St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman announced the start of a new COVID-19 prevention campaign Monday morning to combat the growing numbers of cases in the community.
The initiative, “Race to Safe,” is a last-ditch effort to encourage residents to practice COVID-19 safety measures to prevent another lockdown. The goal is to become Florida’s most coronavirus safe community.
“We haven’t been perfect — we can do more and we can do better,” Kriseman said. “We’ve issued more citations than we should’ve had to.”
The campaign will not change any ordinances or create new rules, but instead calls on residents to double down on current rules in place to prevent spreading the virus, like wearing masks and practicing social distancing, especially while out at restaurants and bars. The “Race to Safe” campaign aims to educate and provide more resources to the community to stay safe.
The county made it clear last week that it will enforce existing ordinances, with Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri criticizing restaurants and bars for not following precautionary measures following an investigation.
In a three day period — from Nov. 13 through Nov. 15 — deputies went to nearly 2,800 restaurants across the county, some multiple times, to ensure accuracy. They found 40% of bars and 8% of restaurants were not practicing COVID-19 precautions.
Pinellas County’s positivity rate over the last two weeks stands at 5.8%, the lowest of Florida’s 10 most populated counties, but still above Kriseman’s goal to remain below 5%. Currently, 2,902 people are hospitalized with the virus in the county, and 33,857 residents have tested positive for the virus.
“I am proud of where we are in comparison to others, but quite frankly, it’s not good enough,” Kriseman said. “We must bring that number down.”
Kriseman asked residents to reconsider going to large family or public gatherings, especially in celebration of the approaching holidays.
“Let’s celebrate the holidays wisely this year, so that we’re around for them next year,” Kriseman said.