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Local response to COVID-19 - What you need to know 5/29

Post Date:03/19/2020 11:49 AM

COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing

The Florida Department of Health-Sarasota County is scheduled to host two COVID-19 drive-thru testing opportunities next week throughout Sarasota County.

COVID-19 testing at Venice Community Center 5.21.20This community-based COVID-19 testing is for anyone who is currently experiencing symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell) or who works in a healthcare setting.

All patients must have an appointment to be tested. To make an appointment, please call 941-861-2883. Callers will be screened using current CDC testing criteria. Appointments are limited however the department is evaluating community COVID-19 testing opportunities in the future.

While these are primarily drive-thru sites, DOH Sarasota can accommodate walk-ups, and people on bicycles.

✅ Mid-County: Tuesday, June 2, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., Laurel Civic Association, 509 Collins Rd., Laurel

✅ South County: Wednesday, June 3, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., Heron Creek Middle School, 6501 W. Price Blvd., North Port

Other Area COVID-19 Testing Sites

A state COVID-19 drive-thru testing site opened for Sarasota and Manatee Counties at the Mall at University Town Center in Sarasota for anyone 18 years or older regardless of symptoms, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Evaluations for COVID-19 testing are offered at Gulf Coast Medical Group Urgent Care, 1700 E. Venice Ave. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. When appropriate, testing will be done onsite.

Walk-up COVID-19 testing offered at the Robert L. Taylor Community Center, 1845 34th St., Sarasota, is for anyone regardless of symptoms, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

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Get the latest Heat Map from the Sarasota County Health Department, showing COVID-19 cases detected in the County, here. Please note that the number in the legend represents the number of confirmed resident cases in the County’s zip codes. 

See the latest COVID-19 Situation Report from the Florida Department of Health here.

The City of Venice Emergency Management is in daily conference calls with Sarasota County and the Department of Health. See the latest Emergency Management Flash Report here.

The Florida Department of Health has reported 622 coronavirus cases in Sarasota County as of May 29, and 77 deaths from the disease.

Visit the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard for additional updated information.

Check out the City of Venice's COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions page.

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Downtown Dining Expansion

On May 22, at the direction of City Council, Venice City Manager Ed Lavallee signed Executive Order 2020-09, stating that restaurants in the downtown business district may apply to the City to temporarily expand their outside dining laterally beyond the length of the public right-of-way or public property immediately adjacent to the subject property with the written consent of the adjacent, affected property owner. Businesses are required to maintain a 6-foot wide pedestrian walkway. 

The order also waives the requirement to obtain a permit for a temporary sign and the time limitations for temporary signs in the downtown business district.

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Short-term/Vacation Rental Plan OK'd

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Governor's Office has approved Sarasota County’s plan to allow vacation rentals in accordance with an Executive Order of the Governor. The plan includes recommendations that will help to ensure the health and safety of employees and guests and is effective starting Friday, May 22.

It includes guidance on reservations, guest safety, pets/assistance animals and recommendations for keeping properties clean and in compliance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Other topics address:

  • Personal protective equipment
  • Confirmed COVID-19 case notification
  • Maintaining distance at pools, beaches, entrances and exits.

Read the complete guidelines here: https://www.scgov.net/vacationrentalsplan

Governor's Phase 1 Plan

On May 15, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that gyms and fitness centers can reopen to the public on May 18 with up to 50% capacity and appropriate social distancing and sanitizing measures. Check with your gym to see if it is open.

Also included in what the Governor called "Full Phase 1" is increasing the indoor capacity of restaurants and retail stores from 25% to 50% statewide. Read what's allowed here.

Barbershops, hair salons and nail salons with enhanced safety protocols opened May 11.

Elective surgeries have resumed.

Here is what remains the same in Florida:

  • Vulnerable individuals, including the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, should avoid close contact with people outside the home
  • People should continue to avoid groups of 10 or more, practice social distancing, and use face masks in public when they can’t maintain 6 feet from others
  • Bars and movie theaters will remain closed
  • Schools will continue distance learning
  • Visits to senior living facilities are prohibited

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Virtual Meetings

NOTE: On May 26, City Council voted to postpone in-person meetings at City Hall until after the summer break (resuming 2nd week of August). 

Scheduled Virtual Advisory Board Meetings:

5/29: Stormwater Utility Rate and Water Quality Stakeholders Work Group, 1 p.m. Here are instructions to participate.

6/1: Planning Commission Workshop, 1:30 p.m. Here are instructions to participate.

6/2: Planning Commission Meeting, 1:30 p.m. Here are instructions to participate.

Venice City Hall has gone digital with public hearing notices. In light of recent changes that limit public access to City Hall, public notices that would typically be posted on the bulletin boards in City Hall are now available on this website. Under the “Government” tab on the homepage, select “City Clerk,” then “Public Notices.” When you select this page, you will find current public notices that have been posted. 

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Beaches and Parks

In partnership with Sarasota County, which reopened all dog parks in the County on May 11, the Brohard Paw Park in the City of Venice has reopened to dogs and their owners. This reopening includes the fenced-in play area and the dog beach. A reminder to please pick up after your pet. Waste bags are provided at the Paw Park. 

Humphris Park and the South Jetty point, Jetty Jack's concessions at the South Jetty, and the Venice Fishing Pier also reopened to the public May 11.

SouthJetty2017

Visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines and posted rules at all these locations. Please maintain a 6-foot distance from others and limit groups to 10 or fewer. These locations will be patrolled by law enforcement. Your cooperation is appreciated.

Sarasota County announced May 26 that all outdoor courts including basketball, volleyball and shuffleboard will reopen May 30. This includes Hecksher Park in Venice. 

Fishing Pier anglers Feb. 2020Playgrounds and the Centennial Park Interactive Children’s Fountain in the City of Venice will reopen in future phases.

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All beaches are open! Parking is available at Sarasota County-maintained and operated beaches, including beaches in the City of Venice, as of May 4. This includes Venice Beach, Brohard Beach (near Sharky's), Chauncy Howard Park, Maxine Barritt Park and Service Club Park.

Chairs, coolers and umbrellas are also allowed, but all beachgoers are asked to maintain social distancing and keep groups to 10 or less. Restrooms are open.

Concessions resumed at Venice Beach on May 8.

HecksherParkThe County opened outdoor pickleball and tennis courts to the public on May 2, including those at Hecksher Park and Wellfield Park in Venice. Chuck Reiter Park and Wellfield Park are also open for recreational use. Please observe the following guidelines and restrictions:
• One-hour maximum timeframe of use per match.
• Those waiting for the courts to open must remain 6 feet apart.
• Maintain social distancing in all areas off the courts and keep groups to 10 or less and 6 feet apart. All court activity and compliance will be monitored by Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources staff. 

Tournament play may resume June 14, pending submission/approval of reactivation plans. Local league play and ongoing reservations may resume June 1 with submission/approval of a reactivation plan.

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Watch PSA videos from Venice Mayor Ron Feinsod on: 

COVID-19 best practices

Reopening of Venice beaches and parking

Cancellation of the July 4th fireworks

Enforcement of the Governor's Executive Orders

Reopening of the Paw Park, South Jetty, and Fishing Pier

'Feed Venice' food drive on 5/30

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Food Trucks

On April 15, Venice City Manager Ed Lavallee signed Executive Order 2020-06, amending restrictions for certain Venice parks. Activities expressly authorized by the City Manager, such as food truck permits obtained through the City, will be allowed at Chuck Reiter, Hecksher and Wellfield parks.

On April 9, City Manager Ed Lavallee signed Executive Order 2020-05 allowing for food trucks licensed by the state to facilitate the safe provision of essential services to citizens in the City of Venice during the COVID-19 emergency.

Currently, Sharky’s has a food truck at Wellfield Park, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels truck is located across from Venice Regional Bayfront Health, and Dog E Bag hot dogs is at West Blalock Park. For inquiries about a temporary food truck permit, call 941-486-2626 and ask for the City Manager’s Office.

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Watch a PSA on first responder response from the City of Venice Fire Department.

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Gov. DeSantis issued 2 Executive Orders on April 2: One on a Re-employment Assistance Program, and another addressing COVID-19 Mortgage Foreclosure and Eviction Relief.

On April 6, Gov. DeSantis issued an Executive Order on suspension of taxes for SBA loans.

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On April 3, the CDC came out with new recommendations for citizens wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. The CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not N-95 masks. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Don't have a face covering? The CDC released a video showing how to make a face mask in 45 seconds. It's low-tech and uses items you have at home. Check it out here.

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Solid Waste

The City of Venice is working hard to protect our community. Currently, all garbage, recycling and yard waste collection will continue as usual; however, residents should take note of several important precautions that began April 6:

  • All residential garbage and recycling must be placed inside the correct automated cart for collection. For the safety of our staff, nothing placed outside of the cart will be collected at this time.
  • If you have additional garbage or items that will not fit in the cart, please save it for your next regularly scheduled pickup day, or contact Public Works to schedule a bulk collection. Bulk garbage and bulk yard waste will continue to be collected and must be scheduled by contacting the Public Works office at 941-486-2422.
  • Cardboard boxes should be broken down flat and placed into the blue recycling cart for collection. For cardboard that will not fit inside a recycling cart, public dumpsters for cardboard will be placed at the following two locations:

    1. The Venice Community Center, 300 S. Nokomis Ave., within the southern parking area.

    2. The intersection of Pinebrook Rd. and Lucaya Ave., to the east of Pinebrook Rd. near the croquet field entrance.

  • If your collection should get missed for some reason, please contact the Public Works office and staff will schedule a return trip within 24 hours.

Please contact Public Works at 941-486-2422 for any other solid waste or recycling questions. Learn more about how you can help protect Solid Waste workers here. We truly appreciate your cooperation and assistance during this challenging time.

Hazardous waste drop-off facilities in Sarasota County (a.k.a. the Chemical Collection Centers) will be reopening with limited access for hazardous waste disposal beginning Monday, May 18.
Residents and businesses must make an appointment in advance. “Walk-ups” will not be accepted.
Appointments are scheduled every 30 minutes and are available between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. at the following locations:
• 8750 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota (Monday-Saturday)
• 4010 Knights Trail Road, Nokomis (Monday-Saturday)
• 250 S. Jackson Road, Venice (Wednesday-Saturday)

Additional details about the program, including links to make an appointment, can be found at www.scgov.net/hazardouswaste.

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On March 25, the following playgrounds in the City of Venice were temporarily closed to the public, with posted signage, in an ongoing effort to slow the spread of COVID-19:

LegacyParkTrain12.6.17

  • East Gate Park
  • John Nolen Park
  • Legacy Park
  • Mundy Park
  • Prentiss French Park
  • Venezia Park
  • West Blalock Park swings
  • Venice Area Beautification Inc. (VABI) Building swings
  • Interactive Children's Fountain in Centennial Park

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On March 24, Florida Gov. DeSantis issued 2 additional executive orders related to the coronavirus:

Executive Order 20-82 directs all persons who enter the State of Florida from an area with substantial community spread, to include the New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey and New York), to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into the State of Florida or the duration of the person’s presence in the State of Florida, whichever is shorter.

Executive Order 20-83 directs the State Surgeon General and State Health Officer to issue a public health advisory to all persons over 65 years of age urging them to stay home and to take such other measures as necessary to limit their risk of exposure to COVID-19.
 
The Local State of Emergency signed by Venice City Manager Ed Lavallee on March 16, 2020, was extended on March 23 for a period of 7 days, then extended again on Monday, March 30. This latest order will automatically renew every 7 days until the order is canceled.   

 

Closed Sign at City Hall 3.23.20The City of Venice has temporarily closed all its buildings to the public effective March 23, but will remain staffed. This includes City Hall, Public Works, Utilities, and the Airport administration office. Online services on this website include the ability for citizens to pay a utility bill or apply for a permitPeople can call the City’s main number at 941-486-2626 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and be directed to the department they need.

The Cashier’s Office at City Hall, 401 W. Venice Ave., has an outside drop box available for customers needing to drop off payments. It is located on the south side of City Hall, across from the fire station. A drop box has also been installed outside the Airport administration office at 150 Airport Ave. E. for customers. The Building Division is only accepting online permit applications at this time.  

The Venice Museum and the Julia Cousins Laning and Dale Laning Archives & Research Center have been closed to the public since March 16.

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If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms or otherwise feel ill, call the Sarasota County Health Department (COVID-19) call center at 941-861-2883 to check your symptoms. Subject matter experts are on duty 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. 

All residents and visitors are reminded to continue following guidelines from the Florida Department of Health (DOH) and Centers for Disease Control.

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The SCAT bus system is operating on a modified schedule. Fares are suspended for both fixed routes and SCAT Plus. Get more information here on current SCAT services.

The Sarasota Clerk of the Circuit Court and County Comptroller is urging the community to continue practicing social distancing by utilizing online services, pay-by-phone, or mail service.

The Sarasota County Tax Collector's Mid-County Service Center at 6100 Sawyer Loop Rd. reopened May 11 for limited driver’s license transactions that cannot be completed online. The office is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and appointments are required. Under a phased reopening plan, other Tax Collector locations will reopen as the need for in-person services increases.

Upon reopening, the following is required:
• Customers must be Sarasota County residents.
• An appointment must be scheduled in advance by calling 941-861-8300, option 2.
• Upon arrival, customers will be asked a series of health questions before entering the office. Anyone experiencing a fever or COVID-19 symptoms will have their appointment rescheduled.
• Only the person completing the transaction will be able to enter the office.
• A face covering is required for service.

Services such as driver’s license road tests and the learner’s permit test remain on hold until further notice. Transactions such as registration renewals and tax payments will continue to be completed online.

The Sarasota County Property Appraiser's Office has closed all three office locations to the public, but remains staffed. Online services, telephone operations, electronic and physical mail will remain available and reviewed by property appraiser staff. 

Reminders about additional local cancellations/closures: 

  • All special events in the City of Venice have been canceled through June 14. No new permits for special events are being issued at this time.
  • Sarasota County has canceled all special events and one-time reservations outdoors through June 14. This includes activities at the Venice Community Center. For more information, please email parksonline@scgov.net or call 941-861-(PARK) 7275. There are no administrative or cancellation fees for any reservations through June 30; full refunds will be processed. Tournament play may resume June 14, pending submission/approval of reactivation plans. Local league play and ongoing reservations may resume June 1 with submission/approval of a reactivation plan.
  • The July 4th fireworks show at the South Jetty is canceled.
  • Sarasota County Libraries are now offering curbside pickup for items that have been placed on hold by library cardholders. Staff will be contacting cardholders to schedule pickups when requested materials become available. Community members interested in placing holds on books, DVDs, audiobooks or other items can do so through the library’s website at scgov.net/library or by calling 941-861-1110. All due dates for materials have been extended until June 1. Library facilities remain closed at present.
  • The community can sign up to receive text alerts about Sarasota County updates related to COVID-19 by texting SRQCOVID19 to 888-777.
  • The City of Venice has temporarily suspended its Adopt-a-Park Volunteer Program and all other volunteer park programs that assemble groups of 10 or more people, until further notice.