Author: rangelr05

Community Resources

If you or a loved one are facing challenges to keep your families taken care of, we recommend you check these websites where you will find different options for free meals and groceries in Central Florida:

Face Mask Required

Orlando Weekly: Posted By Dave Plotkin on Sat, Apr 11, 2020 at 11:57 am

Osceola County issued a new protective order Friday requiring that face masks or other coverings be worn by nearly every person in public. Coverings include a uniform piece of material securely covering a person’s nose and mouth, which “remains affixed in place without the use of one’s hands.” This can include a bandana, t-shirt, scarf or other piece of cloth.

The order takes affect just after midnight Sunday night, starting at 12:01 a.m. Monday, April 13. It remains in place “until further notice.” “A face covering, according to the CDC’s guidance, can help stop the spread of the disease, especially if someone is asymptomatic,” says the order announcement

Osceola County also said Friday it has more than 300 cases of coronavirus, and that, “while many residents are abiding by current orders and guidance, others are creating a risk by ignoring them.” There are a few exceptions to the order, such as children under two and people whose breathing would be inhibited by a mask due to an existing health condition. People who are at work and have no face-to-face public interactions are also exempted, as are people exercising, as long as they are “observing social distancing in accordance with the CDC guidelines.”

This video from a feature in the journal Nature shows why you don’t want to wait until Monday to start protecting yourself from flying mucus – and especially to contain your own. What you’re seeing is MITmathematician Lydia Bourouiba’s high-speed camera capturing the anatomy of sneezes and coughs, which helps to illustrate how infectious diseases like COVID-19 spread in the air. Mask wearing has indeed been much more popular in countries outside of the U.S., as a way to combat pollen and air pollution, and as a courtesy to protect other people from sneezes. It’s time for Central Floridians to more broadly accept the lesson.

County officials asked residents to refrain from wearing “sorely needed N95 masks or other PPE,” so as not to deprive medical professionals the critically needed personal protection equipment, but washable cloth masks are effective and readily available. As always, businesses will need to be on board too. One of the best ways local restaurants and service providers can adopt mask culture is to make their own using cloth from unused company uniforms or matching fabrics.

Accessorizing cloth masks with existing uniforms reduces the jarring appearance of medical-style masks, which are often in a recognizable light blue or green. Gloves are a must, whether required or not, and white ones match almost any uniform. For details on the order, visit the county’s website. Osceola residents who think they have been exposed to COVID-19 and have developed a fever and symptoms (such as cough or difficulty breathing), are asked to contact their healthcare provider or the Osceola County Health Department at 407-343-2000.


The CARES Act provides fast and direct economic assistance for American workers and families, small businesses, and preserves jobs for American industries.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress with overwhelming, bipartisan support and signed into law by President Trump on March 27th, 2020.  This over $2 trillion economic relief package delivers on the Trump Administration’s commitment to protecting the American people from the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19.

The CARES Act provides fast and direct economic assistance for American workers, families, and small businesses, and preserve jobs for our American industries.

Information Provided by: https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/cares

By clicking on the link above you will get complete detail information on any information related to the COVID-19 Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act!

Osceola Stay At Home

Adrienne Cutway, Web Editor

Published: March 26, 2020, 5:01 pm


OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – As the beginning of the stay-at-home order in Osceola County nears, people are wondering what does and doesn’t constitute a violation.

The decision to institute the mandate was announced Wednesday as county leaders told residents that it would begin Thursday at 11 p.m. and end April 9 at 11 p.m. The ultimate goal of the order is to reduce the likelihood of mass gatherings and ensure that people social distance in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Law enforcement officers will be tasked with dispersing groups of 10 or more and those in violation could face a fine up to $500 or even arrest, according to the sheriff.

To quell some concerns, Osceola County established a frequently asked questions page to address what will still be operating, what must shutdown and what things people can still do outside their homes.

Below is some information from that page:

Does the order apply to me?

Yes. Even if you aren’t elderly or have health problems, the order is mandatory for all Osceola County residents, including those living in Kissimmee.

Will public transit still be operating?

Lynx and SunRail will still be up and running but should only be used for essential activities or business.

What exactly are essential activities?

Going to the grocery store, getting take-out from a restaurant, going to the pharmacy, gas stations, police stations, fire stations, hospitals, medical appointments and healthcare facilities are all allowed. After your business is done at any of those places, you’re asked to return home immediately. While out, be sure to practice social distancing by staying 6 feet away from others.

Can I still go to work?

It depends on what you do for a living. If you work at any of the places mentioned above then you can and should go to work as long as you follow proper precautions. Osceola County also provided a list of businesses that are considered essential to everyday life and therefore allowed to continue operating:

  • Healthcare providers
  • Grocery store employees
  • Food cultivation
  • Any business to provide food, shelter, social services and necessities of life
  • Hotels and motels
  • Media
  • Gas stations
  • Auto-supply, auto-repair, towing companies
  • Banks and other financial institutions
  • Hardware stores
  • Licensed contractors
  • Businesses providing mailing and shipping services
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners
  • Restaurants to offer a pickup option or delivery
  • Schools providing free food services to students
  • Businesses that supply office products needed for anyone who works from home
  • Any business selling medical equipment and supply providers
  • Businesses shipping groceries or goods to residences
  • Airlines
  • Taxis
  • Bus employees
  • Home-based care for seniors adults or children
  • Assisted living facilities and nursing homes
  • Legal services
  • Landscape and pool care business
  • Childcare facilities
  • Businesses operating at an airport or government facility
  • Pet supply stores
  • Logistics providers
  • Telecommunications providers
  • Providers of propane or natural gas
  • Construction sites
  • Architectural, engineering and land surveying services
  • Factories and plants
  • Waste management services
  • Businesses interacting with customers solely through electronic or telephonic means
  • Businesses delivering products through mail

If your job isn’t listed, plan on talking to your boss about working from home.

I miss my family and friends. Can I see them?

Unfortunately, no — at least not in person. If your loved one has an urgent need for food or health care then of course you can visit but in-person hangouts shouldn’t be happening during the period of the order. FaceTime, phone calls, Skype and texting are always acceptable.

I think I have COVID-19. Can I go get tested?

Yes, those testing sites will be open but don’t just show up unannounced. Most testing sites require pre-screening and appointments to ensure that precious supplies aren’t wasted on someone who doesn’t actually need it. To review the criteria and see Osceola County testing sites, click here.

Can I go to the hospital?

Yes, there are no plans of closing the hospitals or denying access to anyone with a medical emergency. You shouldn’t, however, go to the emergency room for a coronavirus test. If you have a friend or family member who has been admitted to a health care facility, it’s important to note that many hospitals and assisted living centers have amended their visitor policies.

Will garbage still be picked up?

Yes. Be sure to take your trash out to the curb on your regularly scheduled day.

Will Orlando International Airport be open?

It will, but definitely don’t get in a plane if you’re feeling ill and you’re strongly advised against going to a coronavirus hot spot, including New York City. Keep in mind that the situation is fluid and you could be asked to self-isolate upon return, depending on where you go. Otherwise, the airport is open for essential travel.

Will Osceola County Parks be open?

Yes, you can still access the trails for some outdoor exercise but don’t plan on using any fitness centers. Trails and boat ramps are open but athletic fields and courts are closed.

Can I still get mail?

You can and you will. That includes USPS mail, packages from Amazon or otherwise, groceries and more.

What about exercise?

Walking, running, riding your bicycle and all outdoor exercise is allowed as long as you still practice social distancing. Gyms and fitness centers remain closed.

Can I go to the vet or take my dog for a walk?

Seeking medical care for your pets is allowed as is taking your dog for a walk, just remember to keep 6 feet away from anyone you encounter.

Will churches be open?

Yes, but the social distancing rules still apply. Many local churches have opted to provide streaming services instead of in-person worship in order to protect their congregation. Check out the list here.

What about salons and beauty shops?

You’ll need to reschedule your manicure because they’ll be closed for the duration of the order.


Those are open along with dry cleaners.

Will day cares be open?

That’s the plan. The Florida Department of Children and Families oversees the state’s day care facilities and has provided those locations with guidelines.

What about homeless people?

Osceola County officials say they’re doing their best to keep that population safe by working with their partners to expand services and by reaching out to individuals at homeless camps.

How will the order be enforced?

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office will enforce the order, although deputies have noted that the ultimate goal is to keep people safe, not necessarily make arrests. That being said, violators can face a $500 fine or even jail time.

The order has left me feeling anxious and scared. Is there someone I can talk to?

That’s understandable and there are resources to help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Distress Helpline is available around the clock at 1-800-985-5990 (press “2″ for Spanish) or Text TalkWithUs to 66746. For Spanish, text Hablanos to 66746.

Rep. Rangel Joins Minimum Wage Challenge

News Release: Florida Senate
Updated: April 8, 2014, 4:45pm

TALLAHASSEE— As Republican lawmakers continue to stall any action on raising the minimum wage, Florida Democrats who have joined Senator Dwight Bullard’s challenge to live on the meager income for a week will hold a press conference tomorrow to discuss their progress.

“For the everyday minimum wage workers putting in 40 hours, they’re still having difficulties putting food on the table each week,” Senator Bullard (D-Miami) stated. “It’s amazing to see how many of those who oppose any increase are afraid to accept the challenge to live for a week on the status quo. What are they so afraid of?”

Senator Bullard’s “Live for a Week on Minimum Wage” began this past Monday, when he and other Democratic lawmakers challenged opponents to his minimum wage bill to survive on the average minimum wage salary of $317 per week (before taxes). So far, none of the Republicans have accepted.

At the event on Wednesday Senator Bullard will be joined by Florida House Representatives Cynthia Stafford, Kionne McGhee, Shevrin Jones, Bobby Powell, Ricardo Rangel, Victor Manuel Torres Jr, and Jose Javier Rodrigues. All of them have been pushing for legislation, including Senator Bullard’s SB 456, raising the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 to be heard in this year’s legislative session. Just past the half-way point, however, neither the Republican-led Senate nor the Republican-led House have made any effort to hear the bills, despite overwhelming public support for the increase.

Rep. Rangel Votes to bring down Vet unemployment

MAR 6, 2014

When Rep. Ricardo Rangel (D-Kissimmee) returned to civilian life from military duty in 2010, he says he had the same difficulty finding a job many veterans experience. So when Rep. Clay Ingram (R-Pensacola) offered up a bill encouraging companies to hire veterans, Rangel was excited to vote for it.

“It’ll give the opportunity for some of these private sector employers to actually go ahead and start putting in place their own criterias (sic) and their own program to assist veterans to find work, so thank you very much,” Rangel says.

And Steve Murray, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, says his agency views the measure as a way to lower the veteran unemployment rate.

“Our agency supports such an endeavor. We think it’s good to hire veterans,” Murray says. “We have seen nationally, of course, the veteran unemployment rate be a little bit higher than the rate of corresponding civilian employment.”

But employment lawyers weren’t as enthusiastic.

“The first thing I thought when I read this this morning was ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions,’” says Travis Hollifield, who runs his own employment law practice in Winter Park. He worries the law could engender racism or simply fly in the face of existing federal law which protects the rights of several classes of people when they apply for a job.

“So somebody for instance who does not like or does not want to hire Jewish people or black people or people over a certain age could potentially discriminate against those protected classes and use this statute as cover.”

Ingram, the bill’s author, acknowledged the current climate is one that cares about equal employment opportunity

“As of now, private employers could offer preference to veterans,” Ingram says. “But few would be comfortable doing so because the EEOC has said there’s the potential for disparate impact claims.”

But his bill specifies the Florida statute could not be construed as a violation of EEOC laws. But Hollifield says it’s not that simple and notes federal anti-discrimination laws can’t simply be broken by adding a line to state statute invalidating them. He says Ingram’s bill would give veterans preference not otherwise granted to them.

“It’s elevating a class that is not currently protected under the anti-discrimination laws and elevating it over those protected characteristics that are,” he says.

Still, the bill passed the House Veteran and Military Affairs Subcommittee unanimously Wednesday, with no one speaking in opposition.

Rep. Rangel fights for Bright Future Funding

Ricardo Rangel to Focus on Veteran Mental Health


January 7, 2013 – 6:00pm

Rep. Ricardo Rangel, D-Kissimmee
Date of Birth: June 5, 1977
Birthplace: Bronx, N.Y.
Education:Warner University, Master of Science in Management, 2009-2011
Occupation: Business consultant
Previous Public Office(s): None.
Family: Three children
Did you know?Once registered 10,000 Hispanic voters in Central Florida, within a two-and-a- half-month time period.Osceola County’s only Democratic state representative is also one of that party’s rising young stars. A self-styled “moderate,” he says what Florida needs is legislators who will leave their Rs and Ds at the door, to do what’s best for the Sunshine State.

Freshman Rep. Ricardo Rangel, D-Kissimmee, is an Army veteran, just like his father. He says his service in the Army, the reserves, and the National Guard is what has instilled in him a deep commitment to community activism.

Im a first-generation American, the first in my family to graduate college, and the first to enter politics, he tells Sunshine State News. What inspired me the most to participate in this process was thinking about the community. I started seeing politics get too polarized and I wanted to bring a whole new dynamic to the field, to help Florida become the state it needs to be.

Rangels commitment is no mere talk. Hes devoted the last several years of his young life to such causes as United We Paint (a charity which renovates public projects and private homes in low-income communities) and various ventures associated with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

Hes received a number of accolades for his accomplishments, including the Business Councils National Leadership Award and the NAACPs Emerging Leadership Award. In 2003 he was named Florida Young Democrat of the Year.

Appropriately enough, House Speaker Will Weatherford awarded Rangel his preferred committee assignment: the Veteran and Military Affairs Subcommittee. Rangel is also assigned to the Local and Federal Affairs Committee, State Affairs Committee and the subcommittees for Government Operations and Government Operations Appropriations.

Having served in the military federally, statewide, and locally has given me knowledge of the whole spectrum of the military and of veteran needs, he tells Sunshine State News. And being a 12-year finance manager for the Army, I got to see firsthand what goes into a military budget and what our needs are there.

He says his chief legislative priority will be a bill to address funding for veteran mental health, both the treatment of ill veterans themselves and the training of counselors to specially equip them to deal with the unique trauma militarypersonnelsuffer on the battlefield.

Hes also concerned about funding for Bright Futures and the ever-shifting criteria students need to satisfy in order to qualify for the state college scholarship program.

We also need to work with the universities on having more apprenticeships, like the trade associations have, he says. We need more funding for training. And people dont have to get [college] degrees; we can work to get people the proper certificates, or to take refresher courses that will help them to get, or to continue with, their jobs.

One suggestion he proposes to cover the costs of such endeavors isnt likely to sit well with at least some conservatives in the Republican-heavy Legislature: a state Internet sales tax.

Billions of dollars are generated through [Internet sales] and everybodys a beneficiary except the states that people are buying from; its basically like a tax loophole, in a way, he explains. In these times when we need funding, we really need to make sure everyone is doing what they need to do for their community. I dont think its too much to ask to have an Internet sales tax.

A measure more likely to receive bipartisan support is his suggestion that Tallahassee step in to streamline certain local regulations, so entrepreneurs are not paying the same fees to do business in areas covering multiple jurisdictions.

If someone wants to do something [business-oriented] in The Villages, there are three counties whose different regulations he has to comply with, he says by way of example. If you have someone who wants to start a business, we should work with local governments to make sure that were not going to take money away from [the governments] and at the same time not make business owners have to pay three different fees just to get something done in one area.

Rangel is confident he has what it takes to bring Republicans and Democrats together on these and other issues affecting the state.

One of the things that Ive mentioned to my colleagues is that we need to check our Rs and Ds at the door; we need to really become statesmen, he says. No one party has the superior ideas. No one party has all the answers.

Reach Eric Giunta at egiunta@sunshinestatenews.com or at (954) 235-9116.