I’ve been documenting and compiling all the latest news and updates as it relates to coronavirus in The Villages since this saga began.
I’ll update this page as often as I can to get the information out to you.
If you’d like to get my weekly updates by email, you can sign up right here.
Friday June 26, 2020
Today, Florida reported another record for daily new coronavirus cases, with more than 8,900 new cases.
It was a rough week in The Villages too, which now has more than 100 cases.
Seven more Villagers test positive for COVID-19 (Villages-News)
As you might expect, with numbers rising like they are, the brakes are being pumped on our “re-opening”, starting with bars.
Some businesses that have been open, are now shutting back down, either as a precaution, or as a result of their employees or customers contracting the virus.
Village Dental shut down due to COVID-19 (Villages-News)
Testing will be available this week at the New Covenant United Methodist Church in The Villages from Monday, June 29th through Thursday, July 2nd from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM.
Registration is required and you can do that here: http://sumter.floridahealth.gov/events/index.html
Friday June 19, 2020
While the state of Florida set a record for new daily coronavirus cases this week, The Villages only picked up a couple more cases.
I thought this Channel 9 news report was worth checking out in which health officials in Sumter County said unlike most of the state, COVID-19 cases have not gone up in the county.
Two of The Villages’ movie theaters, Old Mill Playhouse and Barnstorm Theater opened this week, albeit at just 25% capacity.
Villages movie theaters reopen today (The Villages Daily Sun)
Also, The Sharon announced their reopening plans which include stringent safety measures and very limited seating
Friday, June 12, 2020
The number of identified coronavirus cases in The Villages crossed the 80 mark this week, but it does not seem to be growing as fast as some other parts of the state.
While our numbers remain low, experts stress not to let our guards down just yet.
Coronavirus numbers at The Villages remain low, but experts worry (Orlando Sentinel)
One bright spot…the Brownwood Farmer’s Market is back open!
Brownwood farmers return to sell wares (The Villages Daily Sun)
Also, softball is back!
Villages softball gets back in full swing (The Villages Daily Sun)
Friday, June 5, 2020
Depending on which site you pull from and which day you do it, The Villages has somewhere in the range of 70 to 80 current coronavirus cases.
Lake, Sumter report 6 new cases of COVID-19 (Daily Commercial)
This week in The Villages, bars are starting to open and movie theaters (at least two of them) aren’t far behind.
Bars opening today; cinemas coming soon (The Villages Daily Sun)
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Florida logged the largest single-day increase in reported cases since this all began.
Friday, May 29, 2020
To mask, or not to mask. That is the question.
When the community’s amenities began to reopen in early May, face masks were required.
This week, that policy has shifted to face masks being requested.
However, for activities where 6 ft. of social distance cannot be maintained, face masks are still required.
Villagers have strong opinions about face masks (Villages-News)
Also this week we learned that The Enrichment Academy will resume select courses on June 1 with limited availability.
Antibody testing for virus comes here (The Villages Daily Sun)
Friday, May 22, 2020
The Villages continued to open back up this week.
Gyms join eateries, retail in reopening (The Villages Daily Sun)
More churches are opening doors, setting plans (The Villages Daily Sun)
Friday, May 15, 2020
Another week in the books, and thankfully it was another slow week for growth of the coronavirus, as the number of reported positive cases in The Villages held steady.
In fact, Don Henderson, CEO of UF Health Central Florida said, “We haven’t seen a new positive COVID-19 case in our hospitals for the last three weeks.”
UF hospitals resume medical procedures (The Villages Daily Sun)
There is one famous casualty to report this week. It was published that Katie Belle’s, the once popular restaurant and dance hall in Spanish Springs would not reopen after the coronavirus closures.
Like most victims of the coronavirus, Katie’s as it was affectionately known had some underlying conditions.
Once a private club for residents and their guests, Katie Belle’s was shut-down and remodeled a few years ago and then reopened to the general public. She never quite regained her step after that.
RIP Katie Belle’s.
Governor DeSantis announced today that Florida will take further steps toward reopening beginning Monday, May 18. These steps include restaurants moving from 25% to 50% capacity for indoor seating and the reopening of gyms and fitness centers with proper social distancing.
In The Villages, some of the openings happening on Monday include:
- Beach Tennis
- Platform Tennis
- Sand Volleyball
- Softball – Practice Only
- Savannah Center Computer Lab
- Mark Twain Library
- Table Tennis
Friday, May 8, 2020
This week, Villagers began taking their first steps to get back to “normal” or what many are calling the “new normal”.
Recreation center staff, residents follow guidelines to enjoy first day back (The Villages Daily Sun)
According to the latest numbers, there are 77 reported positive cases of coronavirus in The Villages.
Friday, May 1, 2020
According to the latest information available, the number of Villagers testing positive for coronavirus is still under 80.
In last week’s update I mentioned that President Trump had tweeted about The Villages success in keeping the virus from spreading, and Governor Ron DeSantis made similar statements this week during his press conference with Trump at the White House.
As I mentioned last week, Monday May 4 is the day that The Villages will begin the process of slowly reopening some recreation centers, pools, and other facilities.
Getting ready to reopen: What you should expect (The Villages Daily Sun)
Residents venturing out to any of the community’s amenities are being asked to bring their own water, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and to wear a face mask for ALL indoor and outdoor activities:
In addition, residents are also being asked to limit their time at any facility or pool to 60 minutes at a time.
Also this week, Governor DeSantis said that starting Monday restaurants can re-open at 25% capacity inside.
Friday, April 24, 2020
According to the last update I read from Villages-News, The Villages continues to more or less hold steady with 76 cases of the Coronavirus.
The Villages also got some free publicity this week when President Trump sent this tweet to his 78.3 million Twitter followers:
If you’ve been following the news, the government has proposed opening the country back up in three phases. According to the District government, here’s how that might look for The Villages:
Phase I – April 27th through May 3rd
- District Recreation & Parks staff will return to work the week of April 27 to May 3 to further clean and prep facilities.
- Efforts will include utilizing tables and chairs to establish 6 foot buffers in room layouts and swimming pool areas, so social distancing may be actively practiced.
- While residents will not have access to additional facilities this week, it will provide District staff the opportunity to prepare for Phase II.
Phase II – begins May 4th (if approved by local, state and federal agencies) and will continue through the month of May
Recreational activities that meet criteria of specific health department guidelines will begin opening. Some of the criteria taken into consideration will include limited exposure, high respiration activities, activity interaction and the interaction of persons/objects. While we are still evaluating which facilities will open, you can expect to see the following:
- Limited facility use
- Special social spacing accommodations
- All facilities will close by 8:00 p.m. to afford staff time for next day cleaning and preparation
- Villages IDs will be checked and cashless Trail Fee services will continue
- The District Administrative Offices at Lake Sumter Landing will open on an appointment only basis beginning May 11th.
Phase III – Not anticipated to take effect until after the month of May (dependent upon health guidelines from local, state & federal agencies)
- Will include opening non-regional recreation centers, additional outdoor facilities and a full opening of District Administrative offices.
- At this time, it is not anticipated that there will be any recreation sponsored or co-sponsored large events.
Local, state leaders eye safe, strategic reopening (The Villages Daily Sun)
Friday, April 17, 2020
More than 70 Villagers are now positive with coronavirus.
The Wall Street Journal published an article today about coronavirus in The Villages:
Watching and Waiting for a Coronavirus Surge at The Villages in Florida (The Wall Street Journal)
Earlier this week, Villages-News published a staff editorial about the problems residents have experienced with testing at The Villages Polo Fields:
Testing did open back up briefly on Friday, but as of 6:15pm this evening, scheduling is not available beyond this date.
Friday, April 10, 2020
Entertainers from around The Villages came together (but apart) to sing this great rendition of We Are the World:
Saturday, April 4, 2020
Sadly, coronavirus has claimed its first victim in The Villages.
Villager dies of Coronavirus after health rapidly declines (Villages-News)
Villages takes big steps to help small businesses (The Villages Daily Sun)
Friday, April 3, 2020
Florida is now on a statewide stay at home order, but with some exceptions, most Villagers have been staying at home as much as possible anyway.
Recreation and sports courts, including pickleball and tennis, are now closed. Nature trails, walkways, cycling areas, golf courses and fishing ponds will remain open.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Drive thru testing starts back Wednesday at The Polo Fields. You can request an appointment here: https://ufhealthcovid.com/
These results show evidence of initial community spread; however, it does not appear to be widespread, at least so far. We are continuing to closely monitor the situation,” Michael Lauzardo, a doctor and deputy director of the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute, said in a prepared statement.Study shows evidence of rapid COVID-19 spread in the Villages (Orlando Weekly)
Monday, March 30, 2020
UFHealth has announced that drive-thru testing will begin again at The Polo Fields as soon as supplies are available.
38 Villagers test positive for Coronavirus (Villages-News)
The Villages has also been mentioned in some national publications over the last few days:
Coronavirus spreading in The Villages (Politico)
Saturday, March 28, 2020
According to The Villages Daily Sun Facebook page:
Results of the first three days of UFHealth drive-thru testing at the Polo Club found only eight positive virus cases among 420 people with symptoms who received FDA-approved clinical tests (1 in Lake County, one in Marion County and 6 in Sumter County). Results of the first two days of another 600 asymptomatic people who received tests through a research arm showed zero positive results – a critical finding to learning how the virus spreads. Results of the last few days of testing will be published as they become available, and officials hope to resume testing as supplies become available.Officials urge diligence amid promising results (The Villages Daily Sun)
Waterfront Inn shuts down at Lake Sumter Landing (Villages-News)
Friday, March 27, 2020
Villagers coming together in new ways during a time of uncertainty (The Villages Daily Sun)
24 Sumter County residents have tested positive for Coronavirus (Villages-News)
Coronavirus mutes happy hours in The Villages, but golf goes on (Orlando Sentinel)
Tuesday, March 24, 2020
As of 8pm last night, all recreation centers and dog parks in The Villages will be closed until further notice. For now, Parks, Fenney Putt & Play, outdoor exercise equipment and sports courts remain open.
Monday, March 23, 2020
Sunday, March 22, 2020
Monday appointment slots for drive-thru coronavirus testing at The Villages Polo Club went pretty quick but you can make an appointment for future dates here: http://UFHealthCovid.com
Ghosted: The Villages town squares empty out as coronavirus strikes close (Daily Commercial)
Saturday, March 21, 2020
From The Villages Daily Sun:
University of Florida Health is teaming up with The Villages Health and state health and emergency management officials to bring drive-thru virus testing to the region Monday.
The large-scale effort expects to test hundreds of people daily for the next five days at a site now in place at The Villages Polo Club.
Participants are asked to arrive by golf cart, but those in cars also will be tested.Read the full article here.
Friday, March 20, 2020
Today Gov. DeSantis ordered the closure of all bars and restaurants in Florida for on-site consumption.
Some restaurants have closed completely, but some remain open for to-go orders.
Gov. DeSantis cited The Villages as an example of responsible social distancing:
People out golfing, but wiping down carts, not shaking hands, not touching flagstick. Says it’s a more “sustainable model” of social distancing.
Governor: ‘Golf cart’ drive-thru coronavirus test site at The Villages possible (Channel 6 News Orlando)
Here’s a video update from The Villages District Manager:
Thursday, March 19, 2020
The Villages was mentioned in an article in the Miami Herald today:
DeSantis said the state was also working with the University of Florida to provide more testing in The Villages, the nation’s largest retirement community. He spoke with Gary Lester, vice president of The Villages, on Wednesday morning, according to DeSantis’ calendar.
“They’re playing golf, but they’re social distancing,” DeSantis said, referencing precautionary measures taken by Villages residents. “They’re taking their own cart.”Miami Herald
The Villages was also mentioned in an article in The New York Times:
In The Villages, a sanctum of sunshine, golf and afternoon happy hours, the first nearby case was reported on Tuesday in Lake County, though most of the retirement community is in neighboring Sumter County.
Catherine Hardy, 64, a Villages resident, said her weekly card game was canceled, though her husband was still golfing. Her friend Cindy Comer, 64, who returned home from Cincinnati last week, placed herself in isolation to protect her 87-year-old parents who live down the street.A Deadly Coronavirus Mix in Florida: An Aging Population and Lots of Young Visitors (The New York Times)
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
The first Sumter County resident has tested positive for COVID-19 at UF Health Leesburg Hospital. At the present time there are conflicting reports as to whether or not the person is a resident of The Villages.
Like the case of the first Lake County person to test positive, this case has also been deemed travel-related.
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
A Lake County woman is confirmed as the first case of the coronavirus in the Lake-Marion-Sumter “Tri-County” area. The case is believed to be travel-related.
Also, Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced that all bars and nightclubs in Florida will close for 30 days beginning at 5 p.m. tonight. Restaurants will be limited to 50% capacity, with staggered seating.
Monday, March 16, 2020
Update posted on the District Government website at Noon today:
The safety of residents, guests, staff and visitors in The Villages community continues to be of utmost importance to the District. As the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Florida Department of Health and Governor DeSantis on the prevention of COVID-19 continues to update, the District is implementing the following facility and schedule changes that will take effect on Tuesday, March 17, 2020: Recreation Activities – the following changes will be in effect until March 31, 2020
- The operating hours of the Recreation Centers will be 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- All scheduled indoor activities in the recreation centers are cancelled.
- All Sports Pool activities other than Combo Swim are cancelled.
- All scheduled outdoor activities of 50 or more people are cancelled.
- The Enrichment Academy (TEA) courses scheduled between March 14th and March 31st are postponed and will be rescheduled. Participants will be notified by email of alternate course dates.
- The Irish American Parade scheduled for Tuesday, March 17th is cancelled.
- Outdoor Excursions and Lake Sumter Line Boat Tours are cancelled.
- Parks, Dog Parks, Fenney Putt & Play, Outdoor Exercise Equipment, Sports Courts & Swimming Pools remain open.
- All Fitness Clubs will be closed.
- The Southside Hot Tub will be closed.
- The Mark Twain Library will be closed.
District Board & Committee Meetings are cancelled for the month of March:
- Architectural Review Committee
- Amenity Authority Committee Budget Workshop
- Project Wide Advisory Committee Budget Workshop
- North Sumter County Utility Dependent District (NSCUDD)
- Sumter Landing Community Development District
- Brownwood Community Development District
- Village Community Development District No. 5
- Village Community Development District No. 6
- Village Community Development District No. 8
- Village Community Development District No. 9
- Village Community Development District No. 10
The following other District Meetings and Events are cancelled through March 31, 2020:
- NSCUDD Solid Waste Management Plan Special Workshop
- CDD Orientation
- Resident Academy
- The Villages Public Safety Department
- Smoke detector changes
- CPR classes
As additional information is received by the CDC and the Florida Department of Health, event cancellations and facilities closures will continually be reassessed.
Florida Senior Communities Try to Maintain Normalcy While Preparing for Coronavirus ( The Wall Street Journal)
Saturday, March 14, 2020
Here’s what I shared in my weekly email to readers:
Just when you think you’ve seen it all.
Readers have been writing in all week asking what’s going on right now in TheVillages?
My answer can be summed up in just one word: CANCELLED
Trisha Yearwood Show at The Sharon: Cancelled
Matches at The Villages Polo Club: Cancelled
St. Patrick’s Day Festival: Cancelled
All nightly entertainment on the Town Squares: Cancelled
Farmers Markets in Brownwood: Cancelled
Spanish Springs Car Cruise In: Cancelled
Something tells me that over the coming weeks and months we’re all going to be alittle less focused on what lawn ornaments in our neighbors yards might be againstthe deeds and restrictions, and a little more focused on what we can do to protect our health and that of those we love.
Here’s what I’m reading this week:
It seems like early in the week, some residents were kind of skeptical of the media reporting about the virus.
But by the end of the week, people were busy getting ready to hunker down:
Friday, March 13, 2020
Local hospital statement, provided Friday afternoon:
To date, to the best of our knowledge, no patients have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, at UF Health Leesburg Hospital, UF Health The Villages® Hospital or anywhere else in Lake or Sumter counties,” said Don Henderson, CEO of UF Health Central Florida. “Both hospitals have implemented extensive policies and procedures to counter the threat of COVID-19.
Here are links to a few articles and websites I’ve found useful.
Florida Department of Health Coronavirus Dashboard – Track the number of cases by county