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BEASLEY MEDIA GROUP OFFICE HOURS UPDATE: Our office has re-opened for prize distribution, allowing you to claim your prize ONLY on Thursdays and Fridays between the hours of 8:30am and 5pm. You will need a photo ID to collect…

Coronavirus in Southwest Florida: The latest info, helpful resources

Income Assistance

  • For residents that are currently out of work, the Florida Reemployment Assistance Program can help you get monetary compensation while unemployed. For information on eligibility and the application process click here.

Utilities, Rent, Etc.

  • For water/utility assistance with bill payments request that residents of Lee County call (239) 533-8845 to discuss special payment arrangements.
  • TECO Gas and Electric has announced the suspension of disconnection services for residents who are unable to pay. This will continue through the end of April. For more information on their response to COVID-19 click here.
  • Lee County Electric Cooperative will also not be disconnecting services due to non-payment. For more updates from LCEC click here.
  • Charlotte County has suspended water and utility shut-offs due to the outbreak. Read the press release here.

Food Assistance

  • Lee County School District is utilizing the “Grab and Go” meal distribution for children 18 years and younger. For more details and distribution, locations follow this link. 
  • According to Collier County Public Schools’ website, a free meal pick-up program has been created for children 18 years and under. The pick-up will be available from 9 am to 1 pm and will be given two meals, breakfast, and lunch. For pick-up locations click here.
  • Charlotte County Public Schools’ Champs Café will continue to operate with free meals during the closure. For more information on pick-up locations click here.

Children & Families

  • Lee County has closed the public libraries, county-owned beaches, and suspended the LeeTram system as of March 18th, 2020. For more county closures visit their website here.
  • Lee County School District has expanded their school closures through April 15th. The county has also put together Chromebook distribution dates for students who do not own a device. Click here for more information.
  • Collier County has closed the fitness and community centers, aquatic sites and water features, libraries, beaches, etc. until March 31st. For more closures and information visits their website here.
  • Collier County Public Schools will be closed from March 23rd through April 15th.
  • Charlotte County has closed all the public libraries, recreations, and pools through April 12th, according to a March 18th press release.
  • Charlotte County Public Schools are running a technology survey to determine what students will need during the closures. Take the survey here.

Pet Care

  • In Lee County, a Community Pet Panty is available for residents who need resources to care for their pets. For information regarding the pet pantry, click here.

Support for Small Businesses

Small Business Administration Updated Disaster Assistance Loans (As of March 17th, 2020)

  • The U.S. Small Business Administration has updated its Disaster Assistance Loan criteria to support more small businesses. According to a recent press release from the SBA, the following criteria will have two immediate impacts:
    • Faster, Easier Qualification Processes
    • Expanded, Statewide Access to the SBA Disaster Assistance Loans.
  •  For more details on the SBA’s Disaster Assistance Loans visit their website here.
  • The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program is now available for small business owners located in Florida that may be experiencing economic damage due to COVID-19. Visit the Florida Disaster Loan website for more details.

Mental Health Support

  • The following 24/7 crisis hotlines provide free, confidential emotional support:
    • Disaster Distress Helpline: 800-985-5990
    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
    • Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 or visit veteranscrisisline.net/

Katherine Viloria is Beasley Media Group's Fort Myers Digital Content Manager. She loves to write, snap photos, and watch Grey's Anatomy. Connect with her on Instagram @alittlethisalittlekat