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Highlands County salons back In business

After spending nearly two months shut down, local hair and nail salons have been able to open their doors with specially designed health guidelines. This comes after last week when Governor Ron DeSantis announced that hair and nail salons would be added to Phase 1 of his reopening plan. Despite being opened, these businesses must adhere to various health guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

These guidelines include requiring all customers to have an appointment, allowing at least 15 minutes between customers to disinfect and clean the work station, prohibiting group appointments, and requiring that all employees performing personal services wear a mask. The governor also published suggested guidelines, such as customers wearing masks and removing all frequently touched items, such as magazines.

Even with the new reopening guidelines, local hair and nail salons were more than happy to be allowed to open. Eduardo Giraud, owner of Ed’s Barbershop in Sebring, explained to the Highlands News-Sun how his employees were working to keep the business sanitary.

“We’re wiping down each station between clients, it is appointment only, no guests allowed, no soliciting, and no outside food or beverages,” Giraud said. “We are doing everything possible to have our doors open while taking precautions between each client.”

All of his employees were seen complying with the governor’s guidelines as they had gloves and masks on, as well as limiting the number of clients to one per hour to allow for proper disinfecting. To make an appointment with Ed’s Barbershop, call 863-451-5687.

At Above and Beyond Hair & Body in Lake Placid, they are glad to be back to work.

“We are doing good, we are open and following protocol,” Samantha Twiggs said. “We have our customers sit outside, they call the shop and we escort them in. It is going smooth as silk. We are masking; clients don’t necessarily have to, but we are having them wash their hands when they get here. We are keeping six feet apart, cleaning as we go and sterilizing in between clients. We have a UV light that we use at night.

“Everyone is glad to be here and we are happy to be open. One of our biggest changes is not having the lobby open.”

Above and Beyond’s barber has made the biggest adjustment. Brad Stuteville went from working solely on walk-ins to having to switch to appointments.

“Making that adjustment has worked out fabulously for Brad,” Twiggs said. “The clients have been so patient and understanding. They have brought us flowers and cake. Our first week back has been a very big success. Clients are happy and phone has been ringing off the hook.”

To make an appointment with Above and Beyond Hair & Body, call 863-699-2242 or visit aboveandbodyhairandbody.com

Adam’s Barbershop had one of their best weeks in shop history.

“We have been very busy. It took us three days to get back to a normal pace of work,” said Skip Adams, owner and operator of Adam’s Barbershop. “The first three days were the best monetary days I’ve had in 40 years.

“Everyone is happy to get their hair cut and we are happy to get back to work. Everyone takes pride in having a job to go to. Having five to six weeks off was just too much for me, I like my work.”

Adam’s Barbershop has made a few changes since reopening.

“The mandatory changes are wearing a mask while performing a service, we have to use an appointment system to keep less people in the shop, we allow extra time between clients and extra sanitation,” Adams said. “Most of the customers have been pretty good. We have had a few impatient people who don’t like change. We have always been a walk-in business and now we have to go to an appointment system.”

For an appointment with Adam’s Barbershop, call 863-385-7858. If you do walk-up to the shop there is a sign-in sheet. Everyone is required to wait outside of the shop.

With all the new guidelines, these salons are asking for patience and compliance with the new guidelines. This includes making appointments at a salon with sufficient time, rescheduling appointments if a client feels ill, and having patience when wanting to make an appointment.

Hair and nail salons face an unprecedented amount of demand for their service and appointment times are quickly filling up. These guidelines require a lot from the salon employees and very little is known as to when these guidelines will expire. What is certain is that these guidelines will be the new norm for the foreseeable future.

Miguel Arceo is a columnist with the Highlands News-Sun.

Highlands virus count unchanged

SEBRING — After one new case on both Thursday and Friday, there were no new COVID-19 cases in Highlands on Saturday and Sunday keeping the overall tally of cases at 104.

But, the statewide total of positive cases is now 46,442, according to the Monday morning update from the Florida Department of Health. There were 1,200 new cases on Saturday and 666 new cases on Sunday.

The South Florida counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach had a total of 1,108 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday and Sunday.

The Florida Department of Health Highlands will be having more drive-thru COVID-19 testing events on the following dates:

• Today from 9-11 a.m. at the Lake Placid Camp and Conference Center, 2665 Placid View Drive in Lake Placid.

• Thursday, May 21 from 5-7 p.m. at the Florida Department of Health Highlands County, 7205 S. George Blvd., in Sebring.

• Tuesday, May 26 from 9-11 a.m. at Memorial Elementary School, 867 S. Memorial Drive, Sebring.

A total of 2,460 people have been tested in Highlands with 4.2% resulting is positive results for having the virus.

Statewide, 677,710 have been tested with 6.9% being positive.

Nationwide, there have been 1,491,547 cases and 89,666 deaths.

New York has the highest number of cases and deaths with 350,121 cases and 28,232 deaths.

Montana has the fewest cases with 470 positive cases and 16 deaths.

Wyoming has the fewest deaths with 8 and 754 positive cases.

Worldwide, there have been 4,758,937 cases and 316,277 deaths.

Pigman returns to the frontlines

LAKE PLACID — Dr. Cary Pigman returned to work on the frontlines at AdventHealth Lake Placid Emergency Room on Sunday. Just six weeks ago, on April 2, Pigman became the patient after his bicycle collided with a car, leaving him with life-threatening injuries.

Pigman’s scenic Okeechobee 30-mile bike ride on neighborhood roads, ended with a ride to Raulerson Hospital in Okeechobee. After being stabilized, Pigman was flown to Tampa General Hospital. His list of injuries included a fractured sternum, pelvis, ribs and the first vertebrae in his lumbar spine. In addition, his right lung was punctured and his left lung was filled with blood.

Pigman credits the swift action and knowledgeable medical professionals at Raulerson and Tampa General Hospital with saving his life. Additionally, he feels if he were not wearing a good quality bicycle helmet, the outcome would have probably been a much different scenario.

Pigman said he has been doing physical therapy, yoga and stretching activities. He takes an over-the-counter pain reliever when necessary.

His first shift back was Sunday when Pigman worked a 12-hour shift from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. He said in emergency medicine, there is no time to dip your toes in the water; you have to dive right in.

“I will say, I had the best sleep on Sunday that I have had in six weeks,” Pigman joked.

Pigman’s passion for medicine and his patients pushed him to get back to work.

“People like me, who like what we do, are not doing what we are trained to do, we become listless,” Pigman said. “We love helping people. At work, we are a team because we are similarly oriented.”

Pigman said he missed the team the most. His did not miss some of the sadder aspects of his job.

“When I retire, I don’t know when that will be, I will not miss notifying family that their loved ones have not made it.” That was a message that Pigman had to deliver to a family on Sunday.

There were no major changes that took place in the six-week absence from the hospital. Pigman said he did not have the statistics handy, but in his opinion, Highlands is seeing less COVID-19 cases lately.

Pigman said emergency rooms are not as busy as they were before the outbreak.

“The emergency rooms are safe,” he said. “If you need care, come in. If you have had a gallbladder troubling you, or need other elective surgeries, now is the time to get them scheduled.”

Highlands Art League forced to downsize

SEBRING — The Highlands Art League is being forced to downsize due to a loss of revenue, which according to the League, would put it back to where the organization was 20 years ago.

In a March 30 letter to Mayor John Shoop and the City Council, Highlands Art League Executive Director, Museum of the Arts Curator Janell Marmon expressed that various circumstances have resulted in a loss of revenue prompting a downsizing of the amount of properties it is leasing from the City of Sebring.

“The Art League regrettably is forced to make deep cuts to our physical property management and obligations under the contract we currently hold with the City of Sebring,” she said.

The cuts are necessary, “due to the inability of the Highlands Art League to turn the tide caused by lost revenue after a long period of shut down and limited services caused by a lengthy remodeling of our Visual Arts Center, a termination by The Grateful Hearts prior to the end of their contract with us, and further damages due to loss of revenue resulting from cancellations of our annual spring fundraisers, the Race Gala and Derby Party.”

The League wants to downsize by returning the properties at 1971 Lakeview Drive (The Clovelly House) and 1985 Lakeview Drive (The Yellow House).

A $50,000 state grant the League received in 2016 makes the Visual Arts Center, which is behind the Yellow House, a more complicated issue, according to the council agenda item prepared by City Administrator Scott Noethlich.

The grant was awarded with the provision that the property would remain a “cultural facility” for a period of 10 years, concluding on June 30, 2026. Should the facility not be used as a cultural facility, all or part of the grant award must be repaid depending on when the facility ceased to be used as a cultural facility, according to the agenda.

The City of Sebring staff recommendation is to vacate the lease for the two properties and instruct city and CRA staff to review options for use of the property, including options for the Visual Arts Center.

The City Council meets at 6 p.m. today with the agenda including the Highlands Art League property leasing matter.

Marmon stated that as the Highlands Art League progresses post pandemic, the League hopes to explore further the possibilities for the future of the Visual Arts Center, along with that of the Museum of the Arts and Highlands Art League as “we progress as a non-profit in the community.

“We hope only to be able to serve members of the community, the council and our artists through our mission, continuing to be the asset we hope we have been in our 55 years as an arts organization in Sebring.”