This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
A Crescent City woman is the seventh victim of coronavirus in Putnam County, according to the Florida Department of Health. The death was reported late Wednesday and comes after 27 new cases were announced in Putnam on July 8 bringing the total to 593 cases. Median age of the latest cases was 34 with people ranging from a baby to a 76-year-old Pomona Park man. In Flagler County 14 cases were reported with median age at 32. Total cases in Flagler are now 424. St. Johns County reported 98 cases with median age 39. Total is at 1,517 cases.
Palatka officials are again looking at restoring the former Central Academy. During the Palatka City Commission special meeting last week officials announced a $93,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to study what would be the best use of the building on Washington Street. Among possibilities is putting a business incubator in the building, a longtime dream of Commissioner Mary Lawson Brown. Mayor Terrell Hill also has suggested a black history museum and vocational center. In 1924 Central Academy became the first accredited black high school in the state of Florida. A previous attempt to restore the building ended with a $500,000 grant from the Florida Bureau of Historic Preservation having to be returned after grant requirements weren’t met. A citizens group originally got that grant but ownership of the building was later transferred from the school district to the Palatka Housing Authority and efforts bogged down. The building, which once served as the district’s bus depot, is basically a shell.
An effort to invoke a mandatory face mask order in St. Johns County failed Tuesday for the second time. County Commissioner Henry Dean, a former head of two state water management districts, last week tried to get a mandatory face mask rule passed but failed. Under Roberts Rules of Order he couldn’t make a motion at Tuesday’s meeting and although he asked no other commissioner would make the motion. The City of St. Augustine, which has passed a face mask rule, is facing a lawsuit over their decision.
More people are seeking testing for coronavirus. In Putnam County tests are available for free by contacting the call center at 386-329-1904. Mary Garcia, who heads the Florida Department of Health of Putnam County, says they’re now getting about 300 requests a day. Earlier they averaged 70 a day. In Flagler County four new testing centers have been added although they can only take about 70 people apiece each day. Testing facilities include the Flagler County health department and Daytona State Community College campus. New sites are Santa Maria Del Mar Catholic Church, First United Methodist Church of Bunnell, Flagler Pharmacy and Church on the Rock. In St. Johns County beginning today St. Johns County and Flagler Heath+ are offering free drive-thru testing Monday through Friday at Flagler Hospital. The testing is from 7 to 11 a.m. or until test kits run out. Go to Parking Lot B at 400 Health Park Blvd. Appointments are not necessary.
School districts in the area are beginning to release plans for reopening. Changes are having to be made after the state Department of Education said districts must reopen brick-and-mortar schools Aug. 10. The decision is affecting many areas and St. Johns County has announced students riding buses will have to wear masks. Putnam County parents Wednesday began receiving information from the district offices regarding enrollment. Options include traditional brick-and-mortar, digital learning or Putnam Virtual School. A decision must be made by parents or guardians by July 16 or students default to traditional brick-and-mortar schools.
If you’re wondering if you’re living up to your full potential, consider a posting on Facebook passed on by Anne Rainey Jones which reads: “I see people around my age mountain climbing. I feel good getting my leg through my underpants without losing my balance.”