Lake County government is taking precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by postponing all county-sponsored events through the end of March, according to a press release from county officials.
Future county-sponsored events are tentative, pending recommendations from the COVID-19 Task Force, which the County formed in February to lead local planning and preparedness, and to provide a strong supporting role to the Florida Department of Health.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends social distancing to help reduce person-to-person transmission, and Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday recommended that all mass gatherings be postponed.
In accordance with these recommendations, postponed events include the ribbon-cutting at Miracle League Field on March 14, the Engine 15 push back ceremony at Station 15 on March 17, the groundbreaking ceremony at Marianne Beck Memorial Library on March 20 and the How to Win Government Contracts seminar on March 23. UF/IFAS Extensions Services events, including the Spring Plant Sale on March 28, are also postponed. For the latest event information, residents are encouraged to visit lakecountyfl.gov.
Several libraries will also postpone March events, including Astor County Library, Cagan Crossings Community Library (Four Corners), Cooper Memorial Library (Clermont), East Lake County Library (Sorrento), Marion Baysinger Memorial County Library (Groveland), Paisley County Library, Umatilla Public Library, Helen Lehmann Memorial Library (Montverde) and Marianne Beck Memorial Library(Howey-in-the-Hills). Residents can visit mylakelibrary.org or contact their local branch for more information.
Board of County Commissioners’ meetings will continue as scheduled, and the public is encouraged to watch the meetings online at lakecountyfl.gov.
For regular COVID-19 updates as well as public safety tips, follow the Lake County Emergency Management Facebook page at facebook.com/lakecountyflemergencymanagement/.
The city of Clermont also announced late Thursday that it is canceling all city-run events and programs through the end of March as a preventive measure against the spread of coronavirus.
Canceled March city events include Friday Night at the Black Box, Clermont Cycle & Seek, Hotel California, Coffee with the Mayor and Movies Under the Stars. Programs include all senior activities, open gym, recreational programs at the Clermont Arts and Recreation Center and more. The Kehlor Building and Champions Splash Park will be closed starting Friday, March 13. Visit clermontfl.gov for the latest information.
“The city of Clermont is taking these measures out of an abundance of caution to help slow the spread of the coronavirus,” City Manager Darren Gray says in a news release. “This is for the safety and well-being of our residents, staff and the community, and especially to protect those who are most vulnerable: the elderly and those with chronic illness.”
For these reasons, the city also is encouraging people to use its online services whenever possible, as opposed to coming in to city facilities, such as for utility billing payments, development services and clerk’s office requests.
The city is offering full refunds upon request for city-run events and programs until further notice. Private event renters who choose to cancel their city facility rentals will be offered a credit that will be good through the city’s fiscal year ending Sept. 30.
In The Villages, all of the recreation centers and facilities are currently scheduled to remain open. Given the state Health Department guidance, outdoor activities remain unaffected at this time, a news release states. Members of Resident Lifestyle Volunteer Groups should contact group leaders to find out whether events have been canceled.
District administration has canceled the following meetings and events:
Friday, March 13
- Village Community Development District No. 1
- Village Community Development District No. 2
- Village Community Development District No. 3
- Village Community Development District No. 4
Saturday, March 14
- The Spring Craft Show at Lake Miona, SeaBreeze and Eisenhower regional recreation centers.
Wednesday, March 18
- Architectural Review Committee
- Amenity Authority Committee Budget Workshop
Thursday, March 19
- North Sumter County Utility Dependent District (NSCUDD)
- Sumter Landing Community Development District
- Brownwood Community Development District
- Village Community Development District No. 9
- Village Community Development District No. 10
- CDD Orientation
Friday, March 20
- Village Community Development District No. 5
- Village Community Development District No. 6
- Village Community Development District No. 8
Visit districtgov.org for updates.
The city of Groveland also announced late Thursday the cancellation of all city-sponsored and community events through the end of March.
Groveland’s Founder’s Week Celebration has been canceled, including these activities:
- The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association Softball Clinic at Jimmy Thomas Memorial Park on March 21.
- The Historic Society Scavenger Hunt at the Puryear Building on March 21.
- Groveland’s Downtown Festival Park Chili Cook Off on March 27.
- The Farmers’ Market in Downtown Festival Park on March 28.
- Cherry Lake Park Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on March 29.
Mayor and council meetings will take place as planned, along with the Special and Presidential Primary elections on March 17.
In Mount Dora, Mayor Cathy Hoechst announced Friday that the city is temporarily suspending events in areas including:
- Downtown areas, including all city parks and Sunset Park.
- City facilities.
- W.T. Bland Public Library.
“The health and wellness of our residents and visitors is a priority for the city and, following the guidelines set forth by the CDC for social distancing, the city believed this was the best practice,” the mayor says in a news release. “This was a difficult decision for city leaders, but we believe this was the best decision for our community. We will weather this situation together and we want you to be safe.”
At Lake-Sumter State College, most large-scale, on-campus events have been canceled or postponed until April 6.
“The college’s top priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff,” Dr. Stan Sidor, president of Lake-Sumter State College, says in a news release. “This situation requires us to make difficult and unprecedented decisions. The intent of all these decisions is to ensure the safety of our college community based on the recommendations of official sources and available information.”
Beginning after spring break, scheduled from March 16-20, LSSC will move to conducting all courses online from March 23 through at least April 5. Faculty will communicate with their students with information specific to each course.
“Our goal is to maintain our high-quality instruction and focus on our student’s success while keeping them on schedule with their academic progression,” the president says.
Additionally, when the college returns from spring break March 23, campuses will remain open but with limited staffing. Admissions & Records, Financial Aid, Academic Advising and the Cashier’s Office will be open for in-person support from 10am-6:30pm Monday and 10am-4:30pm Tuesday-Friday. Academic and career advising is moving to all virtual advising through April 5.
Online services and resources, including Canvas, LOIS, libraries and virtual tutoring, will remain available and will not be impacted by this staffing change.
LSSC has activated its Emergency Deans support program to assist students who may be experiencing distress or hardships. Students can seek assistance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We know that these decisions are being made quickly and with significant impact to our community. Please know that the college will work to support students, faculty and staff through these changes,” Stan says.
For updates, see lssc.edu/coronavirus.
For the majority of people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus is thought to be low, according to the CDC. There is not widespread circulation in most communities in the United States, the CDC states.
Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions, like heart or lung disease or diabetes, seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness, according to the CDC. People who are at higher risk are encouraged to avoid crowds as much as possible.
Based on what is currently known about this virus, spread from person to person happens most frequently among close contact (within about 6 feet) via respiratory droplets, according to the CDC. Social distancing strategies increase the space between people and decrease the frequency of contact between them to reduce the risk of spreading the disease.
More information can be found at cdc.gov/coronavirus. Citizens also may contact the Florida Department of Health at floridahealth.gov or call 866.779.6121 with any questions.