ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – More businesses are reopening as Florida enters "full phase one" on Monday. To keep citizens and businesses safe, Orange County is continuing to offer free personal protective equipment to small businesses and residents this week.
Orange County Public Safety Director Danny Banks said the goal is to keep people safe and to keep the county's COVID-19 numbers down.
“We’re making those masks and hand sanitizers available as aggressively as we can,” Banks said.
Banks said more than 11,000 small businesses came out last week to get the free PPE. The county gave away 1.75 million masks and 200,000 bottles of hand sanitizer. The supplies were paid for using federal money from the CARES Act grant.
Banks said it was so successful, the county is extending the free program this week.
Business owners can make appointments online to pick up 150 masks and 20 bottles of hand sanitizer to two distribution sites on Tuesday at Wednesday, The pickup locations are Three Points Elementary School and Orlando Technical College’s Mid-Florida campus.
Banks said there is still a high demand for PPE.
"When you give small businesses the opportunity to open, you have to help them with the opportunity to be successful and safe in doing so and that was our plan all along," Banks said.
Orange County officials provided News 6 maps that show businesses all over the county took advantage of the opportunity to pick up free PPE.
"The spots on those maps really coincide with where our small businesses are. A lot of the major travel corridors in Orange County," Banks said. "We really saw a pretty good spread from east to west, north to south in Orange County and that's what we really were shooting for."
Banks said starting this weekend, Orange County Fire Rescue is also handing out free PPE to residents during their calls for service.
"Just through that alone we expect we'll hand out over 100,000 masks to our community in just one week," Banks said.
Banks said the county is also providing masks and hand sanitizer to city fire departments to distribute to their citizens while out on calls.
He adds if residents participate in free COVID-19 testing at Orange County Health Services sites at Riverside Elementary on May 19-21 or at Mid-Florida Tech on May 26-28, they will receive free PPE.
Banks said the county plans to help for as long as it can.
"We will have a plan to come back to the small business community and give them more help," Banks said.
If you are a small business just hearing of the PPE program and in need of supplies, you can register to pick up PPE for Tuesday, May 19 or Wednesday, May 20, here.