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Orange County to distribute masks, hand sanitizer to small businesses

County to give away 1 million masks and 200,000 bottles, but supplies won’t last.

Orange County is planning to distribute 1 million masks and 200,000 travel-size bottles of hand sanitizer to small businesses in the county starting next Monday.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings announced the plans Friday as he and other Central Florida leaders rolled out the latest on Orange County’s coronavirus crisis, highlighted by the good news that overnight from Thursday the county’s caseload increased by only four new cases of COVID-19, to 1,478 total cases through Friday morning.

“It speaks to the fact that we have flattened the curve here in Orange County. That’s good news as we open additional businesses as well,” Demings said.

As he announced the distribution of the masks and sanitizer next week, Demings also passed along Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ announcement that additional businesses, notably barber shops, hair salons, and nail salons, will be allowed to reopen on Monday. That’s something that Demings personally lobbied the Governor for last week.

To help businesses reopen, Orange County used part of the federal CARES Act aid money it received to purchase masks and hand sanitizer.

Kits of them will be made available to Orange County businesses that employ between three and 40 people, and which have had difficulty obtaining their own personal protective equipment necessary to reopen and work with the public.

“Although 1 million masks and 200,000 of these hand-sanitizer bottles sounds like a larger shipment, there are 90,000 small businesses throughout Orange County,” he said. “We intend to accommodate up to 20,000 of them.

“That was the supply we were able to get our hands on,” he added.

Distribution will begin on Monday from a half-dozen drive-up sites around the county, one in each Orange County Commission district. Supplies will be handed out in kits from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day until Friday, or until supplies run out.

Orange County small businesses that wish to receive the supplies and see where they may be picked up, must register with the county, through a website.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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