The latest on the COVID-19 pandemic in Bradenton and Manatee County.
More deaths reported in Manatee
Three more Manatee County residents have have died from COVID-19, according to the Florida Department of Health. A total of 49 people have died.
Statewide, there were 47 new deaths reported on Wednesday morning. Florida’s death toll from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, now stands at 1,218.
Four more county residents have been reported as testing positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total case county for Manatee to 567.
Expanded testing coming to Manatee, Sarasota
Health officials Wednesday began a three-day drive-thru testing program at the Bradenton Area Convention Center in Palmetto that already has no room left for appointments.
However, Gov. Ron DeSantis and other officials announced more drive-thru testing was comnig to the convention center and to the Mall at University Town Center on the Manatee-Sarasota border.
Get the details here.
Manatee Education Foundation sets up relief fund
The COVID-19 pandemic forced teachers and students to finish the school year online, a daunting and costly endeavor.
In response, the Manatee Education Foundation — not to be confused with the teacher’s union, Manatee Education Association — has created the COVID-19 Relief Fund.
MEF President Mary Glass learned about a shortage of WiFi hotspots, especially in the most at-need communities, and she was motivated to help bring students online. Glass hoped to fill any gaps created by the pandemic, and she said there were numerous possibilities.
The relief fund, launched by the education foundation earlier this month, was announced in a news release from the school district on Wednesday morning. It pointed donors to the foundation’s website, www.mefinfo.org.
Glass said her foundation raised approximately $40,000 over the past several weeks.
“That’s going right out the door,” she said.
Governor unveils plan to reopen Florida
Read the details here.
NEED A JOB? LOOK HERE
A website projects the unemployment rate in Manatee-Sarasota could hit 28 percent, as businesses shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic shed jobs.
Local business organizations are not standing pat.
Employers can post jobs while workers displaced by the coronavirus pandemic can search for them at jobfocus.com, a service hosted by the Manatee Chamber of Commerce.
Also, here is a link to more information about applying for unemployment benefits in Florida.
ORGANIZATIONS OFFERING HELP
Resources are available to help struggling Manatee County residents through the COVID-19 pandemic. Opportunities also exist to support local relief efforts, which are facing a sudden and overwhelming demand.
With all schools closed through May 1, area students might struggle to find their daily lunch, and parents may need child care while they continue working. Other residents are losing work hours or jobs with the restrictions placed on restaurants and bars.
Here is a list of some of the organizations offering help.
Need help paying rent or utility bills? Check out the groups listed here.
BRADENTON RESTAURANTS OFFERING TAKE-HOME AND DELIVERY SERVICES
The Bradenton Herald has published a list of restaurants offering take out and/or delivery services during the coronavirus pandemic.
Also, feel free to leave the names, addresses and phone numbers of other restaurants, either as a comment on our Facebook page or on the page for the Manatee Eats group.
TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE CORONAVIRUS
There’s no vaccine for the COVID-19 virus, and experts say one may be months away from mass production.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest avoiding close contact with people who are sick, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, staying home when you are sick, covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
The agency also advises washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
The CDC does advise that people wear face masks to avoid either contracting the virus or passing it on.