Second coronavirus case in Santa Rosa also linked to travel

Posted on March 19, 2020 by Staff reports

The Florida Department of Health confirm a second case of Coronavirus in Santa Rosa County. Per DOH the case is connected to international travel. 

The first case of Coronavirus in the county was fatal, following the victim’s travel on a Nile River cruise.

Additionally, Hurlburt Field has announced today that an active-duty airman has tested positive for the virus.

At this point, Navarre Beach Fishing Pier, county parks and beaches remain open under current CDC 14-day plan guidelines, recommending no congregating in groups of more than 10 people. We will update this story and share news of any closures should they take place. Okaloosa and Walton County have closed public beaches.



Santa Rosa County Schools will not resume before April 15, and some students may finish the school year remotely via online learning.

Pensacola State College classes are suspended at least through March 29, and the University of West Florida has transitioned to remote classes only for the remainder of the spring semester. Curious Apples Learning Center in Navarre has also closed until March 30.


One of the most immediate concerns related to the virus, in addition to mitigating its spread, is ensure locals have food.

United Way of West Florida has announced that individuals in need of assistance accessing food, paying housing or utility bills, accessing free childcare, or other essential services are urged to dial 211 from their phones or visit

Santa Rosa County School District on Monday will start providing breakfast and lunch for free to students 18 years of age and younger (click here for details:

Additionally, there are several local food pantries:

  • Feeding the Gulf Coast, located at 5709 Industrial Boulevard in East Milton, is open at 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visit to donate.
  • Food for Vets (for U.S. military veterans only), located inside Santa Rosa Mall by the food court at 300 Mary Esther Boulevard in Mary Esther, is open from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on the 3rd Friday and 3rd Saturday of each month. Visit to donate.

Also, seniors who had been receiving meals from the Council on Aging at the Holley-Navarre Senior Center will still receive meals there, even though the facility is closed otherwise until further notice.

Local grocery stores are struggling to maintain a supply of certain products like toilet paper, diaper wipes and bread. Therefore, there have been a reduction in late/overnight operating hours to allow for restocking and limiting the number of those sought-after products per customer. Some stores offer home delivery and pick-up options, too.

While grocery stores like Piggy Wiggly in East Milton are seeing an increase in sales, other local small businesses are struggling.


Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Tuesday issued an executive order, closing all bars and night clubs for 30 days and restricting restaurants to operating at 50 percent serving capacity to allow for spacing between patrons and encouraging take-out and delivery options.

Accordingly, the following local establishments have announced temporary changes to their operations:


  • Juana’s Pagodas/Sailor’s Grill
  • Shark Bites (Navarre and Fort Walton Beach locations)


  • Alphy’s in Navarre will only service breakfast and close at 12 noon
  • VINE Wine Bar will be open from 2-5 pm with a limited menu


  • Slippery Mermaid has added curb-side service


  • Black Skimmer Grill will be open for take-out/pick-up service only until further notice


To help ease the financial strain on local small businesses, Santa Rosa County District 5 Commissioner Lane Lynchard said the county has designated its Economic Development Office to serve as a clearinghouse for information and resources available to local businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency. A related website has been launched at for one-stop access to the most up-to-date information about where business can find assistance, including interest-free loans from the State of Florida (see story on page 11).

Florida has also announced that tolls have been suspended through June 1.

Furthermore, the federal government has announced consideration of stimulus packages which could provide quick cash to Americans. U.S. President Donald J. Trump during a March 18 press conference revealed a proposal that would start April 6 sending checks, with the amounts based on income and numbers of dependents. A second check would be distributed in mid-May.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Wednesday also introduced the Restoring Economic Security, Confidence and User Endurance (RESCUE) Businesses Act of 2020, a $300 billion small business emergency economic relief plan aimed to help small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic make payroll and cover expenses.

Trump announced other federal relief, including the extension of the IRS tax season deadline until July 15 without interest or late fees and the suspension of evictions and foreclosures through April.


It’s not just small business owners and employees who are suffering. Non-profit and other groups hosting events are also experiencing financial pressure, resulting from the forced cancellation of local events. Pursuant to CDC guidelines recommending not gathering in groups of more than 10 people, most area events have been cancelled or postponed.

Santa Rosa County for the next 8 weeks has cancelled all county-permitted events for more than 50 people. The City of Gulf Breeze is not issuing permits for events for more than 500 people during March, and the City of Milton has cancelled upcoming permitted events for more than 250.


Court proceedings are also being postponed or rescheduled. March 16-27 jury selection proceedings have been temporarily suspended, and all jury trials were officially suspended through March 27 by the Florida Supreme Court. Access to the courthouse and proceedings are limited with only necessary participants are allowed into any hearing (witnesses, attorneys, and parties, essential court staff).


Although the City of Gulf Breeze has not year cancelled any meetings, the City of Milton has cancelled its Committee of the Whole March meeting and its Executive Committee meeting may be rescheduled for April.

Santa Rosa County has cancelled the following meetings; March 19 Land Development Code public forum; March 23 commission committee meeting; March 26 rezoning meeting; April 2 Tourist Development Council; April 6 commission committee meeting and April 20 commission committee meetings have been cancelled (see related story on page


Currently the following government/utility offices remain open for business or have adjusted services:

  • Navarre’s Official Visitor Information Center, located at 8543 Navarre Parkway in Navarre Park, remains open from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
  • Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office has suspended fingerprinting services until further notice.
  • Santa Rosa County Tax Collector Stan Nichols has cancelled all appointments including CDLs (hazmat licenses), concealed weapons applications/renewals, driving tests, etc. until further notice. Many transactions can be completed online at
  • All non-online County extension office activities are cancelled through April 30, although consultations are still available by calling 850-623-3868.


Presently the following public facilities are open or have adjusted operations:


  • Navarre Beach Fishing Pier, county parks and beaches remain open under current CDC 14-day plan guidelines, recommending no congregating in groups of more than 10 people
  • County libraries remain open with regular hours; however, programs, tax preparation assistance, book stores and meeting room reservations are cancelled until further notice.

CITY OF MILTON – Milton Community Center closed until further notice; all city parks remain open.

CITY OF GULF BREEZE – All city parks remain open.

GULF ISLANDS NATIONAL SEASHORE – All ranger-led programs and permits for activities with 10 or more people have been cancelled; The Fort Barrancas Area and indoor exhibit area at Naval Live Oaks reserve in Gulf Breeze are closed; Fort Pickens remains open except for the Discovery Center and Bookstore; Pensacola Bay Cruises & Ship Island Excursions has suspended operations.

BLACKWATER RIVER STATE FOREST – All campgrounds, Clear Creek Off-Highway Vehicle Riding Area, and Krul Lake Recreation Area will be closed for 30 days effective March 20. The forest remains open to hunting and fishing.

FLORIDA STATE PARKS – remain open but have limited hours of operations to 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. Reservations and events at parks have been cancelled.


Other tourist attractions and local venues, including the Naval Aviation Museum and Cordova Mall, have closed until further notice.