Last updated Thursday, March 26, 3:21 PM
Please note that, at this time, the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber office located at 1425 E. Vine St. will remain open. Please follow us on Facebook for immediate updates and changing information. In addition, check back with this page regularly as we update the information below.
The Downtown Kissimmee Area Council hosted a livestream on the Kissimmee Chamber Facebook page on Monday, March 16 at 10:30 am. The video from that livestream, which featured panelists from Osceola Regional Medical Center, Edward Jones, the Florida Small Business Development Center, and Osceola County Office of Emergency Management, can be viewed on Facebook and on our YouTube page.
Updates For and About Our Members
We will be providing updates on the operational statuses and practices of our members industry by industry. Check back here and on the industry-specific posts for changes and updates:
Event & Meeting Postponements and Cancellations
The following Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber and Kissimmee Chamber Area Council events have been postponed or canceled:
All events the week of March 16-20 were postponed to a TBD future date.
March 26 – Osceola Update – POSTPONED – New date TBD
March 30 – Business After Hours RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo Cattle Drive – CANCELED
If you belong to a leads group, please check with the president of your leads group for updates. All remaining Area Council board meetings for the month of March have been canceled. Inquire with email@example.com regarding any future potential changes to Area Council meeting times, dates, or locations.
Resources for Businesses
The Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber has collected a series of notices and resources for you and your business to aid you as you navigate the impacts of COVID-19 on our business community.
Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program
Governor DeSantis has activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, which can assist small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The Bridge Loan Program is managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. It will provide short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that have been economically impacted by COVID-19. The application period is now open and will run through May 8, 2020. The application can be accessed here. floridadisasterloan.org.
Business Damage Assessment Survey
Governor DeSantis has activated an emergency business damage assessment survey to assess the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Florida’s local business operations. The survey is managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and will evaluate businesses affected by COVID-19 and the impacts the virus has had on the local economy so actions to implement appropriate relief programs can begin. These surveys can be used to access the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan. The business damage assessment survey can be taken online at https://floridadisaster.biz/ . For assistance with the survey, please contact ESF18@em.myflorida.com.
Floridians whose employment has been negatively impacted because of mitigation efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 may be eligible to receive Reemployment Assistance. Click here for more information.
Goodwill is providing their Job Connections Centers’ services virtually. Call (407) 235-1541 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. They are also able to arrange video conferencing. See more here.
Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan Assistance Form
Access the SBA’s Disaster Loan Assistance Form here:
https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Information/PaperForms. Starting these forms now will put you ahead of the line once Florida is declared eligible.
Contact the SBA directly with questions or for assistance: 1-800-659-2955 or (800) 877-8339
The SBA has also provided provided a Guide for Business, which will help employers plan and respond to COVID-19 at this comprehensive site: http://bit.ly/SmallBusinessAdminInfo
Florida Department of Health Tookits
Visit FDOH’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage for information and guidance regarding COVID-19 in Florida, which includes The COVID-19 Toolkit with FDOH flyers and videos, the number of Florida cases by county, and much more.
The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) issues regular updates related to COVID-19 here- http://www.floridahealth.gov/newsroom/index.html.
For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling (866) 779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours per day. Inquiries may also be emailed to COVIDemail@example.com.
For info relating specifically to businesses visit https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/businesses/
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Stay up-to-date with the CDC here
If you think you may have contracted COVID-19 or that you might need testing, consult this CDC self-checker.
The CDC has specific guidance for variety of settings and organizations here: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html.
Osceola County COVID-19 Information Page
osceola.org/covid19 contains local information on COVID-19.
The County has added a COVID Financial Assistance tab to the Osceola.org website as well. It provides links for both citizens and businesses in need of help during and after the pandemic. You can also call 407-702-2275.
Prospera is an economic development, nonprofit organization specialized in providing bilingual assistance to Hispanic entrepreneurs trying to establish or expand their business. If you are an Hispanic-owned small business, contact Prospera at 407-428-5872 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here for more info.
Gunster has put together a page of resources and insights on potential business and legal issues that may arise as a result of COVID-19. View the page here and sign up for their e-seminar on March 20 at 10:00 AM
Florida Small Business Development Center
Find a document on business contingency and continuation plans from the FSBDC here: http://bit.ly/FloridaSBDCBusinessContinuation
Identifying Critical Infrastructure
Click here for a guide to identifying critical infrastructure from the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
Experience Kissimmee is asking their accommodations partners who have lost business due to COVID-19 to fill out this form.
They are asking all of their partners to give an update on their operating status by filling out this form.
To better understand and measure the impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s tourism industry, VISIT FLORIDA has created a data dashboard to track key economic indicators and trends, including:
- Hotel demand
- Vacation rental bookings
- Airline capacity
- Web traffic relating to vacation planning
This one-of-a-kind VISIT FLORIDA dashboard will be constantly updated with the latest information and insight into the impact of COVID-19. For more information and to view the data dashboard, click here.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce Coronavirus Resource Page
Information business leaders can use to prepare, both internally and externally, for potential impacts from the Coronavirus. This webpage includes important links from Governor DeSantis’ office, the Emergency Operations Center, Centers for Disease Control, Florida Department of Health and our partners at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and it will be updated regularly. https://www.flchamber.com/follow-facts-not-fear/
If you wish to receive updates directly from the Florida Chamber, sign up here.
US Chamber of Commerce
Resources and guidelines for businesses from the US Chamber of Commerce: https://www.uschamber.com/coronavirus
World Health Organization – Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19
Governor’s Executive Order on Restaurants, Clubs, and Nightclubs
Find the governor’s full Executive Order on Restaurants, Clubs, and Nightclubs HERE.
Or, read an outline HERE.
Since this order, the governor has banned the serving of food an alcohol on restaurant premises.
Resources for Residents & Businesses
Florida Department of Health – Osceola Testing Criteria
FDOH-Osceola will facilitate testing if you are experiencing fever, cough or shortness of breath and meet any of the following criteria:
- Travel to or from a geographic area with widespread community transmission within the last 14 days.
- Traveled internationally or taken a cruise within the last 14 days.
- Close contact with a person with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 (coronavirus) within the last 14 days.
- Persons 65 and older with chronic health conditions.
- Any immunocompromised person.
Those who meet criteria should contact their health care provider. The health care provider will work with the local County Health Department (CHD) to determine if they should be tested for COVID-19. If you do not have a health care provider, contact the local CHD. Please call ahead before visiting your health care provider or local CHD unless you are experiencing an emergency.
For more information on COVID-19, please visit the Florida Department of Health’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage.
For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling 1 (866) 779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours a day. Inquiries may also be emailed to COVIDemail@example.com.
Orlando Health Hotline
The Orlando Health COVID-19 page can help you stay informed about this evolving situation. https://www.orlandohealth.com/covid-19
Orlando Health has also launched a hotline for patients and the community to obtain information about COVID-19. By calling (877) 321COVID (877-321-2684), consumers can get accurate information about COVID-19 from trained Orlando Health representatives. The Orlando Health COVID-19 Hotline will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for as long as the resource is needed.
AdventHealth Phone Service
In an effort to equip the public with the facts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, AdventHealth is launching a free phone service for Floridians who have questions about the virus and will provide an opportunity to speak with a nurse as appropriate.
By Phone: 877-VIRUSHQ (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
City of Kissimmee
For information on the City of Kissimmee’s response to COVID-19 visit www.kissimmee.org/coronavirus.
Osceola County School District
The school district will transition to digital learning beginning March 30. To access resources and assistance with the digital learning process visit the school district’s resource page here: osceolaschools.net/coronavirus_information
Free Meals for Children
For free meals for children in the state of Florida text FLKIDSMEALS to 211-211 or call 211.
The School District of Osceola County will also be providing meals to children under 18 at 12 locations around the county from March 23 to April 15, 2020 between the hours of 9:30 and 11:00 am. Find more info here www.osceolaschools.net/departments/school_nutrition_services
Price Gouging Hotline
The Florida Attorney General has activated the price gouging hotline for anyone to report coronavirus-related price gouging. Incidents should be reported at 1-866-9NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226) or online at visiting MyFloridaLegal.com.
US State Department Travel Advisory Website
For information on travel advisories issues by the US State Department, please visit the Travel Advisory Website.
New York Times: “Answers to your Coronavirus Questions“
The New York Times has created this free download with answers to many of your coronavirus questions from how to clean your phone to stock market concerns. Download it as a pdf here.
News Updates Regarding Coronavirus
Federal Relief Package
The US Senate has passed a $2 trillion Coronavirus relief package that will include direct payments to Americans, an aggressive expansion of unemployment insurance, billions of dollars in aid to large and small businesses and a new wave of significant funding for the health care industry. Read the full act here.
COVID-19 in Osceola County
Update: Wednesday, March 25: A “Stay at Home” order has been issued for all Osceola County residents and non-essential business beginning Thursday, March 26 at 11 pm and last through April 9. Read the full order here. A similar order for Orange County will go into effect at the same time.
Update: Friday, March 20: Osceola County has issued a curfew beginning March 20 between 11:00 PM and 5:00 AM. The same curfew is in place in Orange County.
Update: Wednesday, March 18: Starting Friday, March 20, Osceola County, the City of Kissimmee, and the City of St. Cloud will close their facilities to the public. This includes libraries, the Osceola County Tax Collector, and the Osceola County Property Appraiser. Animal Services is available by appointment only.
Update: Monday, March 16: Osceola County and the City of Kissimmee have declared a state of emergency. As of Wednesday, March 18 eight cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Osceola County.
Osceola County Property Appraiser
The Osceola County Property Appraiser’s Office has granted all Tangible Personal Property (TPP) accounts an automatic 45-day extension to file their TPP return. The deadline for all TPP Returns is Friday, May 15, 2020. Please note that while you are not required to submit a request form for the extension, all TPP Returns and supporting documentation must be submitted to the Property Appraiser’s Office by Friday, May 15, 2020. You may utilize our online filing system, or mail your TPP Return to our office. Any supporting documentation can be e-mailed to PA-Tangible@property-appraiser.org. The Property Appraiser’s Office is not currently open to the public.
On Friday, March 20, Governor DeSantis banned all Florida restaurants from serving food or alcohol on premises. Click here for updated info on the take out and delivery options available from our member restaurants.
Publix Senior Shopping Hours
Publix supermarkets will now offer designated senior shopping hours on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from 7:00 am to 8:00 am. This hour of shopping is intended for individuals age 65 and over. Publix has also moved ahead with plans to install plexiglass barriers in all of its 1200 Florida stores to protect its customers and staff.
As of 8:00 am on Thursday, March 19, the Central Florida Expressway Authority has stopped cash collection on toll roads to help prevent the spread of the virus.
School District Closings
Update Friday, March 20: The School District of Osceola County has announced that it will move to digital learning beginning Monday, March 30, 2020.
The Florida Department of Education has stated that the earliest resumption of K-12 schools will be April 15. For Osceola County, this includes all K-12 schools, VPK and Extended Learning Programs, Osceola Technical College, and the Adult Learning Center Osceola. The April 15 date will be re-evaluated every two weeks. All standardized testing in the state of Florida has been cancelled.
The district’s School Nutrition Services Department will provide pack-and-go free meals for students from March 23 to April 15 between the hours of 9:30 and 11:00 am at the following sites:
–Michigan Avenue Elementary – 2015 S. Michigan Avenue in St. Cloud
–Lakeview Elementary – 2900 5th Street in St. Cloud
–Ventura Elementary – 275 Waters Edge Drive in Kissimmee
–Denn John Middle – 2001 Denn John Lane in Kissimmee
–Central Avenue Elementary – 500 W. Columbia Avenue in Kissimmee
–Osceola High – 420 S. Thacker Avenue in Kissimmee
–Kissimmee Middle – 2410 Dyer Boulevard in Kissimmee
–Sunrise Elementary – 1925 Ham Brown Road in Kissimmee (Poinciana)
–KOA Elementary – 5000 Koa Street in Kissimmee (Poinciana)
–Deerwood Elementary – 3701 Marigold Avenue in Kissimmee (Poinciana)
–Westside K-8 School
Meals will be available for pickup between 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. at each location. Families can go to school/site nearest them to pick up food even if they do not attend that school. Families will drive up in the bus loops, and they will be handed meals through the vehicle window. Students must accompany the parent/adult when they are picking up the meals, and meals can be provided to children not of school age if they are in the group picking up the food.
City of Kissimmee
On Friday, March 13, 2020, the City of Kissimmee adopted guidelines to postpone all events and gatherings held in City property or any venues with an anticipated attendance of more than 250 people. Due to this decision, the Kowtown Festival scheduled for Saturday, March 21, has been canceled. Also, the Cattle Drive scheduled for Monday, March 30, has been canceled.
President Trump declares a National State of Emergency
With the president’s declaration of a National State of Emergency, he unleashed billions of dollars in federal funding and ordered all states to set up emergency operations centers. The declaration will unleash $50 billion nationally in addition to funding available following Florida Governor DeSantis’ previous declaration of a state of emergency in Florida. In addition, hospitals have been ordered to activate emergency preparedness plans, and the FDA has approved a new COVID-19 test, which will make an additional half million tests available soon. The president has also signed executive orders to wave interest on student loans held by federal government agencies and purchase oil reserves.
State of Emergency Declared in Florida
Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-52 declaring a State of Emergency for COVID-19 and directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management to activate the Florida Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to a Level II, to coordinate the state’s response to COVID-19. Last week, the governor issued Executive Order 20-51 directing the State Surgeon General to declare a public health emergency.
For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 in Florida, please visit the Florida Department of Health’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage. For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact the state’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling (866) 779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours per day. Inquiries may also be emailed to COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org.
What You Should Know
COVID-19 can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, including when an individual coughs or sneezes. These droplets may land on objects and surfaces. Other people may contract COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days following exposure. Most people recover from COVID-19 without needing special treatment. The elderly and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The Department recommends everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
- Staying home when you are sick and avoiding contact with persons in poor health;
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
- Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then disposing of the tissue;
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing;
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty; and
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
The CDC does not recommend that asymptomatic, healthy people wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
When You Should Contact a Health Care Provider and Local County Health Department (CHD)
If you experience fever, cough or shortness of breath within 14 days after your travel or close contact with someone who has traveled to or from any destination under a CDC travel advisory. Call a health care provider and local CHD and mention your recent travel or close contact, unless you are experiencing an emergency. Please call ahead before visiting a health care provider or local CHD.
If you experience fever, cough or shortness of breath after close contact with a person with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, call a health care provider and local CHD. The health care provider will work with the local CHD to determine if you should be tested for COVID-19. Please call ahead before visiting a health care provider or local CHD.
How You Can Help
Purchase Gift Cards for Local Businesses and Restaurants
Visit your favorite local, independently owned establishments (or, if possible, go online) and purchase a gift card directly from the business. This will help their bottom line in the short term and give you a fun evening out or exciting purchase to look forward to at a later date!
Community Hope Center
The Community Hope Center is looking for donations of the following:
- Non-perishable foods for their pantry
- Soap, paper towels, hand sanitizer, hand wipes, and tissues
- cleaning supplies (large and small garbage bags and other waste disposal supplies)
- re-sealable zip-top plastic bags
- disinfectant (bleach, Lysol, other household disinfectants)
- Monetary gifts to help us secure hygiene stations at the CHC
Osceola County Council on Aging
The Osceola Council on Aging has need for donations for their food pantry.
Help Now of Osceola County
Help Now of Osceola, Inc. will remain open and ready to assist during the coronavirus period of isolation.
Their crisis hotline is available 24 hours a day at 407-847-8562.
Tips for Telecommuting or Working Remotely
We realize that many of our members may have adopted work-from-home policies for some of their employees. Our friends at Embrace Families have pooled the experience of their telecommuting employees to provide a list of tips and practices that may be useful to employees as they shift from office work to working remotely:
- Designate a room or space as your “home office;” try not to work from where you sit when you get home from work.
- Let your kids and family members know that when you are in your “home office,” you are at work; call or text if you need something.
- This may be particularly challenging even for existing telecommuters with schools closed, businesses disrupted, etc.
- Follow the same basic routine in the morning for “getting ready for work;” don’t stay in your pajamas, etc.
- Maintain regular hours; take breaks and your lunch hour at the same time you would if you were at the office.
- Get out of the “home office” at the end of the day. (But follow social distancing guidelines during this pandemic.)
- There may be technical issues as you transition to remote work. Consult one of your team members who is “good with technical stuff” if possible.
- Schedule team or unit conference calls multiple times per week (to eliminate feelings of isolation).
- Call other co-workers or team members daily.
- Over-communicate with your supervisor and/or team members.
Working Remotely Virtual Seminar
Our friends at REACH also have much experience in working remotely. Check out some tips from their founder Kelly Trace here.