Current Events

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) Update - last updated March 23 at 4:15 p.m.

EOC activation level

March 23 at 4:15 p.m. Effective 12 a.m. (midnight) March 24, 2020, an Emergency Stay at Home and Close All Non-Essential Businesses order will go into effect. Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe and Alachua County Commissioner Robert Hutchinson came together today for joint announcement at 3 p.m. on the latest emergency declaration for our area. 

March 19 at 5 p.m. Audio from last night's Telephone Town Hall is now available online

RTS Changes: In order to help protect our community against the spread of COVID-19, the City of Gainesville’s Regional Transportation System will implement additional changes to bus routes beginning Monday, March 23. RTS bus service will end daily at 11 p.m. In addition, bus service has been suspended on Routes 39, 76 and 800.

To facilitate social distancing, buses will operate with no more than 50% capacity with no more than 25 riders per bus. In accordance with Florida Department of Health guidelines, the city asks that individuals refrain from riding the bus:

  • who are a contact of a known or suspected case of COVID-19.
  • who are 65 or older with underlying health conditions.
  • who are immune-compromised.
  • who feel ill.
  • who have been exposed to someone with a respiratory illness in the last 14 days.
  • who have chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease.
  • who have traveled internationally within the last 14 days, especially to destinations under a Level 3 travel advisory or higher as designated by the US Department of State.
  • who are immune-compromised in a geographic area with widespread community transmission of COVID-19.

State guidelines to doctors regarding COVID-19 testing

Alachua County medical providers have been kept current on COVID-19 testing criteria, including the availability of commercial lab options. Individuals who have a primary care provider are encouraged to call their doctor prior to going to the doctor's office with an illness. When calling your doctor's office, you should be prepared to tell them the reason for requesting a coronavirus (COVID-19) test. DO NOT expect to be tested if you do not meet the criteria.

Screening Criteria

If your patient is exhibiting symptoms of acute lower respiratory illness (e.g., fever, cough, and shortness of breath) and meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • Persons who have had a close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 case
  • Persons hospitalized with acute lower respiratory illness of unknown origin
  • History of travel to or from an affected geographic area with widespread community transmission
  • History of international travel or a cruise
  • 65 years old or older with chronic health conditions
  • Immunocompromised persons

Expanded Criteria

If your patient does not meet the above criteria, testing may occur based on clinician's judgment.

  • The health care provider is responsible for specimen collection, handling and shipping. Please follow CDC guidance and use proper PPE.
  • Collected specimens should be processed within your health care facility or a commercial laboratory (e.g., LabCorp and Quest).
  • Follow CDC guidance for specimen collection, handling and shipping.

Testing

If an individual meets criteria for testing, wear appropriate PPE and initiate contact and airborne precautions.

  • The health care provider is responsible for specimen collection, handling, and shipping. Please follow CDC guidance.
  • Collected specimens should be processed within your health care facility, if available; a commercial laboratory (e.g., LabCorp and Quest); or a Florida Bureau of Public Health Laboratory (BPHL)
  • Before sending specimens to BPHL, notify your local county health department CHD Epidemiology Contacts.
  • Health care providers may consult local county health departments for additional guidance as needed.

March 18 at 5 p.m. City Manager issues directive on city operations/closing

Effective 5 p.m. today, City Hall and other city facilities will be closed to the public until further notice. Exceptions include the Gainesville Police Department lobby, Gainesville Regional Utilities' main lobby and certain parks and public restrooms.

The City of Gainesville will continue to function within the limits of this working model, which includes some employees working remotely and some reporting to work. City employees who are unable to work remotely will work with their supervisors to accommodate a staggered working schedule.

There will be no interruption of critical services, such as fire and rescue and police response.

All questions or concerns regarding operations during this time should be directed to the appropriate department. A department directory is available here.

We thank you for your cooperation during this time. The health of our neighbors and community builders is a top priority. Please follow all suggestions on important hygiene measures from the CDC and stay safe.

More information about assistance to our neighbors and our small businesses can be found among the FAQs on our website. We continue to post updates on our websiteFacebook and Twitter  pages. 

March 17 at 6:30 p.m. In response to concerns from the Gainesville business community and in the interests of the health and safety of our neighbors, City Manager Lee Feldman has issued an emergency directive

It amends yesterday’s executive order as follows:

  • Large scale retail establishments have been added to the list of essential establishments that are excluded from the order. These include pharmacies, grocery stores, convenience stores, private offices, banks, hotels, hospitals, medical service providers, medical supply stores, hardware stores, gasoline service stations, automotive supply/repair centers, airports and bus stations.
  • All non-essential places of public assembly that serve food and/or beverages between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. will be limited to service at tables with access to hand sanitizer. 
  • In accordance with the governor’s Executive Order No. 20-68, all non-essential places of public assembly that serve food and/or beverages between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. must ensure a 6-foot minimum distance between any group of patrons and limit parties to no more than 10 individuals. Per the governor’s executive order, any licensee authorized to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on premises that derives more than 50 percent of its gross revenues from the sale of alcoholic beverages shall suspend all sale of alcoholic beverages for 30 days beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 17.

March 17 at 2:15 p.m. New FAQ webpage available

March 17 at 12:15 p.m. update

  • Four UF students have tested positive.
  • By the order of Gov. Ron Desantis, bars and nightclubs are closed, effective 5 p.m. today.
  • All City of Gainesville board meetings are canceled through March 30.
  • UF announced classes will remain online for the remainder of the spring semester.

March 17 at 9 a.m.: Clarification on Business Impacts

  • Exceptions include grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and emergency services.
  • Available hours of operation are between 6 a.m.- 9 p.m.
  • Deliveries and take out can still happen after 9 p.m. (from 9 p.m.-6 a.m.)
  • Occupancy is 50 patrons or 50% occupancy, whichever is fewer
  • Patrons must be seated and hand sanitizer must be available at the table.
  • No standing food or drink service at the bar or otherwise
  • No bar seating

For the latest information on the city's action in response to COVID-19, please visit our website at cityofgainesville.org. Dial 3-1-1 on your phone to be connected with the latest COVID-19 information and resources. You may also send inquires to COVID19@CityofGainesville.org.

March 16 at 9 p.m.: The City of Gainesville has declared a local state of emergency regarding prevention and response to COVID-19, effective March 16, 2020. The executive order limits the number of persons in any assembly to 50 or less whether that be for worship, entertainment, eating, drinking, amusement, awaiting transportation or similar uses. Any business entity or establishment that fails to comply will be granted one warning and an opportunity to reduce the number of persons to comply with the order or they will be subject to closure. The local state of emergency has been declared for the next seven days and can be extended as needed. The declaration will help reduce the vulnerability of our neighbors to COVID-19 and unlock federal funds to help the city as it works to fight the spread of COVID-19.

March 16 at 7 p.m. Gainesville's declaration of emergency signed by Mayor Poe

March 16 at 10:15 a.m. Special Commission Meeting today at 3:30 p.m.
The Gainesville City Commission has scheduled an emergency meeting today at 3:30 p.m. in the City Hall Auditorium in response to COVID-19 preparation. The meeting will be streamed live on Facebook, the City of Gainesville website and TV12.

Notice on Park/Facility Closures and Suspension of City Recreation Programs
The City of Gainesville is working with our community partners around the clock to ensure the safety and public health of our neighbors as it relates to COVID-19. City administration is conducting daily interdepartmental calls to monitor the progression of COVID-19 to ensure we stay informed and prepared to respond as needed. We are also closely following the guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health

As this situation continues to evolve, please take a moment to review the most recent actions the City of Gainesville has implemented to keep our organization and community safe and strong.

Effective today, the city will begin closing several of its parks, playgrounds, gymnasiums, pools and recreation facilities until further notice. In addition, all previously scheduled programs, events and recreation activities in city facilities have been temporarily suspended.

*Community Gardens and Tot Lots will remain open at this time. *Reserve Park and Green Acres Park community gardens will be closed in accordance with associated park closures.

Open-air parks, fields and trails that will remain open for public use include:

  • 29th Road Nature Park
  • Boulware Springs**
  • Broken Arrow Bluff Nature Park
  • Citizens Field
  • Clear Lake Nature Park
  • Colclough Pond Nature Park
  • Depot Park**
  • Flatwood Conservation Area
  • Gum Root Park
  • Haisley Lynch Park
  • Hibiscus Park
  • John Mahon Nature Park
  • Loblolly Woods
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Complex**
  • Morningside Nature Center**
  • Palm Point Nature Park
  • Split Rock Conservation Area
  • Springhill Park
  • Sweetwater Wetlands Park**

**Buildings, pools and playgrounds at these facilities will be closed and activities suspended.

Please visit www.CityofGainesville.org for maps and addresses to these areas. Questions or comments? Please use the myGNV  app (or www.myGNV.org) or email COVID19@cityofgainesville.org.

This is a devastating blow for all of us, but we ask for your patience as we actively work to implement solutions that serve the best interest of our community.

Rest assured, members of the City Emergency Management Team remain vigilant to ensure a healthy environment for you and our community. We’ll continue to keep you informed.

Telephone Town Hall
The City of Gainesville is hosting a live Telephone Town Hall event about COVID-19 at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, March 18. Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe, Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Health and Family Medicine Dr. Lisa Chacko and members of the City of Gainesville Emergency Management Team will provide an update about the virus and field questions from callers. The event is open to everyone by phone regardless of district. Neighbors with landlines are invited to register in advance and receive a call back to get connected automatically at the time of the event. Cell phone users can dial indirectly by calling 1-888-410-3427.

March 15 at 9:45 p.m. The Gainesville City Commission is holding an emergency meeting Monday, March 16 at 3:30 p.m. in response to COVID-19. Location TBA.

Effective Tuesday, March 17, food for children age 0-18 will also be available at Gainesville Fire Station No. 1 (old location at 427 S. Main St.) and the Pineridge neighborhood clubhouse. The Waldo Town Center (formerly Waldo Community School) has been added to the distribution list effective Monday.

March 15 at 12:15 p.m. Latest COVID-19 Data

106 – Florida residents

7 – Florida residents diagnosed and isolated outside of Florida

9 – Non-Florida residents

Deaths (Florida residents): 4

Number of negative test results: 478

Number of pending test results: 221

Number of people under public health monitoring: 365 – currently being monitored (1,413 monitored to date)

Non-essential Travel

The CDC recommends that older adults or those who have certain medical conditions consider postponing any travel. More travel information

Event Cancellations and Facility Closures

In accordance with the recommendations put forth by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the City of Gainesville has cancelled all city events of more than 250 people and smaller gatherings that may bring persons together from multiple parts of the country.

The city continues to evaluate the inventory of private events and activities scheduled at its indoor facilities and parks. We will offer further guidance in the coming days regarding possible facility and park closures. 

Stay Calm and Stick to Credible Sources

Many myths are being promulgated and the Florida Department of Health has advised that COVID-19 can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates. The best way to protect yourself is by frequently cleaning your hands. COVID-19 myth busters

Tune in for the City of Gainesville Telephone Town Hall at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, March 18 to get the facts and updates about COVID-19. Mayor Lauren Poe and members of the City of Gainesville Emergency Management Team will provide an update about the virus and field questions from callers. Neighbors with landlines are encouraged to register in advance. You will receive a call back to be connected automatically at the time of the event. Cell phone users can dial in directly by calling 1-888-410-3427.

In the meantime, if you have questions the COVID-19 call center is available 24/7 at 1-866-779-6121 or COVID-19@flhealth.gov.

March 14 at 5:15 p.m.: During the week of March 16, free packaged meals will be given out to all children aged 0-18 at Bishop Middle, Eastside High, Buchholz High, Gainesville High, Newberry High, Santa Fe High, Hawthorne High and SWAG Community Center as follows:

  • Monday, March 16: from 8-9 a.m., children will be provided with a packaged breakfast; from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., children will be provided with a packaged lunch and a packaged breakfast for the next morning
  • Tuesday, March 17-Thursday, March 19: from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., children will be provided with a packaged lunch and a packaged breakfast for the next morning

March 14 at 11:45 a.m.: Registration for the Telephone Town Hall is live. Register to be sure you are part of the phone call at https://tinyurl.com/TTHGNV.

March 13 at 5:30 p.m.: Alachua County Public Schools will be closed Monday, March 16-Friday, March 27. The district is finalizing plans to provide meals to students from March 16-19.  Santa Fe College announced today that they will also begin moving classes online where possible Beginning March 16. UF had previously announced they were moving to all online classes beginning March 16. 

March 13 at 4 p.m.: Event Update - The GCRA 10-Year Reinvestment Plan Unveiling scheduled for March 17 has been postponed.  

COVID-19 Telephone Town Hall The city will host an informational Telephone Town Hall Wednesday, March 18 at 6:45 p.m. Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe, and members of the City of Gainesville Emergency Management Team will provide an update and field questions from callers. Stay tuned for registration information.

3-1-1 Critical Information has been activated Call to get contact information for multiple agencies and information sources.

Changes to City Services/Operations

  • RTS will begin modified reduced service beginning Monday, March 16. Visit www.go-rts.com for more information.
  • No new city events will be scheduled at this time.
  • All tours of city facilities are suspended for the next 30 days.
  • Interior visits of occupied spaces for inspections and other observation duties performed by units including code enforcement and housing have been suspended indefinitely, until otherwise advised.*

*This suspension does not apply to our public safety workers who are tasked with delivering critical life-saving services.

March 13 at 12 p.m.: If you have symptoms of believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19, calling the Health Department before calling your doctor is no longer required. Individuals who have a primary care provider are encouraged to call their provider prior to going to the office with an illness. When calling your doctor’s office, you should be prepared to tell them the reason for requesting a coronavirus (COVID-19) test.

March 13 at 10 a.m.: The Florida Department of Health has announced new positive cases of COVID-19 coronavirus in Florida including a 24-year-old female in Alachua County. This individual is isolated and will continue to remain isolated until cleared by public health officials. This is a travel-related case associated with travel outside the U.S. The threat in Alachua County remains low. Information about additional cases is available here.

March 12: Out of an abundance of caution and in our continued effort to ensure the safety and health of our community, the City of Gainesville has opted to postpone next month’s Longest Table event and JestFest. In addition, other events including CommUNITY Fest and IndiaFest, previously scheduled for March 14 at our city parks, have been cancelled by the promoters. No new city events will be scheduled at this time and all tours of city facilities are suspended for the next 30 days. The schedule of city meetings is being evaluated as the situation evolves.

The City of Gainesville continues to advise our neighbors in accordance with recommendations consistent with the CDC and Florida Department of Health regarding attendance of any event or mass gathering. You should not attend if:

  • You are a contact to a known or suspected case of COVID-19
  • You are over the age of 65 with underlying health conditions
  • You are immune compromised
  • You are ill
  • You have been exposed to someone with a respiratory illness in the last 14 days
  • You have chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease
  • You have traveled internationally within the last 14 days, especially to destinations under a level 3 travel advisory
  • You are immune-compromised in a geographic area with widespread community transmission of COVID-19

For more information on mass gatherings, visit the CDC Mass Gatherings COVID-19 website.

EXPOSURE: If you have returned from any international travel or a cruise in the last 14 days and are experiencing fever, cough or shortness of breath, contact the Alachua County Health Department Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at 352-334-8810. The after hours number is 352-334-7900.

For current Coronavirus (COVID-19) information, visit the City of Gainesville’s website, the City of Gainesville Facebook page and the City of Gainesville Twitter feed. You may also call the Coronavirus Information Line at 866-779-6121, visit the Florida Department of Health website, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).