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Navigating the COVID-19 Nature Coast State of Emergency

By Diane Bedard Posted on March 19, 2020

What should one do in the Nature Coast State of Emergency?

With nearly every public facility, event, and meeting being closed through the end of March, NatureCoasters’ lives are being disrupted in a BIG way. Still, panicking is not a good option.

Prayer is a good option.

Staying in one’s home can get mundane, so what is a NatureCoaster to do?

There are many outdoor activities in our area that will allow safe space and provide excellent recreational opportunities.

This is a great time to indulge in that kayak trip you have been putting off.

Kayaking opportunities about on Florida’s Nature Coast. Here is an image from Pat Manfredo from her trip on the Pithlachascotee River.

Walk in the State Forest or any one of our wonderful parks. Take a bike ride on the Withlacoochee Trail.

Have you tried walking Brooksville’s new Florida Mermaid Trail?

Ride a horse. Go fishing. Rent a boat and tour the seas.

bucket of strawberries
This little angel has just helped her mom, brother and grandma pick a bucket of strawberries at JG Ranch, a u-pick farm in Brooksville that offers strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, corn, and assorted produce in season, as well as fresh eggs and locally-made items at their produce stand on the farm. Joan and George Casey, as well as Jeff and Debbie Casey, and their children, run this family farm. Image by Diane Bedard.

Go to a u-pick farm. There are several u-pick farms in Florida’s Nature Coast, and this is a great activity with delicious and nutritious benefits. Blueberry season is only a few weeks away. Strawberry season is winding up and several vegetables are in season now. Be sure to call before you venture out for hours and availability.

You have choices that fit the parameters of COVID-19 safety guidelines

You have the opportunity to make this a special time where you might work on gardening projects, paint or draw, read a book, write a poem or a story, or any myriad of hobbyist activities.

Take a minute to inventory what is available in your location and fight the tendency to panic.

Deep cleaning and organizing is always an option.

You are not alone.

Always good food, good friends and great coffee at Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters on Tompkins Street. Cattle Dog’s five Citrus County locations are open for business, following CDC guidelines and now offer curbside pickup with online orders. Image by Margaret Bronder.

Restrictions for Restaurants, Bars & Beaches

On March 17, Saint Patrick’s Day, Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, sent an Executive Order effectively shutting down sales in bars that receive 50% or more of their revenues from beer, wine and liquor sales for 30 days. BOOM

Restaurants are allowed to stay open now but must institute a safe space policy of 50% of their capacity. This means that every other dining table is open for business if a restaurant chooses to continue serving food providing the six-foot space we need to keep while under our State of Emergency.

Many restaurants are now offering curbside pickup and may have special procedures for that service. For example, Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters began curbside pickup service, but orders must be placed and paid for online. Please call ahead.

If you get lucky, you might find Fairy Cake when you visit Dade City.
If you get out to a restaurant, please tip your servers very generously if you can. Image courtesy of Robin Draper.

Servers are being hit hard. If you choose to eat in a restaurant or get take out food, please tip generously – ridiculously generously. That may be what keeps their lights on.

Beaches are not closed, but visitors must keep a six-foot distance between each party. Parties should be limited to ten.

Gatherings should be less than 50 and outdoors is preferred.

The Valerie Theater in downtown Inverness is one of many public facilities that was temporarily closed to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus on Florida’s Nature Coast. Image by Diane Bedard.

Nature Coast Libraries, Schools, Courthouses, and Public Buildings

All Nature Coast schools were closed in the last week through the end of March (more or less – check your school’s website for specific dates). Children are home and many parents are working from home.

Most public buildings and libraries are closed to the public for indoor activities, like paying bills, renting books and movies and Wi-Fi access. Cultural programs are closed. Movie and live performance theatres are closed. Museums are closed.

Libraries are offering Wi-Fi outdoors, but no public computers. Books can be reserved online and picked up at library locations, but there is no indoor service.

Jury trials are suspended in the courts and all government offices such as tax collectors and driver license bureaus can be managed online. Please do so.

Navigating the challenges of working from home with your children present requires a new style of balance. Image courtesy of Pixabay.

How to Work from Home with your Children there

When I was in my early 30s, I started my entrepreneurial journey with two toddlers (Irish twins) at home. It was truly a challenge to manage work around their schedules, but I learned a lot. I want to share some of that knowledge with those of you who are suddenly thrust into the work from home scenario.

Balance is key. Children do not innately understand why anything is more important than their immediate “needs.” As they get older, they learn to put others first. This means they don’t understand why you are staring at that computer now instead of playing with them. Try to schedule time for both in the workday.

Sometimes the schedule has to be foregone to keep the balance. Image courtesy of Pixabay.

When my children took a nap, I worked. If someone called during the awake hours and I was disrupted, I would say, “Oh, that’s my management team. They’re being cranky.” This would make the client/boss and I laugh. We would reschedule or muddle through depending on the situation. The laughter broke the ice and made things much easier to resolve.

Now is a time to give each other lots of grace – including ourselves and our families.

Why outdoors?

Get outdoors and get healthy with Florida sunshine and fresh air. Image by Diane Bedard.

The Florida Sunshine provides health benefits to our bodies. Our skin absorbs vitamin D from sun exposure. It is good for us.

Here is an interesting article on Coronavirus and the Sun by Dr. Richard Hobday, an internationally recognized authority on health in the built environment.

Fresh air is a proven aid in the healing process. Indoor air is recycled, so germs are recycled too. Apparently fresh air lets the germs go away – maybe through photosynthesis. Maybe through rain and dew. I don’t know why or how. I just know it works.

When finances look bleak, be sure to ask your creditors for grace. Often by being ahead of the problem, you can work out a solution and skip the sleepless nights. Image courtesy of Dean Moriarty via Pixabay.

What about Income?

I believe we will all be affected financially by this crisis. Still, panicking does not help.

I have read news stating that Congress and the President are talking about printing money and sending each of us $1,000 or so. That will surely help, but I don’t recommend waiting for it. If and when it works out, we will know what to do with it.

If it looks like you are going to be short in an area of debt, contact whomever you owe and work out an alternate payment plan. This is a temporary situation. Maybe you can skip this month’s payment, and have it added to the end of the loan? No-one wants to make it worse. Being proactive in this area can save you sleepless nights and credit score drops.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

What Can a NatureCoaster Do?

If you are able to help someone out, please do so. Share a roll of toilet paper or two. Call those who are stuck in facilities and cannot have visitors. Mail letters and cards. Donate blood. There is a real shortage right now. Can you volunteer remotely? Nonprofits are sending NatureCoaster updates saying they are planning to continue offering services, but they may be implemented differently. If you can donate time, money or resources to a nonprofit, now is a great time to do so.

What to Do in the Nature Coast State of Emergency

Anglers of all sizes love Homosassa’s fishing!

Residents of Citrus, Hernando and Pasco Counties are blessed with many outdoor activity resources. Our park systems are large and, although events and gatherings are canceled, the parks, forests, rivers, lakes, and Gulf are still open and ready for you to enjoy.

Get outside, while minding your Ps&Qs to thoroughly wash your hands, stay 6 feet from others, and pray for each and every human in this world – may we become better people in a better society through the challenges we rise up to today.

There many outdoor activities in Florida’s Nature Coast that allow safe space and provide excellent recreational opportunities.

Hunter Springs Park
The Hunter Springs Park beach provides a wonderful launch for any kayaking adventure with the Hunter Springs Kayak team. Image by Diane Bedard.

This could be a great time to indulge in that kayak trip you have been putting off.

Walk in the State Forest or any one of our wonderful parks and botanical gardens.

Sunset Landing Marina in Port Richey has beautiful pontoon boat rentals to help you catch a coastal state of mind.

Ride a horse. Go fishing. Rent a pontoon boat and enjoy the gulf breeze.

Go to a u-pick farm. Blueberry season is only a few weeks away. Strawberry season is winding up and several vegetables are in season now.

We welcome a new NatureCoaster this week with The Dolan House in Brooksville. Perhaps a stay-cation with Debra and Roger King providing a respite from your home would be in order? They make one heckuva breakfast – and pastries!

The Dolan House
Perhaps a staycation at The Dolan House to clear the head? Their motto of ABC of Always Be Clean makes for confidence in their historic B & B. Image courtesy of The Dolan House.

If you have small businesses that you patronize regularly perhaps it would be nice to check on them. Shops are still open for business in most cases, as are many restaurants with take-out and limited hours. Florida’s Nature Coast is woven with the fabric of small businesses and we all need each other to make it through the tough times.

Take a minute to inventory what is available in your location and fight the tendency to panic. You are not alone.

Let us know how we can help you. We are going to feature some local images in the next few weeks as part of our ezine for inspiration.

Useful Links courtesy of the Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce:

Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 – Click Here

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – Regional offices closed – Click Here

Families First Coronovirus Response Act – Tax-Related Provisions – Click Here

Hernando County – Upcoming BOCC Meeting – Click Here

NAMI Hernando – Virtual Support Groups – Click Here


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