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If a stay at home order were issued, grocery stores would remain open.


If Tampa orders ‘stay at home,’ will St. Pete and Pinellas follow?

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor believes an order is imminent.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor is meeting with members of the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group Monday at 1:30 where she hopes the county will take action and issue a stay at home order to amp up efforts to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Castor made it clear in several media interviews Saturday that she was hopeful such an order would come to fruition and would be surprised if it didn’t happen on Monday.

If that comes through, it’s like public calls from both residents and elected and health officials would begin looking to neighboring communities to do the same.

Ben Kirby, Communications Director for St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman wouldn’t say whether that was coming in his city, but said updates would be coming soon. Kriseman had been hoping for statewide uniformity on action.

Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard said her board has not yet discussed the option, but is holding a conference call Monday with the County Administrator, emergency management team and the health department to assess next steps.

Under a stay at home order, all citizens would be asked to stay at home and non-essential businesses forced to close indefinitely. Businesses like pharmacies, gas stations, grocery stores and banks would still be permitted to be open as well as any other day-to-day necessities.

Restaurants have already been forced to close dining rooms, but would be permitting to continue to offer drive-through, take-out or delivery options, according to Castor.

Individuals and employees providing or utilizing remaining good and services would still be asked to maintain the social distancing recommendations of a six-foot buffer when in public.

Castor told the Tampa Bay Times the move is necessary to ensure a quicker reduction in case spread and to “flatten the curve.” But she reassured citizens that the result would not be a “police state.”

Castor, whose office referred to Saturday media remarks when asked for an update, maintained optimism that businesses and individuals would do the right thing and pointed to only a handful of business that have had to be addressed by Tampa Police for non-compliance with existing orders.

As of Sunday evening, 1,007 cases of coronavirus were reported in Florida including 937 from residents. Of those, 58 cases were in Hillsborough County, 54 of whom are residents. No one in Hillsborough has died of the virus has died, but six have been hospitalized.

The statewide and local cases reported continue to increase daily as more and more residents access testing, which Castor and other officials still believe to be woefully lacking.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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