Gov. Ron DeSantis’ plans for reopening the state will mean changes for residents beginning Monday. The initiative is called “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step.” That translates to restaurants and retail stores being allowed to open Monday at 25 percent capacity. Some retailers already are gearing up. On Facebook owners of Urban Farmhouse on St. Johns Avenue in Palatka announced they’d open next Wednesday and urged customers to “Come as you are. Mask or no mask, whatever you are comfortable with.” Other merchants will be issuing similar imitations. Parks and other outdoor areas began reopening Wednesday. Hospital and surgical centers are being allowed to reopen which should help their bottom lines. Still closed are nursing homes and schools. Local governments that have stronger restrictions will take precedent over the governor’s initiative.Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties aren’t being allowed to open, due to high numbers of cases.
Numbers of overall coronavirus cases remained steady. In Putnam County the total stayed at 103. Flagler County is at 133. St. Johns County is at 207.
Two men are dead in St. Johns County after an apparent murder-suicide early Wednesday afternoon at Treasure Beach. A call to 9-1-1 around 1 p.m. brought deputies who found one man dead lying near a motorcycle. A couple of houses down another man was found dead in the street. Both men, who were in their 50s and were believed to know each other, had been shot. Detectives are investigating and think one man shot the other and then himself. What led to the shooting isn’t known. Names have not been released.
Political candidates are being reminded the deadline for candidates qualifying by petition is May 11th at noon. Changes that allow candidates to have supporters sign up on line has helped many gather needed names in order to qualify for election.
Florida Power & Light along with three other power companies in the state will be giving customers a break. The state Public Service Commission Tuesday approved proposals that will give customers a one-time savings in May for FPL, Duke Energy and Gulf Power customers. Tampa Electric Co. will spread the savings over the rest of the year. That funding is available because of lower-than-expected costs for natural gas that fuels power plants. Clay Electric earlier announced it would be lowering power costs for April by 25 percent for its customers. Hardships caused by coronavirus restrictions and layoffs were cited.
Florida National Guard continues to respond to the needs of the state during the coronavirus situation. Some 2,906 Guardsmen are on duty in support of the state’s response. Those citizen-soldiers and -airmen are operating 14 community based testing sites. So far 85,076 samples collections have been administered. Other members are working in the State Emergency Operations Center and local emergency management offices. Guard members are also supporting the Florida Department of Health with airport screening operations at seven airports.
Interlachen Soup Kitchen, which normally helps others, is looking for some help. They’re in need of a grant writer for their operation. If you can help, give Dave a call at 386-972-1045.
While school food services are providing breakfast and lunch giveaways four days a week, there’s still a need for many children on the weekends. In Putnam County the Feed the Need Backpack program provides support to children, sending backpacks filled with food home on the weekends. You can make a difference by dropping off items including soups, jelly, canned meat (i.e. tuna, chicken, Vienna sausage, Spam and potted meat) as well as peanut butter crackers, Ramen noodles and ravioli. Poptop cans and plastic jars are best. You can drop off items at Bramlitt’s Plumbing on State Road 19 in Palatka.