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Jane Castor, Rick Kriseman partner for unifying coronavirus message

Both Mayors have been leading efforts to impose regional restrictions on individuals and businesses.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman teamed up to share a regional message on staying safe as COVID-19 bears down on Florida.

“We are working day and night to keep our residents informed and safe, but we’re also working together in an unprecedented fashion,” Castor said in a video posted to YouTube Thursday.

The video launched the day after Pinellas County approved and Hillsborough County tentatively approved “safer at home” orders urging residents to stay home as often as possible and shuttering businesses who are not able to employ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on social distancing.

Both Castor and Kriseman lead efforts in their respective counties to ensure policies were put into place and both are calling for statewide action to ensure uniformity.

“COVID-19 knows no boundaries. It doesn’t stop at the water’s edge. Its impact on one region in Florida is a threat to all of Florida; to every Floridian,” Kriseman said in the video.

“And that’s why we need you to continue practicing common sense, heed the guidance of experts, as well as the directives of our respective cities. This is a serious public health emergency, and no one is immune,” Castor added.

The video oscillates between the two Mayors showing scenes of their respective cities, including images of now nostalgic gatherings like St. Pete’s Pride Parade and Tampa’s River O’ Green festival, which was cancelled this year amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Pinellas County’s safer at home order takes effect Thursday just before 11:30. It allows both essential and non-essential businesses to continue operating, but mandates that they do so under CDC guidelines. Individuals are free to roam about, but also must follow social distancing guidelines.

Hillsborough’s order, which is largely similar, will take effect Friday at 10 p.m., assuming leaders approve it Thursday afternoon.

“Like Mayors throughout America, Jane and I are committed to simply doing the right thing and protecting public health and safety. This isn’t about politics. It’s about our community and now, more than ever, we need to come together as one nation, one state, one Tampa Bay,” Kriseman said.

The Hillsborough order came after Castor announced she would impose a citywide order after the County Emergency Policy Group declined to move forward with one earlier in the week. After that announcement, county leaders came together to offer up a compromise order.

“We appreciate our region’s efforts to date and urge you to continue to stay inside unless you are in need off essential services or fresh air. The actions we take today will save lives tomorrow. Tampa Bay, we can do this together even if we have to be apart for a little while,” she closed out in the video.

Statewide, Gov. Ron DeSantis has been reluctant to issue his own order, prompting local governments to take individual action.


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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