Dear Orange County Family,

Today, the majority of the state will move into phase two of the reopening plan, which will allow movie theaters, bars, nightclubs, bowling alleys and concert venues to operate at 50 percent capacity. In addition, restaurants, fitness centers, gyms and retail stores can operate at 50 percent capacity. People can also begin gathering in groups of 50 or less.

As we move into the next phase of reopening our community, we must continue to exercise caution in order to have effective long-term success. For employees coming into various worksites, wear a mask if you are interacting with the public and/or other staff in close proximity and continue to practice social distancing whenever possible. We have cloth masks for every employee, and your department representative will ensure you receive them, along with hand sanitizer, when you return to work.

If you would like to make a safe and sustainable cloth mask from reusable materials, check out this video and instructions created by Jeff Benavides, Orange County Chief Sustainability and Resilience Officer.

Orange County Government has received federal CARES Act funding, which will be distributed into our community. Approximately $36.5 million has been allocated for the Individual and Family Assistance Program , which will provide a one-time payment of $1,000 per household for residents affected by COVID-19. These funds will help bridge financial gaps for overdue rent, mortgage, medical bills or eligible utility expense. If you or your family are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19, review the eligibility criteria and required documents to ensure you are ready to apply when the application opens on Monday, June 8, 2020.

Another $36.5 million has been allocated for direct assistance to social service agencies to expand funding for Orange County partner nonprofits. These organizations will work directly with the County to provide continuity of service for residents seeking assistance with homelessness, mental health, substance abuse, access to food pantries, job retention and child care.

In addition, the County’s Small Business Grant Program will distribute $72.9 million to small businesses ($10,000 per business) to help them overcome the temporary loss of revenue due to COVID-19. More information on these programs can be found at ocfl.net/OrangeCares .

Time and time again, I am in awe by the generosity of our partners, who are always willing to lend a hand to a neighbor, coworker and even the community as a whole. For example, OneBlood hosted a blood drive at the Orange County Administration building this past Wednesday. I am happy to report all available appointments were quickly filled. Donating blood is an incredible gift that truly saves lives, and we are thankful to OneBlood for its generous efforts.

Speaking of generosity, Orange County Government’s United Workplace Giving Campaign officially kicked off on Wednesday. As a County employee, you know the critical role our organization plays in not only providing services to our residents, but also helping those who need it most. That is why we continue to partner with Heart of Florida United Way and support its mission to fight for the education, health and financial stability of every person in Central Florida. As we all continue to navigate the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, United Way is more essential than ever. If you are in a position to do so, please consider donating. You have two options to give – complete a pledge card and submit it to your department representative or submit one online with the User ID OrangeCounty1 and password 32801. Pledge cards are due by Friday, August 7, 2020.

In light of recent occurrences (both national and local) surrounding the death of George Floyd, I want to acknowledge we have a systemic problem with racism in America, and it is my solemn commitment to work with community leaders in addressing this serious issue.

I support and applaud peaceful and thoughtful protests. I stand with law enforcement leaders who have called for change and are against the unjustified use of force. We must be unified and have respect for one another, especially during this time of a pandemic.

As a former police chief and sheriff, lawlessness is not the answer. I will be working with local leaders, clergy and law enforcement to develop both long-term and short-term strategies to address the myriad of issues facing our society.

On that note, I would like to invite you to participate in a virtual Town Hall Meeting today, June 5, 2020, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. The meeting will serve as a forum for local leaders to engage the community, and the discussion will be focused on seeking solutions to bridge the gap between law enforcement and community members. For more information or to join, visit www.ocfl.net/MLK .

Thank you again for your dedication, hard work and generosity, even during the most challenging times. I encourage you to watch our news conferences and visit the COVID-19 Employee Resource page for the latest updates and information.
Jerry L. Demings, Orange County Mayor signature