• State of the Chamber - April 2020
  • COVID-19 Resources

  • These are difficult times for all of us, from our businesses to our families. Restaurants were one of the first hit with a closing order & some have opted to shut down completely. Many are trying to remain available for take-out and/or delivery. They need your support.

    Essential services workers still need to eat and may be too exhausted to cook at the end of a long day. Even when you enjoy cooking, grocery shopping can make your options somewhat limited. You can also purchase a gift card now for future use, or gift it to a friend whose sudden unemployment is causing hardship. We're all in this together!

    We've put together a guide to some of your options. Please note that things are changing quickly these days & we suggest you confirm availability yourself. Click the hashtag above to see our most recent list of options!

  • The Florida Dept of Health is asking us all to take a brief survey to gather information on how they can better serve us. Information is GOLDEN in combating this virus.

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    Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Announces Actions Taken to Make Accessing Reemployment Assistance More User Friendly

     

     

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) announced multiple actions taken to improve the ability for Floridians to access the Reemployment Assistance program. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, DEO is seeing historic increases in Floridians filing for Reemployment Assistance. Last week, Governor DeSantis signed Executive Order 20-93, directing DEO and other executive agencies to take all necessary actions to improve the Reemployment Assistance program.

     

    “I want to thank Governor DeSantis for providing my agency with the resources needed to assist Floridians as quickly as possible,” said Ken Lawson, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “It is imperative that my team can provide multiple avenues to Floridians who have lost their jobs and been impacted by COVID-19. We are all hands-on deck throughout the state working with every state agency and resource we have, and we will not rest until the issues are resolved.”

     

    Additional Ways to Apply for Reemployment Assistance

    As many Floridians do not have access to a computer at this time, Governor DeSantis has instructed DEO to make paper Reemployment Assistance applications available for Floridians.

     

    • Beginning this week, CareerSource locations across the state will be providing paper applications and assisting Floridians with submitting their Reemployment Assistance applications. Visit www.CareerSourceFlorida.com for information and center locations.

     

    • FedEx is offering free printing and mailing of Reemployment Assistance paper applications at over 100 storefronts across the state.

     

                        Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

                        P.O. Box 5350

                        Tallahassee, FL 32314-5350

     

    Additionally, to make it easier for Floridians to receive Reemployment Assistance, Governor DeSantis waived:

     

    • The waiting week, so individuals can claim their very first week of Reemployment Assistance. 

     

    • The work search and work registration requirements so individuals filing for Reemployment Assistance are not required to register in Employ Florida or submit information on a biweekly basis regarding the employers that they contacted each week while the state mitigates the spread of COVID-19.

     

    Technology

    DEO has worked with the Department of Management Services to dramatically enhance the capability of the online application system for Reemployment Assistance, CONNECT.

     

    • DEO has installed 72 new servers from the state’s back up data center in Winter Haven to increase capacity. The system can now handle up to 120,000 simultaneous connections by individuals filing claims. This allows for greater capacity than the 20,000 simultaneous connections that the system has been experiencing recently.

     

    • An additional 10 servers are being installed to assist the CONNECT system this week.

     

    “Governor DeSantis is bringing all resources to the table to respond to an unprecedented volume of need,” said Jonathan R. Satter, Secretary of the Florida Department of Management Services. “Our DMS team is committed to supporting DEO in getting Floridians the assistance they desperately need at this time. We will continue to allocate the technical and personnel resources necessary to provide Floridians the level of service they expect and deserve.”

     

    Providing Additional Customer Service Support

    During these historic times, the Governor has supported DEO by making resources available to assist with helping more Floridians as quickly as possible. Last week, DEO had nearly 200 staff working on the claims process for Reemployment Assistance.

     

    • Beginning today, Tuesday, April 7, more than 500 individuals will be providing support for the Reemployment Assistance claims process through contracts with customer call centers, CareerSource center staff and state employees.

     

    • By next week, that number will more than double when additional contracted staff, state employees and local workforce development boards are added to the team.

     

    The Florida Department of Revenue has provided DEO with 579 additional employees to begin processing Reemployment Assistance applications. This week, more than 2,300 state employees have volunteered to be available to answer calls, reply to emails and process applications.

     

    “The Department of Revenue is eager to assist the Department of Economic Opportunity in verifying the applications for Reemployment Assistance during this statewide health emergency. DOR has nearly 600 experienced employees who are ready to mobilize for this all-hands-on-deck effort,” said Dr. Jim Zingale Florida Department of Revenue.

     

    CARES Act Update

    The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, expands Reemployment Assistance benefits. DEO is working diligently to incorporate the new provisions of the CARES Act to ensure all Floridians who are eligible get their full amount of benefits. DEO will issue additional information about Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance as it becomes available. Benefits will be paid from the date they became eligible under the CARES Act. At this time, individuals who apply for Reemployment Assistance whose employment was negatively impacted as a result of COVID-19 will follow the same application, review and payment process as all applicants for Reemployment Assistance in Florida. 

     

    For more information about Reemployment Assistance benefits and how to apply, visit site www.FloridaJobs.org/COVID-19. Any Floridian whose employment has been negatively impacted as a result of COVID-19 to visit www.FloridaJobs.org/COVID-19 and watch a short video on how to apply. 

     

     

    About DEO

     

     

    The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity combines the state’s economic, workforce and community development efforts, expediting economic development projects to fuel job creation in competitive communities and promote economic resiliency. For more information, including valuable resources for employers and job seekers, please visit www.floridajobs.org.

     

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    Florida Department of Economic Opportunity 107 E. Madison Street Tallahassee, FL 32399 | 850.245.7110 media@deo.myflorida.com | www.floridajobs.org

     

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  • March 31, 2020

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

     

    CONTACT:

    John Riordan

     

    Media Release           

    COVID-19: Finding Calm Amongst the Chaos

    By: Vintee Narang, MD, Psychiatrist at Community Health Centers – Forest City

    As a community, we find ourselves to be under a great deal of pressure these days. As healthcare workers, we are in the forefront of this battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. Life outside of work has also become increasingly stressful, as we often find ourselves worrying about the well-being of our loved ones as well as our own personal safety. Being flooded with news updates on our cell phones, computers, and televisions compounds this pressure and increases our daily stress levels. We’ve all been affected by this viral pandemic in some way and we are being asked to make sacrifices in our daily lives for the greater good of society. During these difficult and uncertain times, it is very important that we take good care of our mental health to ensure that we’ll be able to continue to give the best of ourselves to our patients and families.

    Anxiety comes from lack of control of a situation or fear of the unknown. The world of is full of this uncertainty right now. However, we can help keep our anxiety levels down by adopting some simple coping strategies, which will help to modify cognitive distortions and help prevent us from adopting a catastrophic thought process. To help mitigate the unknown, one can gather information regarding the current situation and how best to stay prepared and remain calm. It is advised to pick one reliable source of information (i.e CDC.gov or WHO website) rather than perusing various sites or sources. Also, it is best not to stay glued to the news coverage throughout the day, rather, set reasonable limits on the total amount of time spent viewing the news (on television and the internet). Without setting limits for ourselves and the loved ones whose care we are responsible for, we run the risk of creating a negative mindset. On a similar note, limit Social media updates regarding Coronavirus and mobile reminders as this can contribute to feelings of anxiety and despair. Start with local updates (regarding local schools, businesses) rather than constant focus on international updates.

    Simple steps that you can take to help lower daily anxiety levels:

    - Having a contingency plan in place for the future to mitigate catastrophizing and “what-if” thinking. Being proactive and taking charge of the “what-ifs” can reduce the anxiety that is a natural part of dealing with the unknown.

    - Acknowledge coping mechanisms that have helped in the past and try to utilize these daily.

    - Accept negative feelings and acknowledge them (i.e.: journaling). Inability to express the feelings can build up and lead to long term anxiety or depression.

    - Get regular, daily exercise. A brisk walk or at home workout can do wonders to relive stress.

    - Eat a balanced diet consisting of plenty of fruits, vegetables, and water.

    - Reach out to your support system (talking to your medical provider, family, or friends).

    - Focus on getting plenty of restful sleep and practice good sleep hygiene techniques.

     

    Other Coping Mechanisms that can be incorporated into our daily lives:

    Breathing techniques:  Deep breathing helps you think more clearly and relieves muscle tension. Slowly inhale through your nose. Hold it for a moment and then exhale slowly through your mouth.  Repeat this breathing exercise three times whenever you start to feel overwhelmed or stressed. It will help calm and refocus the mind. Body relaxation techniques makes it easier to control your breath if you are pacing, clenching, or fidgeting. Try to stand still, sit down, or even lie down as you focus on your breath.

    Meditation and or Yoga: The meditation may be through Breathing, Mantras, or one may also utilize meditation Apps (i.e Headspace, Calm).

    Practice Mindfulness: cope by focusing on the current moment. Begin to identify exactly what is going on around you, what emotions you are feeling, what you are thinking, and how your body feels without trying to stop the flow. Grounding exercises: I.e. identify five colors around you, something around you completely new to you, close your eyes and identify what you hear, etc.

    A change of environment and physical distance can help you cope by relieving some of the stress and tension you feel. This may include a walk, spending the night with a close friend, or taking a weekend vacation.

    Regular Physical activity can help release built up energy, tension and stress. To combat those feelings, schedule some at-home workouts, which can boost your mood or try Running/walking outside.

    If needed, use social media as a form of enjoyment and for support. Facetime/Skype/group chats can provide a way to connect with friends and family. However, it is important to set reasonable limits on our daily use of social media.

    On a very important note, if you find that you, a co-worker, or a loved one are beginning to feel overwhelmed with anxiety and stress and are experiencing thoughts of self-harm, then please contact your medical provider immediately. Additionally, the American Psychiatric Association has some resources for emergent situations:

     

    Disaster Distress Helpline

    Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746

     

    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

    Call 1-800-273-8255 or Chat with Lifeline

     

    Crisis Textline

    Text TALK to 741741

    Given the current circumstances, it is imperative that we put forth efforts into maintaining a positive mindset and not giving into fear and uncertainty. We must consider our minds to be an environment that must be kept clean and healthy so that we can continue to perform our important roles as healthcare workers to the best of our abilities. We must avoid littering our minds with negativity and must practice self-awareness in order to ensure that our minds remain focused and healthy. We must also pick one another up and remember that there is always, always, always something to be grateful for. Kindness towards others and a sense of gratitude go a long way in taking care of our own mental health.

    In addition, here are is a list of suggested resources for relaxation exercises:

    Podcasts:

    -Mindfulness Mode

    -Pathway to Happiness

    -Untangle

    -Meditation Minis

    -The Daily Meditation Podcast

     Relaxation/Meditation Apps:

    -Calm

    -Headspace

    -Aura

    -10% Happier

    -Smiling Mind

     YouTube:

    -The Honest Guys - Guided Meditation exercises

    -Deepak Chopra - Guided Meditation series

    -Progressive Muscle relaxation series

    If you would like an appointment for Behavioral Health services at Community Health Centers, please call us at 407-905-8827.  The Behavioral Health team is available to assist you and your family during these uncertain times.

     

     

    About Community Health Centers, Inc.

    Community Health Centers, Inc. (CHC), a Federally Qualified Health Center, provides quality and compassionate primary healthcare services to insured, uninsured, underinsured, and underserved children and adults within Central Florida. CHC provides care to more than 66,000 patients, each year, in the Apopka, Bithlo, Clermont, Forest City, Groveland, Lake Ellenor, Leesburg, Meadow Woods, Pine Hills, Tavares and Winter Garden communities.  www.chcfl.org

     

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    The Mission of the Tavares Chamber of Commerce is to enhance and develop stronger bonding among businesses, the government, educational services and the community, through positive programs and events that fosters business growth and lifetime residency.