As of 11 a.m. Monday, there were 1,330 cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease in Florida residents. The number of cases in Volusia County rose to 18, with nine being travel-related. 156 Volusia residents were tested, with 131 testing negative, 16 testing positive and nine results pending.
For our previous coverage, click here.
UPDATE 4 p.m. March 24:
More news from local businesses
In a fluid situation that changes daily, if not hourly, businesses and other organizations continue to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the governor’s ban on dining-in service at restaurants, many have implemented or boosted their carry-out service.
DeLand Natural Deli is offering curb-side pickup service for orders from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. every day but Saturday, when it is closed. The deli is inside DeLand Natural Market, 9033 N. Woodland Blvd. Check out the menu at delandnatuiralmarket.com, then call 386-736-7919 to place an order.
The Elusive Grape is open for several hours a day for people wanting to pick up food to carry out, as well as other retail sales. Owner Bill Budzinski said he is expecting to increase the list of artisanal cheeses that will be available to-go, depending on what his suppliers can provide. Go to elusivegrape.com to see the menu; call 386-785-24567 to confirm hours and place an order.
Walgreens Pharmacy has introduced new policies to help senior customers. Every Tuesday, 8 a.m.-9 a.m. is devoted to seniors who must come to the store, according to a release. Its pharmacists are calling seniors to check in and offer support, and providing advice for medications for various symptoms
Also at Walgreens, eligible prescriptions can be delivered for free, and shopping for essentials can be done during regular store hours at the stores’ drive-throughs.
According to a release on the company’s website, CVS Health is awarding bonuses to employees who are required to be at CVS facilities to assist patients and customers as the country faces the COVID-19 pandemic. Bonuses will range from $150 to $500 and will be awarded to pharmacists and certain other health care professionals on the frontlines, store associates and managers, and other site-based hourly employees.
The website release says CVS Health also plans to immediately fill 50,000 full-time, part-time and temporary roles across the country. Roles include store associates, home delivery drivers, distribution center employees and member/customer service professionals. The company will utilize a technology-enabled hiring process that includes virtual job fairs, virtual interviews and virtual job tryouts.
— Joe Crews
UPDATE 11 a.m. March 24:
Governor orders some travelers to self-isolate
On March 23, Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order directing all persons whose point of departure originates from outside Florida in an area with substantial community spread — including the New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey and New York) — and entering Florida through airports, to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into the state or for the duration of the person’s presence in Florida, whichever is shorter.
“This Order shall not apply to persons employed by the airlines and those performing military, emergency or health response,” the order states in part. “This Order shall take effect on March 24, 2020, at 12:01 a.m.”
The order also says anyone isolating or quarantining under this order shall pay all their own costs “associated with that person’s isolation or quarantine, including transportation, lodging, food, medical care and any other expenses to sustain the person during the period of isolation or quarantine.”
— Joe Crews
UPDATE 10:30 a.m. March 24:
Hospitals tighten visitation policies
All West Volusia hospitals — two in the AdventHealth chain and Halifax Health [ UF Health Medical Center of Deltona — have tightened their visitation policies.
A Halifax Health news release March 23 stated that effective March 25, most visits to patients are no longer allowed, with some conditions. Patients under 18 are allowed one adult visitor, and obstetric patients and patients in the neonatal intensive care unit may have one adult visitor. Exceptions will be made for extenuating circumstances, such as end-of-life or unique patient needs.
Also, as of March 23, no visitors for socialization purposes are allowed inside AdventHealth hospitals in Central Florida, including AdventHealth DeLand and AdventHealth Fish Memorial in Orange City..Visitation will be continued for special circumstances, such as if the visitor is the power-of-attorney or medical decision-maker. Visitation will also be permitted in end-of-life situations.
Other guidelines include that, as at Halifax hospitals, patients under 18 may have one adult visitor, as may obstetric patients. Exceptions will be made for extenuating circumstances, such as imminent end-of-life or unique patient needs for support.
In all circumstances, visitors who are sick will not be permitted to enter any AdventHealth hospital unless they are seeking medical care for themselves.
— Joe Crews
UPDATE 4 p.m. March 23:
More details on DeLand City Hall's closure, from city spokesman Chris Graham
To prevent further spread of COVID-19, access to all city offices will be restricted to appointment only beginning Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
Appointments may be made by the public in certain extenuating circumstances when business cannot be conducted online or telephonically.
Members of the public are asked to please contact the department over the phone or email in advance prior to coming to a city facility.
Phone numbers for Utility Billing, Utility Account Setup, and Permitting are listed below. We are still conducting business and our Customer Service Representatives are here to assist you with your needs.
Call: Utility Billing hotline at (386) 626-7051
Online payments: https://webutilities.deland.org
In person payment: Drop boxes located outside City Hall
For drop box, it is recommended that customers pay with cashier check, money order, or check
Community Development (Planning, Building, Permitting)
Online Permitting: https://aca3/accela.com/deland/Default.aspx
Planning – Carole Thomas – firstname.lastname@example.org (386)626-7016
Building – Dustin Kalmbach – email@example.com (386)626-7010
Economic Development – Nick Conte firstname.lastname@example.org (386)626-7021
Code Enforcement – Heydee Quinones email@example.com (386)626-7037
For other matters, visit our city webpage at www.deland.org for a full listing of telephone numbers and email addresses.
For all non-emergency incidents, the DeLand Police Department has launched an Online Incident Reporting System.
By utilizing Online Reporting, you can...
Contact the DeLand Police Department
Maintain social distance and help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19/coronavirus
Receive an automated e-mail receipt and reference number
Be contacted by a police officer regarding your submission
To submit an online report, click here.
If you are reporting an emergency or a crime in progress do not use this online webform and DIAL 911 immediately.
The DeLand Fire Department is restricting public access to its facilities. If residents need assistance of a firefighter for a medical emergency, please call 911 or if you come to a fire station in the city, please ring the doorbell, stand clear of the door and someone will assist you.
UPDATE 2 p.m. March 23:
DeLand city hall closes to public tomorrow
As of Tuesday, March 24, 2020, City Hall will be closed to the general public.
We request that all permit submittals, inspection request, Business Tax Receipts, zoning verification letters, planning applications and payments be done via our online permitting system or by phone. If you cannot submit electronically, we have placed a drop box at the front door of City Hall for you to place your permit and submittal packages.
Check payments may be dropped in the Utility Billing drop box located outside of City Hall. All check payments must be in a sealed envelope with the applicable permit number and project address written on the outside of the envelope.
If you need to pick up a permit that has been approved, please call and provide us with the permit number and address and will bring it to your vehicle. Please park in the space in front of City Hall on New York Ave.
— Deborah Glick, City of DeLand
UPDATE 11:30 a.m. March 23:
Schools to offer free meals
From Kelly Schulz, Volusia County Schools spokeswoman:
Volusia County Schools will be providing FREE breakfast and lunch meals for its students during the extended school closure period from March 23 through March 27, 2020.
Meals will be available for pick-up between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in the parent loop of each school site listed below. Students must be present. District staff will distribute the meals directly to those in their vehicles (drive-thru service) upon arrival.
In addition, district staff will hand-out meals directly to any walkers and/or bike riders that may lack motor-vehicle transportation. There will not be any public access to the school buildings during this time period. The following sites have been established as follows:
DeBary area School
DeBary Elementary – 88 West Highbanks Road, DeBary, FL 32713
Pierson/DeLeon Springs area Schools
Taylor Middle/High School - 100 East Washington Avenue, Pierson, FL 32180
McInnis Elementary School - 5175 US Highway 17, DeLeon Springs, FL 32130
DeLand area Schools
Citrus Grove Elementary School - 729 Hazen Road, DeLand, Fl 32720
DeLand High School - 800 North Hill Avenue, DeLand, FL 32724
Starke Elementary School - 730 South Parsons Avenue, DeLand, FL 32720
Southwestern Middle School - 605 West New Hampshire Avenue, DeLand, FL 32720
Freedom Elementary School - 1395 S. Blue Lake Avenue, DeLand, FL 32724
Volusia Pines Elementary School - 500 Kicklighter Road, Lake Helen, FL 32744
Orange City area Schools
Orange City Elementary School - 555 East University Avenue, Orange City, FL 32763
River Springs Middle School - 900 W. Ohio Avenue, Orange City, FL 32763
Deltona area Schools
Galaxy Middle School - 2400 Eustace Avenue, Deltona, FL 32725
Spirit Elementary School- 1500 Meadowlark Drive, Deltona, FL 32725
Pride Elementary School - 1100 Learning Lane, Deltona, FL 32738
Deltona Middle School - 250 Enterprise Road, Deltona, FL 32725
Osteen Elementary School - 500 Doyle Road, Osteen, FL 32764
UPDATE 11:15 a.m. March 23:
Florida will close its state parks effective Monday, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.
"At the direction of Governor DeSantis and to successfully uphold CDC guidance to maximize social distancing and avoid gatherings larger than 10 people, DEP will close all Florida State Parks to the public effective Monday, March 23," a statement from the agency reads.
In addition, the City of Deltona announced that its city parks will close effective noon Monday.
UPDATE 11 a.m. March 23:
Local grocery stores tweak hours, restaurants change ways of doing business
On March 20, Winn-Dixie updated its closing time to 8 p.m. every night, according to an email message sent to customers.
“This change will give associates the time needed to restock and ensure stores are able to conduct additional sanitation procedures. We will continue to dedicate 8-9 a.m. Monday through Friday for seniors and those most at risk. Additionally, all pharmacy locations will now open at 8 a.m. on weekdays to provide prescription refills, influenza and pneumonia vaccines, and customer counseling.”
One bright spot: Winn-Dixie also is hiring, according to the same message.
“Due to the impact of COVID-19 on hospitality and restaurant industries, we are hiring additional associates to be neighborhood heroes in serving customers and communities. We are offering positions to individuals throughout the Southeast who have been affected by restricted working hours as a result of mandated store and restaurant closures. If you are interested in applying, visit your local Winn‑Dixie or segrocers.com/careers.
Target stores also are getting new closing hours, according to a post on target.com from Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell:
“We’ll reduce hours and close all stores by 9 p.m. daily. This will help us as we replenish and deeply clean our stores for our guests. And it builds on measures we shared earlier this month, including enhanced cleaning and more staffing for in-demand services that support social distancing, like Order Pickup and Drive Up.
“We’ll also reserve the first hour of shopping each Wednesday to support vulnerable guests, including the elderly and those with underlying health concerns.”
Dollar General is taking similar actions. From a post on dollargeneral.com on March 16:
“Dollar General is strongly encouraging that the first hour of operations each day be dedicated solely for the shopping needs of senior customers, who are one of the groups most vulnerable to the COVID-19 coronavirus. … Dollar General wants to provide these at-risk customers with the ability to purchase the items they need and want at the beginning of each day to avoid busier and more crowded shopping periods.
“Other customers are encouraged to plan their shopping trips around this window of time to allow the most susceptible customers in our communities the ability to shop during the first hour that stores are open.
“Additionally, all stores plan to close one hour earlier than current close times to allow employees to clean and re-stock store shelves, as well as for their health and wellbeing. Stores will continue to maintain current opening hours.”
Restaurants were forced to close their on-site dining options altogether, per an executive order from Gov. DeSantis. Some, if they were able to stay open at all, went to carry-out and drive-through operations only at their restaurants, with some offering delivery through any of various services, such as Uber Eats or GrubHub.
Cress restaurant on West Indiana Avenue, The Table on East New York Avenue and the Elusive Grape on North Woodland Boulevard are among the local eateries promoting to-go menus. (The Grape’s to-go menu is more limited than the other two.)
While on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages has been banned by the governor, the Elusive Grape is open several days a week for retail wine sales and will implement wine deliveries by mid-week. The Abbey Bar, also on North Woodland, is filling customers’ growlers of beer to go between 4 and 7 p.m. Persimmon Hollow Brewing Co. on West Georgia Avenue is open from noon to 8 p.m. for package sales. (Details at persimmonhollowbrewing.com.)
UPDATE 11 a.m. March 23:
Scammers, profiteers told to beware
Florida’s three United States Attorneys announced March 19 that they have joined with Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody to warn that they will vigorously pursue anyone trying to capitalize on the coronavirus pandemic by cheating Florida consumers, especially the state’s vulnerable elders.
The federal law enforcement team is now actively collaborating and cooperating with the state’s top prosecutor team in a concerted effort to stop the scams relating to coronavirus, according to a news release.
The state’s top prosecutors at the federal and state levels said they are committed to remaining vigilant in preventing, pursuing, prosecuting, and punishing individuals and businesses that try to take advantage of the crisis for personal profit. They emphasized the importance of this effort in light of Florida’s large elderly population and reports of everything from bogus COVID-19 “cures” to phishing scams that purport to be official government health websites.
Earlier last week, Moody had issued a strong consumer alert urging the public to beware of potential coronavirus scams when researching information about COVID-19.
“Floridians are eager for any meaningful guidance they can find about coronavirus, but they must be careful not to believe everything they hear,” Moody said in the release. “Scammers are expert at taking advantage of such emotions, but we cannot and will not let them succeed.”
The prosecutors’ warning comes on the heels of U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s directive for all United States Attorneys nationwide to place a high priority on stopping scam artists trying to take advantage of the coronavirus situation.
UPDATE 2:30 p.m. March 20:
— From the Governor's Press Office
UPDATE 12:50 p.m. March 20:
Deadline extended for Section 8 applicants
Volusia County residents who applied for the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Program through the county are asked to contact the county’s Community Assistance Division to update their information.
Pre-application status verification forms were mailed to the 651 residents on the waiting list on March 17. The deadline for applicants to complete the form and return it to Community Assistance has been extended to May 1. If applicants do not respond by the deadline, they will be removed from the waiting list.
Preference will be given to individuals and families with a disabled adult who is homeless or at risk of being homeless. Households that meet this criteria should submit documentation, such as the benefit award from Social Security Administration or documentation from a medical professional.
For more information, call 386-736-5955 or Section8wl@volusia.org.
Volusia County is not accepting new Section 8 applications at this time. The last time the waiting list was opened was in November 2018.
The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a federally funded rental assistance program designed to help very-low-income families, the elderly and disabled to obtain decent, safe and sanitary housing at an affordable price in the private market. Participants are free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program.
— Volusia County Community Information
UPDATE 2:15 p.m. March 19:
All 14 Volusia County libraries are set to close to the public starting Sunday, March 22. According to the release, the library system is transitioning into online, telephone, and curbside services. Due dates for library materials have been extended to May 1, and all outstanding library fees have been suspended. Next week, the children's story time program will be streamed live on Facebook.
UPDATE 12:00 p.m., March 19:
According to an e-mail sent out by Stetson University President Wendy Libby, the college has postponed their mid-May graduation ceremonies for the class of 2020 until further notice.
All honors and award receptions have also been postponed. There are currently around 300 students remaining on campus, according to the university.
UPDATE 11:15 a.m. DeLand to institute curbside pickup for Downtown businesses
In an effort to support Downtown DeLand businesses, the City of DeLand in partnership with MainStreet DeLand Association will be implementing a temporary curbside service program.
As community members, restaurants and businesses across the state adapt to restrictions in place to ward off the spread of the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, the curbside program will help retail shops and restaurants in Downtown DeLand maintain business while also conforming to social distancing guidelines and minimizing people’s exposure to the virus.
“We understand our businesses are going to struggle during this uncertain time,” Mayor Bob Apgar said. “The city is committed to doing whatever we can to help them. While this program focuses on the downtown area, I encourage our residents to continue supporting all of our city’s businesses in the weeks and months ahead. The curbside program was an idea suggested by a local business owner. The city is willing to consider any other community ideas that may help our businesses.”
Signs will be put in place by the end of the week designating 14 parallel parking spots on Woodland Boulevard between Church Street and Howry Avenue as curbside pickup for restaurants and businesses. Four designated parallel parking spots will be located in the 100 block of East and West Rich Avenue and three parallel parking spots in the 100 block of East and West Indiana Avenue
While the business model will vary, patrons will be able to order ahead, pay over the phone or in person and then pickup their order or have it delivered to their car. We ask that people adhere to the five minute pickup window for these spots.
In the coming days, the city will also be working with its community partners to provide a list of businesses in operation, though the situation is evolving. People should check with individual businesses to ensure they are in operation.
— Chris Graham, City of DeLand
UPDATE 11:15 a.m. Marine Science Center to close:
Marine Science Center to close to visitors
The Marine Science Center is one of Volusia County’s most popular destinations for tourists and residents alike. Because the small exhibit hall is often filled to the gills with visitors, county officials decided to close the center to visitors at 4 p.m. March 19 until further notice.
The decision was made because staff will be unable to abide by the new social distancing requirements associated with the coronavirus threat in such a small space.
Employees will continue to work seven days a week to care for the sick and injured turtles and seabirds in their care. They will also accept new animals.
Residents who find a sick or injured turtle or seabird can call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 888-404-FWCC or the Marine Science Center at 386-304-5545 for instructions.
For more information about the Marine Science Center, visit www.marinesciencecenter.com.
— Volusia County Community Information