Ken Welch tests positive for COVID-19, in-person inauguration ceremony canceled

Instead, the Mayor-elect will be sworn in virtually.

St. Petersburg Mayor-elect Ken Welch has tested positive for COVID-19, his team announced Monday afternoon. As a result, his Thursday inauguration ceremony will be canceled and replaced with a virtual swearing-in with a short recorded speech.

Welch will remain in isolation for at least the next five days, in accordance with current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

“Let this serve as a reminder to all of us to get vaccinated and follow CDC guidelines to minimize the spread of COVID-19,” Welch said in a statement. “While this is disappointing, I am incredibly thankful that my current symptoms are not serious, and I keep in my thoughts and prayers with all the families who have lost so much more to this pandemic. Though we will not be able to celebrate in person, let us keep front of mind the significance of the day — the day that we begin a journey together, as one community in one city, toward inclusive progress. We will have much more to celebrate together in the years to come.”

Welch, who has been vaccinated and received a booster in November, first tested positive Monday morning using an at-home test kit. A second PCR test later in the day was also positive.

The Mayor-elect is expected to speak virtually with reporters on Tuesday.

Welch, who is set to be the city’s first Black Mayor, was originally slated for an historic inauguration ceremony on Thursday on the steps of City Hall, with events scheduled throughout the day. However, last week, the Mayor-elect decided to postpone a number of planned celebrations after the inauguration out of concern for the spike in COVID-19 cases in the area.

Now, Welch will work from home until he is cleared from isolation, and is expected to begin working from City Hall on Monday, January 10th. He will be the city’s 54th Mayor.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


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