Ken Welch says ‘glass half full,’ spirits high after COVID-19 sends swearing-in virtual

ken welch good headshot (3) 12.27.21
Ken Welch's historic swearing-in as St. Pete's first Black Mayor will take place virtually Thursday.

The show, as they say, must go on. If even a bit behind schedule.

And St. Petersburg Mayor-elect Ken Welch said that’s exactly what will happen despite a positive COVID-19 test that is sending his swearing-in ceremony to the virtual realm and postponing his inaugural celebration.

“We’ve got so much to be thankful for and so many folks have lost so much during these last two years,” Welch said in a virtual address to reporters Tuesday. “Definitely looking at this glass-half-full. We’ll have time to celebrate going forward. And I’m kind of a workaholic anyway. I’m just ready to get to work.”

And Welch will have plenty of work to do once he’s sworn in as the first Black Mayor of a city that formally accepted the difficult truths of its racist past only weeks ago.

Welch said the ceremony being virtual doesn’t take away from its significance. Nor has it prevented him from working. Welch is in isolation for five days, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, and is set to enter City Hall as the 54th Mayor of the Sunshine City on Monday. He said he has been able to keep working by engaging city staff through Zoom meetings.

Welch, who is both fully vaccinated and boosted, has not had any significant health side effects and represents a growing number of breakthrough cases as the omicron variant of COVID-19 once again sends the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Florida soaring to record heights. Managing the rapid spread of omicron will be one of Welch’s first challenges.

“(We’ll) utilize the same approach as when I was on the County Commission in 2020,” Welch said. “Work with our health professionals, with our public safety professionals … Assess where we are and maintain a constant line of communication with our hospitals and our EMS community and make the proper adjustments as we go along. We will follow the science and always speak to the truth of what’s happening around us.”

Daniel Figueroa IV

Bronx, NY —> St. Pete, Fla. Just your friendly, neighborhood journo junkie with a penchant for motorcycles and Star Wars. Daniel has spent the last decade covering Tampa Bay and Florida for the Ledger of Lakeland, Tampa Bay Times, and WMNF. You can reach Daniel Figueroa IV at [email protected].


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