This afternoon, the President declared a national state of emergency, freeing up federal funding for the states to use in response to the crisis, and enabling them to tap into $42.6 billion that could be applied to tests, medical facilities, and other supplies.
Also this afternoon, Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran instructed all Florida public school districts to extend their spring breaks by an extra week. This means Alachua County Public Schools will be closed from March 16th through March 27th. Currently the plan is to reopen schools on March 30th following deep cleaning of both schools and school buses. All employees are to report March 16. For information on when meals will be provided, visit the Alachua County School Board's website.
In the wake of the developments around the COVID-19 virus, your Chamber is taking steps to help you keep your business, your team and your family safe. To that end, we have decided it is in your best interest for us to postpone all events throughout the remainder of March. As we learn more, we will update you if and as needed regarding dates beyond that point.
Also, the Chamber has created landing page, gainesvillechamber.com/COVID19, where you will find all of the latest official health, business and general information:
Here are steps you can take now:
Speak up if your business is affected. The Florida Business Damage Assessment Survey is a tool used to determine the need for business assistance in response to a disaster. With proper reporting, the state of Florida can activate this vital program providing up to $2 million to help eligible small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and most private nonprofit organizations meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met should the pandemic not have occurred. In order to make the loan program available, states must make a request based on the need for a disaster declaration. Once a disaster is granted, the U.S. Small Business Administration will make the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program funding available. Take the survey here:
Know when school reopen. The Alachua County School Board is providing regular updates on the status of schools in the County. Currently, schools will be closed March 16 through 27th. To find out if and when this changes, check the School Board’s website.
Know Where COVID-19 is spreading. The Florida Department of Health is providing real-time information on rates and location of infection. Check this site to know if there is an uptick in COVID-19 spreading in your area.