The coronavirus has hit Central Florida hard already. Layoffs, event restrictions, and ongoing uncertainty have affected all of us.
If you’re living in Central Florida, we put together a list of resources to help you navigate these tough times.
Getting a Coronavirus Test
Healthcare information about the coronavirus is continually updating. But here’s what we know so far.
Call the Orange County health department if you think you have symptoms.
The state has criteria to determine if someone qualifies for testing.
If you don’t qualify for priority testing, you can still talk to your insurer about getting tested. Many of these tests happen at commercial laboratories like Quest and LabCorp.
If the state administers your test, you should find out results within 24-48 hours. If you get a test at a commercial center, results can take 3 or 4 days.
The Florida Department of Health also has a hotline and website for more information.
It’s easy to go stir-crazy stuck at home. Luckily, there are some resources to help you pass the time and practice social distancing!
Orange County Library System
Your local library doesn’t only carry physical books. They also have eBooks, movies, and audiobooks available!
Their digital book collection is available on multiple devices. With your iPad, phone, or computer, you can download one of the many library apps. For a full list, check the OCLS website.
OCLS also offers free access to Lynda.com for anyone with a library card. They have thousands of professional and creative courses. Learn about business, programming, design, and more from the comfort of home.
Use this time at home to bolster your professional skills
Some of the world’s most famous museums have opened up virtual tours. Check out fine art and antiquities from the comfort of your couch.
There’s a good chance your favorite performers have canceled their shows and tours. Many are turning to online performances to stay connected though.
Check in with your favorite artists on social media to see what they’re doing in place of a full tour this spring.
Internet and Utility Providers
Spectrum and AT&T are the two primary internet providers in Central Florida. They’ve made changes to their plans to help the community.
AT&T is suspending termination of service for customers during coronavirus. They’re also going to get rid of late fees if you can’t pay your bill because of the coronavirus.
AT&T is also opening up free access to all their public hotspots and eliminating data caps for customers.
Charter Communications (Spectrum)
If you live with a K-12 or college student, Charter is offering free Spectrum broadband. This only applies to new customers for 60 days. They will also be opening up their WiFi hotspots for free for the same time period.
Power and Utility Companies
Power companies in Orlando are suspending disconnections of utilities. This includes OUC, Duke Energy, and Kissimmee Utility Authority. This went into effect on March 13th and 14th. It is unclear when power companies will revise this policy.
Credit Scores and Payments
When things get tough, scammers come out! Your credit score is probably the last thing on your mind right now.
But you should still check your credit report once per year to make sure it’s still all accurate.
Check out these tips on how to check your credit report for identity theft.
Your hours may get cut at work amid the outbreak. If you’re worried that you can’t pay your credit card, call your provider!
Banks and credit card companies are making exceptions for late payments.
Missing payments is worse than paying a lower balance this month. It can affect your credit score. Work with your credit card provider to negotiate your situation.
Layoffs are already affecting some Central Florida workers. Reduced hours are also becoming more common.
If you were laid off, you may qualify for unemployment insurance benefits. Benefits.gov has a tool that guides you through qualifying for reemployment assistance.
Depending on your situation, you may be able to get help paying bills and SNAP benefits. These can get you through difficult months without pay or support.
Amazon is Hiring
Amazon announced this week they are hiring 100,000 delivery drivers and workers. With stores closing, delivery may be the only way to get products you need.
The USBG National Charity program announced a new program for the service industry and bartenders. They’re offering financial help to bartenders affected by coronavirus. You can get more information on their website.
Finally, Bungalower is keeping a running tally of all the restaurants still operating. Many are limited to delivery and take-away. When rice and beans just aren’t cutting it and you need something tastier, support a local restaurant!
Things are changing every day as we learn more about the virus impacts our community. Is there anything we’ve missed so far?