It is hard to believe, but the month of May is nearly over. During June, we will continue to move toward slowly reopening throughout our community, keeping the safety of everyone at the forefront. I am grateful for the patience and support of County employees as we have endured the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past several weeks.

Despite the need to implement social distancing and extra precautionary measures, you have continued to provide excellent customer service by embracing technology and other unique methods. I continue to be immeasurably impressed by our employees’ unwavering commitment to keeping their co-workers safe while also keeping the safety and wellness of our residents in mind. Since March 23, we have had nearly 10,000 WebEx virtual meetings with nearly 40,000 participants, which has allowed us to conduct County business in a new way.

In addition to completing phase one of reopening in our community, we drastically increased testing over the past month with more than 60,000 individuals tested for coronavirus, and efforts to increase testing will continue. OneBlood will be at the Orange County Administration Building (201 S. Rosalind Avenue) for a blood drive on Wednesday, June 3, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will provide free COVID-19 antibody testing to all donors. Appointments are preferred and can be scheduled through OneBlood’s website (sponsor code: 9852).

Do you like saving money and being prepared? The end of May also means the start of hurricane season (June 1 – Nov. 30), and it is important to be prepared for potential storms. This weekend is a good time to put your disaster kit together because Florida’s disaster preparedness sales tax holiday (during which qualifying items related to disaster preparedness are exempt from sales tax) begins today and runs through Thursday, June 4, 2020.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health and wellness have also been top of mind, especially as we recognized Mental Health Awareness Month throughout May. I encourage employees to take advantage of the free resources available to them, including our Employee Assistance Program through GuidanceResources by ComPsych. I also urge employees and their spouses to participate in the 2020 Virtual Health Summit on June 19 and July 31. This year’s Summit is focused on mental health with the theme being “Finding Your Joy in Turbulent Times.” Registration and supervisor approval are required, and employees and/or spouses can earn up to 40 myOCWellness points by participating.

Staying positive during this difficult time can make a significant difference in the state of your mental health. County employees are always doing incredible things and making an impact on the lives of others. I would love to hear about some of the positive things happening throughout our departments. I encourage you to take a moment to complete this quick positivity survey so we can share your story and focus on staying positive together!

Speaking of mental health and positivity, I know the past few months have been especially challenging for those employees caring for children, as you have had to navigate distance learning while still juggling work responsibilities. With the school year officially over and Governor DeSantis’ approval to reopen summer camps and recreational activities, it is time to start planning for the next few months. And good news … County employees receive a discount for Orange County Regional History Center’s summer camps , which start Monday, June 1, and continue through Friday, August 7.

Please know your health and well-being remain a top priority. Thank you for all you do to ensure Orange County remains the best place to live, especially during times like this.
Jerry L. Demings, Orange County Mayor signature