Orange County commission meets in person for the first time since March when COVID-19 hit the region

Stephen Hudak, Orlando Sentinel
·2 min read

Orange County commissioners returned to in-person meetings Tuesday for the first time since March when an executive order suspended open-meeting rules and allowed the board to conduct public business through video-conferencing technology.

Commissioners, most wearing face masks, were separated from one another by Plexiglass dividers to guard against spread of the novel coronavirus, which has touched nearly every aspect of public and private life over the past eight months.

Attendance in chambers was restricted to 20 spectators who were required to heed social-distancing guidelines.

During the quick session, commissioners agreed to help pay for a police memorial at the Orange County Courthouse in honor of officers killed in the line of duty and listened to updates on relief programs to help families and small businesses crippled by the virus.

Of the memorial, Demings, whose four-decade career in law enforcement included service as the Orlando Police Chief and as Orange County Sheriff, said, “It will be put in place to honor the brave men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice here...”

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #93 is a partner on the project, expected to be finished by year’s end.

Public Safety Director Danny Banks briefed the board on COVID-19 statistics, including the climbing positivity rate over the past two weeks. He said the county will use federal-relief funds to provide free infection testing at Barnett Park through the end of the year.

County health-services staff tested over 800 people Monday, he said.

Meanwhile, families and businesses continue to seek financial help from the county which is offering one-time relief grants.

The application portal for individual and family assistance grants will reopen again at 8 a.m. Nov. 16 with new criteria.

The change will allow other adults (18 or older) from the same household to apply as individuals for assistance.

Previously, the rules restricted $1,000 grants to one person per household.

The county hopes to distribute $60 million in assistance to families hurt economically by the pandemic.

If you were approved earlier this year to receive CARES Act Funding, you are not eligible to apply this round.

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The money is part of the $243 million package Orange County received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act, a $2.2-trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed into law in March.

Any money not spent by Dec. 30 must be returned to Washington.


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