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SRQ DAILY Jun 27, 2020

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"As many local governments discovered when first confronted with this virus, there simply wasn't a road map to tell us how to safely reach our destination."

- Jonathan Lewis, Sarasota County Administrator

-SRQ Magazine's New Summer 2020 Issue Is Out Now.
[Under The Hood]  Time to Mask Up
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Even with the number of recorded COVID-19 cases escalating at a rate unseen in Florida, we see less people wearing masks over time instead of more. That’s why it’s time local governments in this area put a masking requirement in place for those venturing into indoor, public spaces.

Let me make clear I’m not trying to play the role of extremist. I’m not advocating for a return to lockdowns. Indeed to me, the acceptance this pandemic will be with us for many months requires acknowledging business must operate and society must carve a oath forward that accommodates conditions instead of hiding from them. If a hurricane battered this area for a solid year, we’d find a way to work in the rain when it became clear the storm was not just passing through. In this case that means finding a way to venture into public while limiting transmission.

Unfortunately, the clouds continue to gather. Manatee County on Thursday reported 166 positive tests for coronavirus. Sarasota County tallied another 105 diagnoses the same day. Those results were part of a stunning 8,933 recorded cases in Florida on a single day. Gov. Ron DeSantis won’t issue a statewide mask requirement because many counties still report few cases. That’s fine, but expects local officials to respond to conditions in their own communities.

In a world where kneejerk reaction political demands transmit over social media in live time, elected leaders feel understandably reluctant to demand Americans do anything these days. That’s resulted in a public who rarely hears the call of sacrifice, even for so minor an inconvenience as a cloth face covering. Every hospital leader in the region politely asked already for the public to wear masks. But few governments in this area mandate it. Holmes Beach officials passed a requirement this week, but Manatee County Commissioners punted on the issue. Sarasota city commissioners will toy with the matter on Monday.

It’s worth acknowledging government’s contribution to public confusion on the manner— at least at the federal level. The Centers for Disease Control initially discouraged mask use, partly because with a low percentage of the population infected it made little difference at first, but mostly because of anxieties there weren’t enough medical-grade masks to go around should hospitals become overwhelmed.

At this point, countless big box stores, mall kiosks and local boutiques sell masks. And for all the dread from seeing statewide numbers skyrocket, the virus has yet to overwhelm hospitals in Florida.

Fortunately, fewer people now die from COVID-19 than did in early weeks and months. But while hope existed weeks ago Florida may be on the back end of the storm, the last week dashed that. It seems if governments choose not to issue mask orders now, they may soon need to in the future.

If you’ll allow one moment of pettiness, let me share a personal reason I favor a requirement. When I take my six-year-old into public, he doesn’t want to wear a mask, but will when he sees most people around doing so. If it’s a rule other people follow, he will as well. If there’s only a few masking at Publix, he fights me every minute at the store.

I can feel the eye rolls now. Should we have to wear masks because this guy’s kid won’t listen? It’s true. As a father, I shouldn’t relent to temper tantrums, and it’s my responsibility to make him behave in his own interest and of those around.

Officials should keep that in mind too during public input periods at meetings and when venturing online. Stubborn outbursts from grown men shouldn’t dictate public policy either.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ MEDIA.



Photo of Nolan and Jacob Ogles

[County]  Adjusting To The New Normal
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Our state and our community continue to adjust to the “new normal” in this time of coronavirus. Even during this unprecedented event, the business of your county government goes on.

Our staff at Sarasota County government has excelled at providing world-class service while faced with the challenges, and uncertainty, of those early days of COVID-19: water still flowed, permits were still processed, roads were still paved and our emergency services personnel still responded to calls, just to cite a few examples.

We are now shifting our operations back to the levels before we reduced access to county services and facilities. While not all of our services are yet available to the public, our parks amenities are open, our libraries have patrons, and our athletic fields are again hosting kids who need fresh air after being indoors for so long.

As we proceed with our re-entry plans, I want to remind the community about the importance of working together to prevent the spread of this virus. I encourage you to follow the guidelines from the Florida Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control, just as I and our 2,300 county employees do:

  • Take advice from health officials seriously. Wear a cloth face mask in public when you cannot socially distance, wash your hands thoroughly and continue to practice social distancing.
  • Be especially careful around those over the age of 65 and those with underlying health conditions. They are the most at-risk in our community.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Keep your social circles small to limit your potential exposures.
  • Follow all health and safety guidelines at retail and food establishments.
  • Remember to stay informed, ask questions and be kind to each other.

As many local governments discovered when first confronted with this virus, there simply wasn’t a road map to tell us how to safely reach our destination. Each day has presented new challenges, and our staff continually rises to meet those challenges head-on with the same goal in mind: providing world-class service in a safe and responsible manner.

Sarasota County will continue to look to our governor, federal, state, and local health officials, and the leadership of our county commission, to guide us. We will work hard to continue providing the services you have come to expect, and to keep you informed about county decisions and information. At this point, no one knows what the future holds or is quite sure how long this “new normal” will last.

As we continue to navigate the demands of this virus, one thing is certain: we cannot return to the “old normal” without the support of the entire community. We will continue to do our part and we ask that you each do the same by listening to health officials, practicing social distancing and good hygiene, and wearing a mask when you cannot socially distance from other citizens.

Common sense is paramount, of course. But so is the compassion for, and responsibility to, your fellow citizens. If we work together, our community will be stronger for it.

Jonathan Lewis is Sarasota County Administrator. 

[New Health Regulations]  Community Effort Sets Safety Standards for Early Childcare Facilities Amidst COVID-19

As childcare centers re-open across Sarasota County, the experience will look a lot different for parents, teachers and children. A taskforce of early learning professionals came together to set unified COVID-19 guidelines to safely operate local centers and support families making childcare decisions. Facilitated by the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County and Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, a collaborative effort was made to compile recommendations from the CDC, Department of Health, and lessons learned in the field to establish clear operating protocols for early learning facilities amid COVID-19. Healthcare professionals and disease specialists at Sarasota Memorial Health Care System and Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital were consulted on the project.

“Our childcare providers have been in a state of flux trying to interpret high level recommendations and create new operating protocols,” says Teri A Hansen, Barancik Foundation President and CEO. “This collaboration to adopt local best practices affirms the leadership and professionalism of our early childhood educators.”

The taskforce established minimum recommendations, including guidance on daily health screenings, facility sanitization and preventative measures to reduce the spread of germs. The goal is to offer staff and parents practical, affordable, and enforceable guidelines. The Early Learning Coalition will distribute the guidelines broadly to their network of more than 170 childcare centers. Providers are being asked to adopt the recommendations and communicate the standards to the families in their care. “Parents have to know they are making the right decision when they drop off their child,” says Janet Kahn, Executive Director of Early Learning Coalition. “We know quality childcare is critical to our region’s economic recovery and these guidelines are designed to protect everyone as we return to work and school.”


Click here for more information.

[Donation]  Circus Performers to Provide Free Masks

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, step right up and get your free masks. The Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, The Circus Arts Conservatory, and the City of Sarasota will be providing free masks in downtown Sarasota and on St. Armand’s Circle on Saturday, June 27th on Main Street from 11:00 am – 12:00 pm and St. Armand’s Circle: 12:15 pm – 1:00 pm. Be dazzled as jugglers and stilt-walkers from The Circus Arts Conservatory share their talents with the community and show your gratitude by wearing your mask to protect this community that we love. 

[The Giving Challenge]  Virtually Unstoppable
Brittany Mattie, brittany.mattie@srqme.com

The Giving Challenge faced its own challenge this year - falling right in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Spoiler alert: The community proved unphased and unstoppable. 

Click here to read the full article in SRQ's Summer 2020 issue.

[COVID-19]  DOH Sarasota Schedules COVID-19 Testing in South Sarasota County Next Wednesday

DOH Sarasota is scheduled to host a by appointment COVID-19 drive-thru testing opportunity at Heron Creek Middle School Wednesday, July 1st. DOH Sarasota is prioritizing COVID-19 testing 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, however, additional slots are available for those without current symptoms seeking a test.

DOH Sarasota will have 100 COVID-19 tests available for this one-day, four-hour testing opportunity, appointments are required as demand for testing is high. To date, DOH Sarasota has tested more than 3100 community members for COVID-19 during our community-based testing events. Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm. While these are primarily drive-thru sites, DOH Sarasota can accommodate walk-ups, and people on bicycles.  

To be evaluated and to make an appointment please call 941-861-2883.

Click here for more information.

[SOON]  GALLERY: Salvador Dali: Gardens of the Mind , February 9 – July 26, Garden hours.

The fourth annual exhibition in the Jean & Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Series, Salvador Dalí: Gardens of the Mind, in collaboration with The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, has been extended to July 26, 2020. Salvador Dalí: Gardens of the Mind highlights the artist’s repeated use of botanical imagery alongside a surreal display of plants in Selby Gardens’ Tropical Conservatory and gardens. The photolithographic series Flordalí, on loan from The Dalí Museum, will be the centerpiece of the Museum of Botany & the Arts, along with photos that put the artist’s life, work, and relationship with nature into context.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 900 S. Palm Avenue, Sarasota

[SOON]  FOOD: Sarasota's Taste of Pride , June 15 – June 30

Experience the best of Sarasota's LGBTQ-Friendly businesses with Project PRIDE's first annual TASTE of PRIDE event happening June 15 to 30. ​Businesses are offering a discount, pre-fix menu, or free item to celebrate pride month. Some locations are even adding rainbow items to the menu. Participating locations include Clasico Bar, Tsunami Sushi, FST Improv, AVLI Mess Hall, EVOQ at The Westin Sarasota, Bavaro's Pizza Napoletana & Pastaria, Umbrella's 1296, Live Wells Vegan Meal Delivery, Leaf & Lentil, Sage, Rayna's Taqueria, Mitches Kitchen, Mellow Mushroom, and Petals & Sugar.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Virtual: Summer Art Camps , June 15 – August 7, Varied.

Summer Camp will be virtual this year from June 15 to August 7, 2020! We have decided for the health and safety of our teachers and campers that we will host camp virtually. Camp hours: 10am – 3pm. Cost: $75 for members | $100 for non-members (youth membership is $25) for one week. Space is limited please register for the weeks that your child is interested in.

The Creative Kids Summer Camp is for ages 6-9 years old. The Emerging Artists Summer Camp is for ages 10-13 years old. Contemporary Studies Summer Camp is for ages 14-18.

A Supply List will be sent to parents a few weeks before the camp week starts. The supply lists contain basic materials that your camper will be able to use more than once and where to find them. The camp project packet will be downloadable, for printing at home, on the Friday before the camp week starts and contains the projects for the next week. A printed version of the Camp project packet will be available upon request for pickup at the Art Center the Friday before camp from 10-2pm.

Art Center Sarasota, 707 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Small Wonders: Insects in Focus , June 17 – October 20, Museum hours.

Insects inhabit every domain of our daily lives, performing essential functions that balance our fragile ecosystem on Earth — functions that often go unnoticed because of their small size or scale. Now, using cutting-edge technology and custom methods that put tiny insects on a human scale, artist and photographer Bob Sober allows visitors to see the patterns, textures, colors and details that have always been present, but too small to appreciate in The Bishop’s newest special exhibition: Small Wonders: Insects in Focus.

Creating human-scale images of insects, with resolution so high that every hair, dimple and tiny structure is clearly revealed, was impossible prior to the technological advancements of the past 10 years. Now, Sober’s skills allow us to see the intersection of natural science and art in the smooth metallic finishes and heavily stippled textures, strange body shapes, delicate wing structures and beautifully engineered body components in this series of 30 images that will are on display in the Museum’s second-floor Rincon Gallery and throughout the Museum.

Small Wonders: Insects in Focus features 30 of Sober’s spectacular images and viewers will find themselves at the intersection of art and science. The exhibition, which is included in the cost of admission, is organized by ExhibitsUSA, a program of Mid-America Arts Alliance and will be open at The Bishop through October 20.

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, 201 10th St. W, Bradenton

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Virtual: 2020 Players New Play Festival , June 29 – July 3, 7:30pm

The 2020 Players New Play Festival has gone virtual. In order to stay safe and to still have our friends listen and experience our 5 finalists. See these brand new, never-before-performed plays through Zoom. The five chosen plays are performed in readers-style theater by actors under the leadership of a local director with a talk-back following the show to give the playwright some constructive criticism led by Managing Artistic Director Jeffery Kin. Tickets must be purchased by noon the day of the show. If you want to take advantage of the group pricing, make sure you decide that when you first purchase, please. The day of the show you will receive a Zoom link to your email by 5pm that evening. Experience a different show each night. Echo Nevada on Monday, June 29. The Manager on Tuesday, June 30. The Rabbit Test on Wednesday, July 1. Next Wife on Thursday, July 2. Medium Well Done on Friday, July 3.

[SOON]  THEATER: Online: Asolo Rep Ground Floor Series Presents Making Musicals-Maya, July 2 , July 2, Online at 6pm

Tune in to our Facebook and YouTube pages this Thursday at 6pm for the first installment in Asolo Rep's new Making Musicals competition, designed specifically for an online audience. On May 21, June 4, June 18 and July 2 at 6pm, we will preview four completely new and original musicals on our Facebook and YouTube pages. Each 30-minute session will consist of a fifteen-minute preview performance of one new musical, followed by a fifteen-minute discussion with the playwright/composer and James Monaghan, Asolo Rep Dramaturg and Literary Manager, and Celine Rosenthal, Asolo Rep Associate Artistic Director, who serves as the Director of the Ground Floor Series and is also directing all four musicals. To add to the fun, we're incorporating a Virtual Happy Hour into the presentation. One day prior to each performance, you will receive an email notice of the broadcast that includes a cocktail recipe specifically chosen to compliment the theme of that week’s new musical.

July 2 at 6pm: Maya. Book and Music by Cheeyang Ng; Book and Lyrics by Eric Sorrels.

At the center of the story is Maya Mehta, a Cambridge-educated girl from India striving for recognition as a poet in the West, while her family plans her wedding to a wealthy prince. But in one life-changing moment, the Salt March, led by Mahatma Gandhi against the tyranny of the British Empire, arrives on Maya’s doorstep. When Maya joins the thousands in their quest to shake the foundations of an empire, the Mehta family’s world changes forever. With a score that fuses Western pop and Indian Classical music, MĀYĀ is about the ties that hold us, the illusions that bind us and the truth that can finally set us free.

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

Copyright © 2020 by SRQ Media Group, 331 South Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236.
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