Category: Uncategorized

1st Polk County Death from Coronavirus

On March 28th, a 60-year-old Polk resident diagnosed with COVID-19 passed
away. This is the first COVID-19 death in Polk County.

We express our sincere condolences to the person’s family and will continue to
work with the Department of Health (DOH) and our community partners to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Positive cases and fatalities are reported by DOH twice a day, around 11 p.m. and 6 p.m., on the DOH Dashboard. Please visit the DOH COVID-19 website at:

Here, you can find the DOH-Dashboard and other important information regarding COVID-19.

Follow us on Twitter for updates at @FLHealthPolk.

Hillsborough County man charged with armed burglary and kidnapping

On Friday, March 27, 2020, at approximately 12 p.m., the Hardee County
Sheriff’s Office received a call in reference to a possible burglary in
progress in the area of Ona, FL.

Deputies responded and made contact with the alleged victim/mother, who
claimed her ex-boyfriend, Brian Rodriguez, abducted their two young children.

Upon further investigation, the victim relayed she heard a noise at the front
door, and going to investigate, she saw the father of her children trying to
enter the home. According to the victim, Brian Rodriguez threatened her and
fearing for her safety and that of her children, she allowed him in. Reports
state the suspect lifted his shirt, exposed a firearm, and gained entry to the
master bedroom where the children were sleeping. Reports reflect the children
were placed in a black Lincoln Navigator SUV and left in an unknown direction
of travel.

Hardee County Sheriff’s Office deputies and investigators canvased the area in
an attempt to locate the vehicle. A Be On the Lookout’ (BOLO) was issued to
surrounding law enforcement agencies and information was provided to Florida
Department of Law Enforcement, wherein an Amber Alert was issued.

Investigation revealed the suspect’s last known address was in Valrico, FL.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office was contacted and provided with the
information resulting in the apprehension of Brian Rodriguez.

Rodriguez was arrested on Hardee County warrants for armed burglary, two
counts of kidnapping and was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail where he
is currently being held without bond.

In a collaborative effort the Hardee County Sheriff’s Office, Florida
Department of Law Enforcement and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
successfully apprehended the suspect without incident and returned the
children safely to their mother.

City of Fort Meade COVID-19 Update

Agency: City of Fort Meade
Date of Submittal: March 25, 2020

**This was courtesy of the City of Fort Meade website**

1.  State of Emergency: The City of Fort Meade made a local state of emergency declaration on March 24, 2020, with adoption of Resolution # 20-05.

2.  Office closures or changes in business hours: 

The Fort Meade Community Center has cancelled all special events and rentals for at least the next 30 days.  At this location, there is also a Senior Program run by the Mid Florida Community Action Agency that will be suspended on March 23rd for at least the next 14 days thereafter.  This action will be re-evaluated as seniors are a vulnerable population.  The Community Center closed on March 23, but employees still report to work as usual.

The Fort Meade Public Library has cancelled all special events and classes for the next 30 days.  The Library closed on March 23, but employees still report to work as usual. 

The Fort Meade Mobile Home Park Activity Center has cancelled all special events and rentals for at least the next 30 days.  This facility is not open to the general public.  

The Fort Meade Historical Museum has cancelled all special events and has closed the museum to the general public until April 6th.  

City Hall, Building & Code Enforcement, and Public Works Compound have all been closed to the public on March 23.  However, employees still report to work as usual.  Utility Late fees and service disconnects have been suspended.  SMART call automated system has been in effect for several days.  It gives all registered users a personal phone call with service alerts.  Two drop box locations are available for utility payment by check and money order, no cash.  A drop box for building permits has also been set up.  All vendors are now prohibited from entering the Office at the Public Works Compound. 

The Fort Meade Fire Station is not open to the general public.  The Fire Station operates in an on-call basis and responds to emergency calls for service.  Thus, there will be no change in operation.

The Child Development Center on Broadway and the East Coast Migrant (Head Start) on Lanier have closed till at least April 15th.  Both of these services operate in City owned buildings.

Parks stillremain open to the public; however, all rentals through the month of April have been cancelled at all locations.

Cemetery – We have 2 city cemeteries.  Both are following limits on social distance and we have been in touch with local funeral homes. 

3.  Fire/Law Enforcement PPE status:

Figure out your daily burn rate on PPE (respirators, gloves, etc.) to find out your total supply.  Five day or less supply is considered critical on required supplies/equipment for COVID-19. Before supplies reach critical level, contact Billy Abernathy with Polk County Emergency Management by phone at 863-298-7001.

Our Fire Chief Roc Eiland reports that the City of Fort Meade is still waiting on a back order of gloves, masks, and alcohol for sanitation purposes. 

Law Enforcement is provided under contract with Polk County Sheriff Office.

 4.  Have any policies been enacted to cancel events and services?

            See responses listed under Question #2 and below.

On the March 24, 2020, Commission meeting we adopted an emergency Ordinance #2020-07 that meets Governor Executive Order # 20-69.  All future public meetings will be by telephonic and electronic means during this emergency.

5.  General summary of protective actions (only a few sentences):

Employees are limiting social contact. 

Submitted by:  Danielle J. Judd, City Manager

Polk County BoCc closes parks; recreational buildings in response to coronavirus

Polk County Government is doing everything it can to protect the health and safety of our residents, employees and guests from the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This is an uncertain time in our country and we are all in this together. The entire nation is being asked to take some extreme measures for a period of time to slow the growth of the coronavirus.

The Board of County Commissioners also wants to provide as many services as we can; however, we now find it necessary to close many of our facilities to public access and counter transactions until a time to be determined.

Effective at sunset today, Saturday March 21, all county parks and natural resource facilities will be closed until further notice. This includes parks with playgrounds and recreational leagues, environmental lands and trails such as Fort Frasier, campgrounds, dog parks, the shooting range, History Center, Circle B Bar Reserve, Bone Valley ATV Park, Homeland Heritage Park and our resource centers.

Beginning Monday, all county facilities will be closed to public walk-in transactions. This includes the County Administration Building, Frank Smith Building on Golfview Avenue in Bartow, Indigent Healthcare offices, Utilities Administration, Gil Jones and Lakeland branch facilities. These facilities will be closed to the public until further notice.

Polk County government will remain available for business to customers through our website for services that include bill payments, development review and permitting. Customers may also mail payments or applications or call for more information.

Residential garbage collection will continue as scheduled. The landfill will also remain open; however, customers coming to the landfill should anticipate delays in service due to increased traffic as we practice social distancing measures.

Polk County thanks you for your patience and understanding during this critical time in our country.

Governor Ron DeSantis Announces First Two Emergency Bridge Loans for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has approved the first two Small Business Emergency Bridge Loans to businesses impacted by COVID-19. Daniel and Tracey Shrine, owners of Full Press Apparel, and Angelo and Kimberly Crowell, owners of Jersey Mike’s Subs, both in Tallahassee, Florida, are receiving the loans in an unprecedented, short three-day review process after the loan program was activated on Monday, March 19. The bridge loan program, managed by DEO, provides short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced economic injury from COVID-19.

“The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan is designed to get cash into the hands of small businesses so they can keep their doors open during a crisis,” said Governor DeSantis. “I am pleased to be able to provide our first loans to the small business owners who are in a tough time through no fault of their own. I look forward to other businesses following suit.”

DEO administers the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation to provide cash flow to businesses economically impacted by COVID-19. The short-term, interest-free loans help bridge the gap between the time the economic impact occurred and when a business secures other financial resources, including payment of insurance claims or longer-term Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. Up to $50 million has been allocated for the program.

“We appreciate Governor DeSantis keeping small businesses as a priority during this difficult time,” said Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Ken Lawson. “Providing support to small businesses throughout our state will help to expedite our recovery. We appreciate our partners at the Florida SBDC Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation who helped us review, approve and provide these loans in a record amount of time.”

Small business owners with two to 100 employees located in Florida affected by COVID-19 can apply for short-term loans up to $50,000. These loans are interest-free for up to one year and are designed to bridge the gap to either federal SBA loans or commercially available loans. DEO will work with every borrower to ensure that repayment of the loan isn’t an overwhelming burden. To be eligible, a business must have been established prior to March 9, 2020, and demonstrate economic impacts as a result of COVID-19. The application period ends May 8, 2020. Businesses can apply at FloridaDisaster.BIZ. .

DEO is currently surveying businesses throughout the state of Florida that have been impacted by COVID-19. Businesses and non-profits can access the Business Damage Assessment survey at FloridaDisaster.BIZ Select “COVID-19” from the drop-down menu on the survey page. Response to the Business Damage Assessment survey is not an application for assistance. Businesses interested in the bridge loan program must fill out a bridge loan application.

Executive order concerning restaurants, gymnasiums and health centers

Today, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-71, directing all restaurants and food establishments within the State of Florida to suspend on-premises food and alcohol consumption for customers. The listed establishments may, however, operate their kitchens for the purpose of providing delivery or take-out services.

This Executive Order lifts the restriction that prohibits a specially licensed food service establishment from selling package sales of alcohol for delivery, take-out or consumption off-premises for restaurants complying with Executive Order 20-68, through the expiration of the state of emergency declared in Executive Order 20-52. Alcohol sales to go with food that is pick-up or delivered will be permitted and I.D. will be required for orders including alcohol.

Additionally, the Executive Order requires the closures of gymnasiums and fitness centers within the State of Florida. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) shall utilize its authorities under Florida law to further implement and enforce the provisions of this Executive Order and shall take additional measures as necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare.

Executive order regarding medical non – essential medical procedures

Today, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-72, regarding non-essential elective medical procedures. All hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, office surgery centers, dental, orthodontic and endodontic offices, and other health care practitioners’ offices in the state of Florida are prohibited from providing any medically unnecessary, non-urgent or non-emergency procedure or surgery which, if delayed, does not place a patients immediate health, safety or wellbeing at risk, or will, if delayed, not contribute to the worsening of a serious or life-threatening medical condition.

Fort Meade City Updates in Wake of Coronavirus

Phone call just received from City of Fort Meade
This message is from the City of Fort Meade the City of Fort Meade impacts as of today and for next 30 days.

The Fort Meade community center and the Fort Meade mobile home park activity center has canceled all special events and rentals with no change in operating hours.

The Fort Meade public library has canceled all special events and classes and will close to the public as of Monday, March 23

Fort Meade historical museum has canceled all special events and has close to the general public until April 6

City Hall building and code enforcement and Public Works compound will continue with their normal operating hours and services at this point City Hall services and utilities will continue to operate as usual payment drop boxes are located at the entrance of City Hall and across from the post office city parks will remain open to the public.

Moonlight and Music Festival set for April 3 has been postponed please stay tuned for further updates…”

Classics Pizza Curbside Service to help with Social Distancing

Update on Covid19 pertaining to restaurants in the state of Florida: Restaurants are to serve at half capacity and we plan to abide by the rules! Sorry for any inconvenience, but we are concerned with the safety of our community! From this moment until further notice, we will not have the salad bar or buffet set up. We will have all of our other menu items available and are happy to serve you the best we can. In order to help with social distancing, we will offer curb side assistance so you don’t have to come inside of the establishment. When you place your take out order, just make sure that you let the cashier know that you want your food brought out to your vehicle and we will do our best to serve you. Thank you for your patience during these difficult times. Continue to pray for all that are being affected by Covid19.

You can request curbside take out!
Call 863-285-7827

Governor Ron DeSantis Issues an Executive Order Regarding Bars, Beaches and Restaurants

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis issued an Executive Order that will reduce density and crowds in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and beaches to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Bars and Nightclubs

Under the direction of Governor DeSantis, all bars and nightclubs throughout Florida will close for the next 30 days. Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) will be enforcing and providing further guidance.


The Governor is directing parties accessing public beaches in the state of Florida to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance by limiting their gatherings to no more than 10 persons.


Restaurants across the state of Florida will now be required to limit customer entry to 50 percent of capacity. Seating must be staggered and limited to ensure seated parties are separated by a distance of at least six feet, in accordance with CDC guidelines. Restaurants are encouraged to remain open and expand take-out and delivery services. Additional information will be provided by DBPR.