COVID-19 Community Resources
By Kelly Oden
While there can be no doubt that the coronavirus has changed, and will continue to change, our community and our world, there can also be no doubt that Pensacolians know how to come together and care for one another like few other communities. Here are just a few resources for our community members in need.
Florida Public School System
All state testing has been canceled for Florida Public Schools. In addition, Florida public schools are closed to on-site learning until at least April 15. Escambia and Santa Rosa students switched to remote learning on April 1. Visit your school district’s website for detailed information.
Escambia County: ecsd-fl.schoolloop.com
Santa Rosa County: santarosa.k12.fl.us
The United Way of West Florida COVID-19 Response Fund
The UWWF COVID-19 Response Fund will support families within our service area that are struggling to keep their lights on or pay their bills. It will ensure that seniors and veterans have food on their plates and provide relief to households that can’t access adequate childcare or fill emergency prescriptions. It will provide support to nonprofit agencies and programs to nonprofit programs that are providing critical services to our community. If you need assistance finding food, paying housing bills, accessing free childcare, or other essential services, please dial 2-1-1, or visit www.211nwfl.org, to connect with our information and referral hotline, 211 Northwest Florida. Those able to give may do so by texting 850RESPOND to 41444 or by visiting uwwf.org/covid19fund.
Community Health Northwest Florida’s drive up testing for those needing to be tested for COVID-19 is currently underway at Brownsville Community Center from 9 am to 1 pm Monday through Friday. The patient must FIRST call 850.746.2684 to be pre-screened and evaluated to qualify for the drive-up testing. The patient must be in their vehicle; there will be no walk up testing at this time.
Gulf Power – Suspending collections through the end of March
ECUA – Will not cut off water to your home or business for non-payment. Offering payment plan assistance to those with extreme financial losses because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
COX (Internet) – Offering a low-income Internet tier with no annual contract and relaxing data usage overage charges for all tiers until May 15, 2020.
Resources for Seniors
Food Resources for Seniors
Council on Aging of West Florida operates over a dozen senior dining sites in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, from which to-go meals are distributed Monday through Friday at 11 am. First-time clients must first call (850) 432-1475 by noon the day before they desire their meal to sign up.
Escambia County is coordinating additional food distribution sites (myescambia.com/covid-19-information-for-escambia-county/food-sites-list). Please call the individual site to inquire about qualifications necessary to receive nutrition.
Feeding the Gulf Coast – Assists families and individuals along the Central Gulf Coast to provide groceries and meals to those struggling to afford food. Use their website’s Find Pantry (feedingthegulfcoast.org/find-help/find-a-pantry) feature to locate help.
Council on Aging of West Florida operates a community care closet from which anyone 60 and up can request protein supplements, adult diapers, walkers, canes, etc. Call (850) 432-1475 to ensure availability.
Grocery Store Curb Side Pickup and/or Delivery Options
The following grocery stores offer online shopping with curbside pickup and/or delivery options.
Shopping Hours for Seniors
Many stores are offering specified shopping hours for seniors. The list is constantly changing so it is recommended you Google: COVID-19 Shopping for Seniors to see if there are any updates:
- Dollar General: The first hour of operation is reserved for seniors. Call your local store to find out opening times.
- Fresh Market: Anyone 65 and older can shop from 7 to 8 am.
- Publix: Anyone 65 and older can shop on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 7 to 8 am.
- Target: Stores are reserving an hour on Wednesdays for “vulnerable shoppers.” Call your local store to find out exact hours.
- Walgreens: Every Tuesday, starting Tuesday, March 24 (through April 28), is now Seniors Day with all-day discounts and seniors-only shopping from 8 to 9 a.m. (and now open one hour earlier on Tuesdays for 60 and older to shop).
- Walmart: Every day from 7 to 8 am is reserved for elder shoppers and those at highest risk for complications from COVID-19.
- Whole Foods Market: Stores open one hour early for 60 and older to shop. Call your local store for exact hours.
- Winn-Dixie: Stores are open 8 to 9 am Monday through Friday exclusively to seniors and high-risk customers.
Escambia County Paratransit offers transportation for disabled individuals living in Escambia County. Please call ECAT Customer Service at 850-595-3228 if you need assistance with a specific route or have additional questions. Updated information will also available on www.myescambia.com. Escambia County Community Transportation will temporarily suspend all paratransit services after 7 pm for weekday and Saturday services. All medical necessary trips will be honored. Sunday service is temporarily suspended. All expired paratransit eligibility will be extended for 90 days. In-person paratransit eligibility interviews will be rescheduled or completed over the phone.
In Santa Rosa county, the Tri-County Community Council is committed to providing the safest, most efficient, most courteous and reliable services to the transportation disadvantaged residents. Transportation services are available for all who meet eligibility requirements including the elderly, disabled, and those with low income. Some riders are transported for specific purposes by sponsoring agencies. Riders transported under the Non-Sponsored program are charged a co-pay based on the service area of the trip, while others may be charged the full cost of the trip. Reservations must be made no later than 12 noon the day before your scheduled appointment. Call (850) 626-6806.
Virtual Support Groups
The Center for Independent Living operates the Peer Support Group for people with disabilities (including seniors) that will be occurring online on April 7, 2020, at noon. This will be the first time online. People will be able to participate by either calling in or joining on the internet.
Epilepsy Florida offers education and virtual support group for individuals with a suspicion or diagnosis of epilepsy/seizure disorder. To receive services, contact the hotline at 1-877-553-7453.
Local businesses offer online classes
Fitness — Wild Lemon, Militia Fitness, Ride Society, Regymen Fitness, Unlimited Fitness Results, Breath Yoga, URU Yoga and Fixed on Fitness are just a few of the local businesses offering online workouts to keep you fit and focused while staying home. You can find information on each businesses Facebook page.
Arts and Crafts — Pensacola Museum of Art is offering virtual exhibits and art activities to do at home. The Facebook group “Pensacola Mask Sewers are making hundreds of masks for first responders and medical workers.
Meditation — In these difficult and worrisome times, we could all use a little break from our own thoughts. Local yoga studios, Breathe Yoga and URU offer a variety of online meditation, yoga and sound bath experiences to calm your mind and spirit.
Retail and Small Business
Small businesses are offering a variety of services amid the outbreak—everything from pizza and cupcake kits to mechanics and cleaning services. Check out the Pensacola Retail & Small Business Offers Amid COVID-19 Facebook page for an ongoing list
Don’t forget the fur babies
Local shelters are in desperate need of fosters. If you have room in your heart and home, contact the Pensacola Humane Society at pensacolahumane.org.
Local pet pantries are supplying local families in need with food for their fur babies.
Pensacola Humane Society
5 North Q Street
Open noon til 5 daily
Supplies pet food to anyone in need.
400 Paws, Inc
1147 Creighton Road
Open: fourth Sunday of each month 1 til 3 pm
Apply for assistance at 400paws.org
5755 Washington Street, Milton
Open: Second Sunday of each month from 1 til 3 pm.
Apply for assistance at ahope4src.com
Communities stay social while maintaining physical distance
Porch Music – East Hill residents started a Walk the Hill event on Sunday evenings. Local musicians take to their porches to offer live music to passing neighbors. All CDC social distancing recommendations apply. Check the East Hill Neighborhood Association Facebook page for more info.
Art Walk — Old East Hill Residents have been staging neighborhood art and music walks. Local artists display their work in their front yards while musicians play tunes on their porches. All CDC social distancing recommendations apply. Check the Old East Hill Facebook page for more information.
Bear Walks — Many neighborhoods are placing teddy bears in their windows as a game for families taking their daily walks. Check your neighborhood association Facebook page.
Come together with purpose
A shortage of medical face masks has inspired local sewers and crafters to come together for a cause. The Pensacola Mask Sewers group has already made hundreds of masks for first responders and hospitals. We anticipate that number will reach well into the thousands.
Switching gears for Sanitizer
Perfect Plain Brewery has partnered with Rollins Distillery, GlowRage and the Florida Institute of Ultrasound to make large batches of hand sanitizer. The sanitizer contains over 60 percent alcohol and about half of the sanitizer produced goes directly to first responders and hospital staff for free. It is available to the public for a minimum donation of $5. Any proceeds go directly to their employees.