Help available for businesses amid reopening


Despite more companies being allowed to reopen, another coronavirus death has been reported

  • Kena Foster, center, will conduct video chats to help local businesses that are reopening.
    Kena Foster, center, will conduct video chats to help local businesses that are reopening.

Resources are being made available to Putnam County businesses, especially those that have yet to reopen, to help them conduct operations while staying safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has specific guidelines catering to the general workplace, restaurants, small businesses, worker safety and practices for larger companies. 

As a general rule, people distancing at least 6 feet from others, wearing face masks and sanitizing surfaces are always recommended. 

Mary Garcia, administrator for the Florida Department of Health in Putnam County, said it is important for business owners and employees to feel prepared when going back to work. 

“If you’re not feeling comfortable opening up, then I feel that is certainly (their) personal decision to do,” Garcia said. 

Another COVID-19-related death was reported Thursday, bringing Putnam County deaths to four. The number of local coronavirus cases rose by one Thursday, making it 136 people in Putnam who have been diagnosed. 

Garcia wanted to remind business owners coronavirus testing can be done through the Emergency Operations Center in Palatka as another precaution to battle coronavirus upon reopening. 

“Everybody has the option of offering (testing) to their team, and then they can sign up individually,” she said. 

The most recent death in the county was a 67-year-old Crescent City woman, and the latest case was a 56-year-old Palatka woman, according to local health officials. reported there had been 3,125 coronavirus tests conducted by Thursday evening, and almost 96% of all tests returned negative. 

Beginning Monday, restaurants and retail stores were allowed to increase capacity to 50%, and gyms were finally allowed to reopen – also at 50% capacity. 

Although not every business has reopened, Garcia said business owners can call the county coronavirus hotline 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays at 329-1904 if they have questions about how to safely run their business during the pandemic. 

The county hotline will be closed Saturday through Monday for Memorial Day; operations will resume Tuesday. 

Garcia said common questions have been about proper sanitization and how to social distance. Some places have even started a log to monitor who visits a business, she said. 

People who want a more in-depth approach to making a coronavirus plan for their business can schedule a conversation with Kena Foster, the senior community health nursing director for the Department of Health in Putnam County. 

As a partnership between the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce and the Emergency Operations Center, the 15-minute video chat will provide infection control training and answer questions businesses have regarding how to reopen. 

“I think it’s incredibly nice (Foster) offered to do these 15-minute video chats with any business to try and help them understand exactly the best ways to keep their employees and their customers safe,” chamber President Dana Jones said. 

The service is free, and Foster is available to businesses who want to take advantage of the offer. Registration can be done at 

“There’s a lot of written information, and businesses are getting that. But it’s kind of really cool for the one-on-one opportunity because you always have questions,” Jones said. “I just think it’s an excellent opportunity and I hope our businesses take advantage of it.”