There were 101 confirmed cases of Covid-19 coronavirus in St. Petersburg as of Tuesday night, an increase of four cases since earlier in the day Tuesday.
Among the confirmed cases is a St. Petersburg police officer, said Mayor Rick Kriseman during a Tuesday briefing on Facebook Live. The officer became ill while on vacation, has not been on duty and has not had any contact with city personnel or other police officers since March 10.
While the numbers in St. Petersburg have been increasing, the city still has fewer confirmed cases than several smaller municipalities such as Naples, Fort Myers, Bradenton and Gainesville, according to the most recent data from the Florida Department of Health.
Kriseman was an early advocate of the “stay at home” message to control the spread of the illness, and he repeated that message during the briefing.
“Overall St. Pete you are doing a fantastic job. I believe the actions that we have taken — and assuming we continue to aggressively take them — will ultimately flatten the curve sooner or to a greater degree than first anticipated,” Kriseman said.
Still, Kriseman said, he remains concerned that some young adults are not adhering closely enough to stay at home orders.
New data. As you can see there’s no age discrimination in Pinellas County as it relates to #COVID2019. We are all at risk and that’s why we must remain Safer at Home. Get your essentials, get your food, get your sunshine, then go home. pic.twitter.com/8PwpH78jze
— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) April 4, 2020
“The graph shows there is no age discrimination when it comes to the virus. In fact, one of the groups most prone to being infected in Pinellas is ages 24 through 34. This is roughly the same age group that I see still not taking this as seriously as we would like them to,” Kriseman said.
“We need all age groups, and specifically our young people who think they are invincible, to understand that safer at home means you are safer at home. Neither Pinellas nor the governor issued a safer while social distancing order. They issued a safer at home order.”
Kriseman said he’s gotten reports of groups that have been congregating in parks, which remain open but only for walking, running or jogging.
“If I continue to get reports of pickleball and tennis courts that are filled with players and folks waiting to play — all of whom are not social distancing — or people sitting on benches next to each other in between games, clearly not maintaining appropriate social distances, I will close those courts. Make no mistake about that,” he said.
As the number of Covid-19 cases increases, St. Petersburg is prepared for a surge, Kriseman said.
“The data we have so far suggests we do have available hospital beds and the availability of those beds would not be a problem. However, ICU beds and ventilators are something that we are monitoring and trying to make sure that we are in a good position related to both of those things. We are working with the county health department to make sure that the issue related to ICU beds and ventilators is addressed. The county also has identified backup facilities in the event those become necessary,” Kriseman said.
He said the city has enough personal protective equipment for the immediate future for police, fire and other first responders, but the city is working with vendors to make sure it has enough PPE for future use.
St. Petersburg also is working with Pinellas County to identify hotels and other lodgings that could shelter people who test positive but don’t need hospitalization and cannot self-isolate at home.
As of Tuesday night, there were 387 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Pinellas County and nine deaths, including a 76-year-old woman who died on March 26 but whose death from coronavirus was not confirmed until Tuesday.