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SRQ DAILY May 1, 2020

Friday Weekend Edition

Friday Weekend Edition

"I knew I wanted to combat the stigmas surrounding mental illness, but soon realized those are very broad topics."

- Samantha Zellner, Artist

[Artist]  A Portrait of the Artist in Isolation

The artist works alone. The artist may on occasion observe their solitude, but they do not wander into the despairing perception of loneliness. Alone by choice, the artist probes the creative ether that resides somewhere between the mind’s eye, the body’s state of tension and the hand’s contact with a canvas. Within this ether dwells the portrait of the artist, their tastes and predispositions, their desires and anxieties, surfacing from time to time like quantum particles to present ideas in varying stages of completion—a color palette, a mood, perhaps even flashes of a work in its entirety. For two New College art seniors putting the final touches on their senior theses, the isolation induced by COVID-19 has affirmed rather than hindered their journeys-in-progress, as each seeks to extract their own commentary on mental health issues enflamed by the pandemic.

For Samantha Zellner, the whole argument for her thesis crystallized around the same time that restaurants and schools shut down. “I knew I wanted to combat the stigmas surrounding mental illness,” she says, “but soon realized those are very broad topics.” With the pinch of approaching deadlines, she finally narrowed her topic to a reexamination of society’s “quick fix” approaches to mental illness. Zellner chose to challenge the “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” narrative often depicted in stereotypical motivational posters. The titles for her pieces all fit the codified format of said posters—a constructive character trait followed by a truism about that trait. “The quotes can present a helpful mantra,” she says, “or could invalidate the individual with mental illness.” She attacks this narrative particularly effectively with her painting, Character: When You Have Depth of Character, You Will Never be Afraid to Take the Plunge into the Unknown. The sharp protrusions in the foreground seem to offer a thorny passage through to an altered state, suggesting that perhaps overcoming an emotional hurdle is not as simple as a short maxim.

Miranda Chapman knows intimately what that thorny passage is like. “I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder seven years ago,” she says, “it’s hard for me to do things like talk on the phone, give presentations, make new friends, drive, et cetera.” For Chapman, her anxiety is a part of her creative ether, an ingredient that, in its abundance, helps fuel her prolific output. “There wasn’t any moment where I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do,” she says. Her art is a constructive outlet for the turbidity of her psyche, and as many find themselves newly saddled with anxieties arising from COVID-19, Chapman’s work has found an increasingly receptive audience. Her painting Fig. 1: Misery won this year’s juried exhibition at New College. The painting depicts a face in distress ensconced in a white fabric, with red tear-like drops clustering around its eyes. There is a tone of melancholy in the expression and a suggestion of tension in the white shroud, the absence of a foreground and background unmooring the figure from any sense of place.

And it’s that same displacement that many feel during the continued social distancing protocols. “I feel my work almost holds more relevance now in this time of uncertainty,” says Chapman. For Zellner, the universality of our isolation and anxiety can paradoxically help to engender greater empathy. “The COVID-19 pandemic has really brought forth this universal feeling of being isolated,” says Zellner, “but I think no matter how alone we feel, we can relate to each other through our struggles.”

Their work is part of New College’s “The Embodied Mind: A Thesis Exhibition,” which can be viewed online in an immersive virtual format through May 15. 

Pictured: Courtesy of Miranda Chapman and Samantha Zellner

Click to visit the virtual exhibition.

[Virtual Exhibit]  Ringling College of Art and Design Showcases the Best of Ringling

On Wednesday, May 6th, promptly at 5 pm EST, Best of Ringling will take over the Ringling College home page, honoring this year's award recipients, followed immediately by online gallery openings featuring the student work for each major. The Best of Ringling comprises work from all thirteen disciplines at Ringling College. Over a dozen jurors, well-known and respected professionals in their fields, participate in the vetting, selection, and awards process. These jurors also provide the criteria for selection and offer comment and critique for the students. In addition to the juried selections, some majors offer faculty or department awards and Dr. Thompson and Dr. McAllister choose the coveted President's Award for each major. Please note that although Ringling College is still fully operational. The campus and all on-campus galleries remain closed to the public with respect for the health and safety of our community. 

Click to view the exhibit.

[Mother's Day]  Give an Orchid from Selby Gardens

Make this Mother's Day extra special with an orchid arrangement from Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in partnership with Better-Gro! Honor and celebrate the moms (or moms-to-be) in your life with hand-styled orchid arrangements available for curb-side pick-up on Saturday, May 9 from 9 am - noon at Selby Gardens’ Downtown campus or Historic Spanish Point campus. Limited delivery options are also available. All proceeds directly support Selby Gardens. Orders must be placed in advance before noon on Monday, May 4, Please be sure to select your pick-up location. Choose from two stunning options shown above: Single Stem Phalaenopsis Orchid, $35 or the Orchid and Bromeliad Arrangement, $45 (tax included on both).  

Pick-up Option:  Arrangements will be ready for curbside pick-up at the welcome centers at either the Downtown Sarasota campus or Historic Spanish Point campus Saturday, May 9, from 9 am to Noon.  Delivery Option:  A limited number of arrangements are available for delivery to addresses within Sarasota County limits at an additional cost of $20 each. 

Place your order for pick up.

[Giving Back]  Seniors Enjoy Virtual Sing-Along with Area Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts from Florida’s Gulfcoast treated local senior citizens to a virtual sing-along on April 28 as part of their “Across the Generations” council-wide service project. Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida partnered with Harbor Chase in Sarasota for an old-fashioned campfire sing-along, with a virtual twist. Using an online platform, more than 100 girls, family members, and volunteers sang familiar favorites such as “The Brownie Smile Song,” “Do Your Ears Hang Low,” and “Make New Friends” to the enjoyment of assisted and independent living facility residents across the area.

“I am currently living in an independent living center and have not been able to leave the building for several weeks,” said Betty Webb, a long-time Girl Scout volunteer. “Listening to the camp songs brought back some very nice memories. I thought the idea for the project was very timely and kind.” 

Girl Scouts began the service project in March by sending cards, letters, and drawings to local nursing homes and assisted and independent living facilities, whose residents are feeling isolated during the COVID-19 lockdown. The virtual sing-along was also held in conjunction with the 2020 Giving Challenge.

“The Giving Challenge is all about giving back to the community, whether it’s a monetary donation to your favorite local nonprofit organizations or a simple act of kindness during these especially challenging times,” said Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida CEO Mary Anne Servian during the sing-along. “Girl Scouts are well-known for giving back to their communities, and today, we celebrate that tradition of service with a virtual sing-along to lift your spirits.”

Held April 28-29, the Giving Challenge was sponsored by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and further supported by The Patterson Foundation. The Girl Scout council, along with hundreds of nonprofits in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, and Charlotte Counties, raised funds to help support their programs. 

The virtual sing-along is available for viewing on Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida’s Youtube channel. For more information about joining Girl Scouts, volunteering, or making a donation, visit www.gsgcf.org, or call 800-232-4475. 

Click here to see the video.

[The Giving Challenge]  FST Expanding Matching Grant from Patrick and Mary Mulva Past The Giving Challenge

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) is pleased to announce that thanks to the generous support of more than 1,000 donors, the nonprofit theatre raised $321,000 through this year’s 24-hour online Giving Challenge. The organization went into the challenge backed by the support of a $100,000 additional matching grant thanks to the generosity of donors Patrick and Mary Mulva. Now, following the exceptional success of this year’s Giving Challenge campaign, the Mulvas announced they will be expanding their matching grant to FST from $100,000 to $175,000. The couple hopes their expanded giving will inspire the community to continue its outpour of support for Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre, even after the official close of the 2020 Giving Challenge presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County with giving strengthened by The Patterson Foundation.

“The generosity of our Community is truly remarkable!” said Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins. “When Mary and Pat Mulva extended their Matching Gift support of $100,000 to FST I was deeply moved. But when their generosity was matched and even exceeded by so many – hundreds of small gifts pouring in from around the community – I was genuinely astonished! And then, it was all topped off when the Mulvas increased their gift to match the excess of small gifts. Those actions, those kindnesses combined, make this one of my favorite days ever.” 

Of the total $321,000 donated through the 2020 Giving Challenge, $119,000 came from individual donations. $83,000 was matched by The Patterson Foundation and $119,000 was matched by the Mulva family. FST plans to continue fundraising for an additional $56,000 to reach the full potential of Patrick and Mary Mulva’s expanded matching grant of $175,000.

“What great news to learn community donations during the Giving Challenge, not only met our matching challenge, but exceeded it,” shared Patrick and Mary Mulva. “We think that shows how important it is to Sarasota that FST continues to provide quality entertainment and educational opportunities.  We couldn’t agree more and are pleased to increase our matching amount to $175,000. Our thanks go to the donors and to those at FST dedicated to making the re-opening a huge success.  We look forward to all the performances to come.”

The Mulvas’ gift – along with the gifts of over 1,000 individuals and support from The Patterson Foundation – comes at a time when FST, like most businesses, is working to offset sizeable financial losses incurred in response to the devastating spread of COVID19. On March 16, FST announced that it was cancelling the remainder of its Winter Season—including five productions playing to full capacity, weekly FST Improv performances, and educational programming—due to COVID-19. As a result of these cancellations, FST projects a loss of over $1 million in revenue this season alone—over 10% of the theatre’s total operating budget. FST patrons were encouraged to consider donating any unused tickets for cancelled productions back to the theatre as tax-deductible donations.

“This match could not come at a better time,” continued Hopkins. “We know that FST, along with all other theatres in America, has a long road ahead. The very essence of what we do requires a living, breathing audience, which today is a dangerous thing. We look forward to a new tomorrow—when the danger will be gone, and the joy and promise of all that is good and true in the American Theatre will once again take shape on the FST stage. When that happens, the strength of our theatre will be worthy of the generosity of Pat and Mary Mulva and people like them.”  

[Real Estate]  Premier Sotheby's International Realty Welcomes New Associates to Its Sarasota Area Offices

Premier Sotheby’s International Realty is pleased to announce that the following associates have affiliated with the company’s Sarasota area office locations: Jonathan Dellatorre, St. Armands, Sarasota, Pat Guenther, Venice, Kevin Luehrs, Lakewood Ranch, Laurie Mock, St. Armands, Sarasota, Brenda Price, St. Armands, Sarasota, Blake Robertson, Venice, J. Walter Almeida and St. Armands, Sarasota.

“We are very happy to welcome these new associates to Premier Sotheby’s International Realty,” said Budge Huskey, chief executive officer. “Their real estate industry experience, deep knowledge of the Sarasota region and commitment to excellent service lead to making customers for life. We are so pleased to work with these talented associates.” 

For more.

[Recognition]  SMH Receives Straight A’s for Patient Safety

Hospital safety report cards were released today, and Sarasota Memorial Hospital continued its straight-A streak for keeping patients safe from medical errors, infections, accidents and other harm to patients in their care. The Leapfrog Group assigns hospitals across 
the nation A, B, C, D or F safety grades in the spring and fall of each year based on hospital performance on 28 publicly reported quality 
and safety data. The safety grades are designed to help patients quickly assess and choose the safest local hospitals to seek care. Of more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals graded in the Spring 2020 report card, 33% earned an A, 25% earned a B, 34 % earned a C, 7% a D and less than 1% received an F. Sarasota Memorial has earned straight A’s since it began participating in Leapfrog’s voluntary hospital safety survey in 2016.  “As the nation copes with a challenging pandemic, our gratitude extends to hospital leadership and health care workers everywhere for their tremendous dedication,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “We hope this ‘A’ helps to thank the people who work and volunteer for Sarasota Memorial Hospital. They are role models in putting patients first, and their service has been extraordinary in our country’s time of need.” SMH CEO David Verinder attributed the high marks to the dedication and diligence of the entire team. “Our highest priority now and always is the safety of our patients, staff and the community we serve.” 

To access Leapfrog's full result.

[Theater]  Florida Studio Theatre School Goes Virtual

In less than two weeks, the Florida Studio Theatre School goes virtual offering all the same classes from acting, musical theatre, playwriting and improvisatino. Try it for free. You're invited to sample some of their new online class offerings free of charge. Join them for an Open House session on Wednesday, May 6 at 5pm. This special event is first-come, first served and has a limited capacity. To reserve your space, contact Pamela Smith today at psmith@floridastudiotheatre.org or at 941-366-1350. Ages 7-12. 

Click here to enroll.

[Safety]  Community Encouraged to Register for Alert Sarasota County

To help residents stay informed, Sarasota County is launching a mass-notification system called Alert Sarasota County, hosted by Everbridge, as part of a partnership with the state of Florida, the cities of Sarasota, Venice, North Port and Town of Longboat Key. Alert Sarasota County, which replaces the CodeRED notification system, will be used to communicate public health and safety topics affecting Sarasota County. Available alerts include severe weather, sewage spills, mosquito management and boil water notices.

"Coming together for this important collaboration with our local municipalities allows us to bring our community vital information about their safety in a timely manner," said Sarasota County Emergency Services Director Rich Collins.

Users can choose the types of alerts and how to receive them when registering their new account. These options can be changed at any time. Users can also sign up to receive a message when new types of alerts are available. Alert Sarasota County can send alerts to users via landline phone, cell phone, text message, email, TDD/TTY, smartphone app push notification, or a combination of these methods.

Users can sign up for alerts by registering with their home address. County and municipality alerts can differ. To start receiving alerts, sign up in the following ways:  Download the free Everbridge mobile app. In the app, select "find organization or subscription," type your jurisdiction in to the search bar and log in or register a new account. Create an account at alertsarasotacounty.com. The app will also allow for alerts from surrounding cities and the county without the user having to sign up for additional alerts.

When signing up through alertsarasotacounty.com, users can enter their home address to the jurisdiction map to determine which jurisdiction's alerts to receive.

Jurisdictions part of Alert Sarasota County:
Alert Sarasota County - Sarasota County Government.
Alert Sarasota County - City of Sarasota.
Alert Sarasota County - City of North Port.
Alert Sarasota County - City of Venice - Coming Soon.
Alert Sarasota County - Town of Longboat Key (Alert Longboat Key).
The City of Venice is currently transitioning to the new notification system.

The contact information for those who previously signed up for CodeRED or COVID-19 text alerts may not transfer. They may need to sign up for a new Alert Sarasota County account. Sarasota County's contract with CodeRED ends July 2020. "This technology will not only serve to notify our community of emergencies, it will also allow us to reallocate tax-payer dollars to another priority, rather than paying for a notification system," said Collins. The use of this mass-notification system - provided through the host company, Everbridge - is at no cost to Sarasota County or participating municipalities. The state of Florida currently holds a contract with Everbridge, the Alert Sarasota County host. The entire cost of the five-year, $3.5 million contract is borne by the state's Alert Florida program. The state's contract with Everbridge expires July 30, 2024.

"We're very excited to team up with Sarasota County and our other municipal partners to launch this powerful reporting tool. Our residents will be informed like never before," said City of North Port Public Information Officer Josh Taylor.

"We're looking forward to the Everbridge system providing valuable, timely information for our citizens on a variety of critical issues via phone, text message and email," said Venice Deputy Fire Chief Frank Giddens, Emergency Manager for the City of Venice.

"In today's world, it's essential that we all take steps to improve our situational awareness and be prepared in case of emergency," said City of Sarasota Emergency Manager Todd Kerkering. "Signing up for Alert Sarasota County is the best way for our residents to stay updated and informed about what's happening in their community and ensure they'll receive the critical information they need to know."

"The most important thing we do is public safety, and timely emergency messaging is a critical component of keeping residents safe. We appreciate the regional coordination to launch this robust emergency notification system. As a coastal barrier island, this is a critical tool in our emergency management toolbox. We urge our residents to register for Alert Longboat Key to ensure direct delivery of timely emergency information," said Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer. 

For more info.

[Health]  SMH to Resume Elective and Non-Emergency Surgeries on Monday

Sarasota Memorial Hospital will resume elective surgeries and non-emergency procedures Monday, May 4, following yesterday’s announcement from Gov. Ron DeSantis that he will lift surgery restrictions.  All of SMH’s operating rooms, robotic surgery suites, cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology labs, endoscopy/brochoscopy procedural suites and its Cape Outpatient Surgery Center will resume normal operations on Monday.

Since March, the hospital has safely performed nearly 3,000 surgeries, including more than 100 open-heart surgeries and TAVR procedures. SMH is now scheduling a full range of non-emergency and elective procedures that have been delayed, from joint replacement and minimally invasive spine surgery to robotic hysterectomies, laparascopic hernia repairs and more.

A detailed pre-operative evaluation has been developed and other protocols are in place to ensure the safety of patients, staff and medical providers. The hospital has already been testing high-risk and medically indicated patients for COVID-19 up to 72 hours before non-elective surgeries, and is expanding pre-admission testing this week to safely resume elective procedures beginning Monday.

SMH also has the capability of performing rapid on-site COVID-19 testing so it can obtain results in less than an hour in high risk or time-sensitive situations.

“Our top priority has and always will be the safety of our patients, employees, medical staff and others visiting or working in our facilities,” said SMH CEO David Verinder. “I am confident that we have the expertise and infection prevention precautions in place to safely resume operations for all of our patients and team caring for them.”

Patients who had a procedure postponed or who have other questions should contact their physician for information.

In addition to resuming elective procedures, the hospital also encourages people to follow up on important diagnostic and imaging screenings for cancer, heart conditions and other chronic disease.

Visiting restrictions remain unchanged at this time. Patients in surgical, procedural and testing areas may each have one support person (access is limited to the first floor). SMH has been consistently screening everyone who enters its facilities, including patients and staff, for fever and respiratory symptoms. In addition, it requires everyone to don a hospital-provided mask when entering the hospital. 

[Relief]  Bite Me Cookies Brings Sweet Treats to Night Shift Area Hospital Workers

Bite Me Cookies by Cindy was invited by the Suncoast Professional Fire fighters and Paramedics Charitable Foundation to deliver sweet treats on their behalf to 11 area hospitals this week. "The night shift at the hospitals don't always get recognized and I am happy to be part of such a generous gesture by the foundation, and be able to bring my specialty 6" cookies as a thank you for their service at this time" stated owner, Cindy Unzicker. Hospitals on the delivery route include: Bayfront Health, Fawcett Memorial in Port Charlotte, Bayfront Health in Punta Gorda, Venice Regional Medical Center, Sarasota Memorial in North Port, Englewood Community Hospital, Sarasota Memorial in Sarasota, Doctors Hospital in Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, Manatee Memorial in Bradenton and Blake Medical Center in Bradenton. 

Pictured: ite Me Cookies is bringing her specialized sweet treats to 2nd shift workers this week to 12 hospitals.

[Brain Health Initiative]  Brain Health and Watching the News: How Much is Too Much?

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and 24/7 news coverage have created a perfect storm for eroding our brain health and increasing our risk for brain illness, like anxiety. It’s understandable that we became huge consumers of news during this global crisis. Initially, we wanted to know what the coronavirus was, what the symptoms were, and how it was spreading. Now, weeks later we are wondering how we will successfully return to normal and what does our new normal mean? How will our children and our jobs and the economy be impacted? And will we or our loved ones be exposed to the virus? We have so many questions and we are searching for answers.

Harvard colleague, Jacqueline Bullis, PhD, a clinical psychologist in McLean Hospital’s Center of Excellence in Depression and Anxiety Disorders, said in a recent article that COVID-19 has brought a level of uncertainty that is unprecedented for most of us. When uncertainty is high, our brains seek as much information as possible as we attempt to regain control.

But while staying glued to the television or constantly refreshing our social media feeds may help us feel slightly less anxious in the short term, according to Dr. Bullis these behaviors ultimately increase our anxiety eroding our brain and physical health. The more we try to gain control, the more anxious we feel. It is impossible to be 100 percent certain of what the future holds in general and regarding COVID-19. Therefore, it is imperative that we do all that we can to promote and protect our brain and body health, fight brain and physical illness and strengthen our resilience to life and COVID-19.


In the article from McLean Hospital, Dr. Bullis offers these suggestions for avoiding too much news:

Control What You Can: Your schedule has been disrupted by COVID-19 possibly leaving you with more time than ever to watch the news or follow social media. Changes to your routines and the impact of physical distancing are likely to lead to increased screen time. This heightened exposure can decrease your brain health and increase your risk for developing symptoms of brain illness, including anxiety, fear, anger, loneliness, and other negative emotions. The Brain Health Initiative suggests practicing a brain healthy mindset and accepting what is beyond your control. Remember what we discussed last week about reframing and refocusing your behaviors on factors you can manage, such as frequent hand washing and practicing physical distancing. Further, take good care of yourself by practicing the brain healthy behaviors we have discussed this past month – maintaining your routines, eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, thinking positive thoughts, and staying connected with loved ones.

Step Back from the News: While some media consumption is fine, Dr. Bullis recommends taking steps to limit your exposure to troubling news: Determine what information is helpful in learning ways to stay safe versus what is unhelpful and can lead to more anxiety.

Be selective about the media. Stick to trusted sources, such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Limit your time spent with COVID-19 news. Bookmark trusted sites and check them for updates just once or twice per day. Remove anxiety-provoking information from your social media feeds. If people you follow are filling your feeds with upsetting information, mute or hide their posts.

Good News Is Still Out There: To promote your brain health, there are ways to engage with media to help offset feeling anxious, lonely or upset: Follow social media accounts that focus on uplifting news. Try Instagram’s @goodnews_movement and @upworthy or YouTube’s Some Good News, hosted by John Krasinski. Create a group text with friends or family to share uplifting news stories with each other. Use Netflix Party, to watch shows remotely with friends.When reading or viewing news stories, be aware of how they make you feel. If the news you’re consuming isn’t providing information that educates you on how to stay safe, it might contribute to fear and anxiety.

McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass, is the largest psychiatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. Read the full article here. 

[Mindfulness]  The Power of Presence Webinar Starts Today

We hope to see you in one of our three 1-hour webinars exploring THE POWER OF PRESENCE in the time of COVID-19, join author, Joy Thomas Moore in a discussion on how the seven pillars of presence can help guide families through these challenging times, presented by the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. We are inviting more than 900 community members who participated in last year’s THE POWER OF PRESENCE book circles to join us for one of these webinars. In addition, we welcome “new” participants. The Patterson Foundation will mail a copy of THE POWER OF PRESENCE to individuals who attend one of the webinars who did not participate in a previous book circle. These live webinars are being offered at a variety of times for the convenience of the audience.  

Tomorrow, May 1st - 2:00pm  RSVP HERE

Saturday, May 2nd - 10:00am RSVP HERE

Monday, May 4th - 8:00pm RSVP HERE 

For more info.

[Relief]  CARES Act Assists Asolo Rep with Rehiring Temporarily Laid Off Employees

When Asolo Rep canceled the remainder of its 2019-20 season in March due to the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, it had to temporarily lay off 60% of its 200-person workforce including members of its administrative and box office staffs, as well as its acting company. With the passage of the Paycheck Protection Program, part of the new CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act, Asolo Rep has secured financial assistance that will allow it to avert at least 20 pending furloughs, as well as reinstate 36 staff members, including ten costume shop staff members who immediately began sewing face masks for local organizations. Thanks to the CARES Act loan, the 36 total employees have been reinstated with full health benefits for the next eight weeks.

“I am proud and deeply grateful for all who have made it possible for us to receive this loan through the CARES Act, said Producing Artistic Director Michael Donald Edwards. It represents a vote of confidence by the federal government of the United States that Asolo Repertory Theatre will be here when the all clear is sounded. The CARES Act is an extraordinary financial lifeline at a critical moment in our country’s history, but it is also a challenge that we at Asolo Repertory Theatre live up to our role as a vital part of the cultural and economic life of Sarasota.”

Acknowledging the crucial role the CARES Act funding plays in the future of the arts in our community, Managing Director Linda DiGabriele stated, “Sarasota’s arts and cultural organizations are the third largest employer in the county. These same organizations, so important to attracting tourism, will struggle to reopen with social distancing requirements. Without the support of our generous patrons and special programs like the CARES Act, it would be difficult to bridge the damage from this curtailed season to the next season in the fall. We are grateful to have received this generous loan.” 

For more.

[Beaches]  Manatee County Residents May Visit Public Beaches for Two Hours Daily Beginning Monday

Manatee County officials today announced details to manage crowds amidst several ongoing construction projects on Anna Maria ahead of public beaches opening on Monday.

"There are multiple construction projects ongoing at public beaches, but we're doing our best to open other areas for parking while these parking spots are unavailable," said Beach Patrol Chief Joe Westerman. "We want people to come and enjoy themselves at our life-guarded beaches, but they need to remember social distancing guidelines and they should be respectful of other people who want to visit the beach."

Public parking spots at the County's three public beaches will be open from 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., seven days a week beginning Monday, May 4. There will be approximately 400 parking spots at Coquina Beach, 200 at Cortez Beach and space for 250 vehicles at Manatee Beach. Drivers will be allowed an available space on a first-come, first-served basis.
Beachgoers will have two hours of free parking each day to enjoy the beach with minimal restrictions. The limit will allow visitors to enjoy the sun, sand and water for a reasonable amount of time while allowing others to visit the beach throughout the day.

When they arrive, drivers will be given a two-hour parking pass and a reminder to remain a safe distance from others. Vehicles parked beyond the two-hour time limit will be subject to a parking citation and fine.

Typical beach activities are allowed. As always, animals, alcohol, fires, glass bottles or vehicles are not allowed on County beaches anytime. Other beach gear is allowed and sunscreen is encouraged, especially for anyone who hasn't been in the sun for several weeks.  County officials remind beachgoers that sea turtle nesting season begins May 1 and it's against the law to touch or disturb nesting sea turtles, hatchlings, or their nests. 

For more info.

[Safety]  DOH Sarasota Sets Dates for More Community Based COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing

DOH Sarasota is scheduled to host three by appointment only COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites throughout Sarasota County next week. This 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 health care setting.

To make an appointment, please call 941-861-2883, Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Callers will be screened using current CDC testing criteria. Appointments are limited however more testing opportunities may be scheduled in the future. Additionally, while these are primarily drive-thru sites, DOH Sarasota can accommodate walk-ups, and people on bicycles.

North Sarasota: Tuesday, May 5, 8 a.m. to Noon - R.L. Taylor Community Center, 1845 34th Street, Sarasota

South County: Wednesday, May 6, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. - Heron Creek Middle School, 6501 W. Price Blvd, North Port

Mid-County: Thursday, May 7, 8 a.m. to Noon - Laurel Civic Association, 509 Collins Road, Laurel

All patients must have an appointment to be tested, please call (941) 861-2883 to be evaluated and scheduled for an appointment.

The Florida Department of Health continues to see new positive cases across the State, please visit www.flhealth.gov/covid-19 for the most current case count and county specific data.

The CDC recommends 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.

The Florida Department of Health reminds everyone that the elderly and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness.

If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, follow the steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community.

Stay home except to get medical care: You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis. 

For more Florida Department of Health updates.

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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