce
9. Enforce No-skateboarding on sidewalks
10. Enforce noise ordinance – motorcycles and loud cars
11. Create walkable street in Belmont/ DeVilliers area
Full List of suggestions:
1.) Designate spaces per block for 15min pick-up / delivery drivers
2.) Block off all parking on Palafox and allow for merchant use – define when this end
3.) Install portable toilets in locations that offer minimal impacts to businesses
4.) Install handwashing stations throughout the city and greenspaces
5.) Allow restaurants to ‘opt-in’ to putting table and chairs in City Parks for outdoor pick-up or delivery dinning – opt-in would convey that restaurant is responsible for providing, cleaning and maintaining furniture and area.
6.) Convert all parallel parking on Palafox (Garden to Main) to 15-20min curbside pick-up delivery
7.) Relax code restrictions on LTU use of sidewalks and Parking lots
8.) As a last resort – Limit the closure of Palafox to: 6pm to 6am on Friday and Saturday or Sundays
and provide ample advance notification to businesses so they adjust accordingly.
9.) Better utilization of green space throughout the City for seating, music, exercise classes etc.
10.)Turn Zarragossa from Tarragona to Adams to into pedestrian only zone – (little impact on to businesses) allow LTU for street use during certain hours.
11.)Improved Wayfinding signs for walking tours, bathrooms, historical landmarks etc…
12.)Kiosk at Casio Beach with Downtown tourism information and Kiosk in Downtown with Beach information
13.)Community App – tells story of PNS and where to shop, dine, events, historical sites, tours etc….
14.)Work with UWFHT to activate their 9-acre area into pedestrian zone
15.)Ordinance that restricts panhandling near outdoor dining and business store front areas 16.)More beautification efforts to promote downtown as safe – clean–happy- fun & pretty 17.)Trash cans available on each block – each side of the street
18.)More enforcement of businesses not following CDC guidelines
19.)Retail – 2nd Saturday or 3rd Thursday multiple streets closed to promote retail foot-traffic and being outdoors downtown. Not exclusive to Palafox Street (examples 2nd Sat 11-3pm) or (3rd Thurs 4-9pm)
20.)Signs in greenspaces indicating how many people the space can hold and what the space can be used for i.e. Picnic, sports, lounging
21.)Create a guide for greenspaces throughout the City
22.)Link to the ‘greenspace’ guide that merchants can use on their websites to help spread the word
23.)Reduce speed on Palafox – post the speed limit and enforce
24.)Create a Plan of Action for future natural disasters or pandemics
25.)Incentive program to promote businesses
26.)Create a private Instagram page for businesses to share information form City and DIB 27.)Host a Zoom meeting to walk businesses through the DIB website
28.)Do not make any changes and allow the community to come back organically
29.)Enforce No-skateboarding on sidewalks
30.)Enforce noise ordinance – motorcycles and loud cars
31.)Create walkable street in Belmont/ DeVilliers area
32.)Close side streets or streets on the perimeter of Palafox to cars – do not close Palafox – will spread the visitors out to other streets, will promote businesses in other areas and overall it helps all the downtown area, not just Palafox.
SCI Angel Fund
The Studer Community Institute has launched a fundraising campaign to assist business owners, leaders and employees struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.
Their goal is to raise $50,000 to provide access to mentorship and fundamental workplace skills training for upwards of 1,000 individuals.
“Everyone has been affected in one way or another,”wrote SCI in its announcement. “It’s our family and friends who have closed their doors, lost their job, or had hours drastically cut. The purpose of this fundraiser is to help businesses re-open, re-hire and re-train.”
SCI provides links for:
- Those who are able to donate to become an SCI Angel Investor – no donation is small, and
- For how to apply for Angel Assistance.
PSC Kids College goes virtual
The 30th annual Pensacola State Kids College will transfer to an online virtual camp for the summer in response to the COVID-19 shutdown.
PSC Virtual Kids College will begin June 1 and operates from 8:30-10:45 a.m. Monday through Friday.
The Kids College camps last one week, with new camp classes beginning each week. The last weekly session starts July 27. (PSC officials say there is a chance that Kids College could open at some point during the summer, depending on COVID-19 health concerns at the time.)
PSC Virtual Kids College is open to children ages 8 to 14 years old. Prices are $30 for a one-week session. The price is $50 a week for families with more than one child enrolled in the Kids College. In addition, premium STEM related camps are also offered. Other educational resources will be available on website, as well as weekly fun activities.
Topics covered during the camp sessions include science, physical challenges, zoology, arts and crafts, and life skills. Students will need internet access to connect, and classes will be on a password-protected site.
For details, go to https://www.pensacolastate.edu/about-continuing-education/#kidsCollege1.
The New York Times has finally covered a trend that has been going in Pensacola for weeks. The newspaper reports drinking and walking — or “walktailing” — has been occurring at a an unprecedented rate. It’s not legal to saunter down sidewalks with open containers in the vast majority of American cities. Still, police have recently chosen to look the other way when it comes to issuing citations. Read more.