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Covid roundup: New order for large gatherings issued as case numbers fall

Jaymi Butler

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Pinellas County emergency management officials recently released a 90-page report detailing the county's response to the Covid pandemic. File image.

With large outdoor events beginning to take place again, Pinellas County and municipal officials have put new rules in place to make sure these gatherings don’t contribute to the spread of Covid-19.

On Thursday, the county issued an emergency order outlining requirements for events with 1,000 or more attendees. St. Petersburg will issue a companion order in the near future.

“We have many events happening here and these measures will help ensure we’re as safe as possible until the Covid-19 vaccine is widely made available,” said County Administrator Barry A. Burton.

Under the new order, organizers of large events will be required to create a safety plan that outlines steps to protect patrons from Covid-19 and submit them in advance to the municipality where the event is scheduled to take place. 

 Each plan will describe how the event organizers will meet criteria such as:

  • Face covering requirements (mandatory for all event staff and attendees)
  • Caps on attendee numbers to maintain social distancing at all times
  • Safe access to and from the event, including screening of staff and individuals for any symptoms of the virus
  • Signage and communication to participants about the safety requirements
  • Sanitation and disinfection requirements

The emergency order does not apply to school events operated by or under the jurisdiction of the Pinellas County School Board, public health events such as mass vaccinations or testing, and religious rituals where social distancing is otherwise maintained.

The order will only remain in place until there is a consistent reduction in the spread of the virus, as well as sufficient vaccines made available to Pinellas County.

During a Thursday St. Petersburg city council meeting, city emergency manager Amber Boulding said that while the number of Covid cases were high during and after the holidays, things are moving in the right direction.

“We’re starting to see a little bit of a reprieve from those climbing numbers,” she said, noting a drop in cases being diagnosed and fewer hospitalizations. Additionally, Pinellas County now has the lowest two-week percent positivity rate of the state’s 10 most populated counties.

As far as Thursday’s numbers go, the Florida Department of Health reported another 323 cases of Covid-19 in Pinellas County and two additional deaths, bringing the cumulative county total since March to 55,564 cases and 1,208 deaths. The two-week percent positivity rate now stands at 8.26 percent. As of Thursday afternoon, there were 324 people hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of Covid-19 in Pinellas County’s acute-care hospitals, with 16.6 percent of adult ICU beds available. More than 49,000 people have been vaccinated against the virus countywide. To view an interactive ZIP code map of Covid cases in Pinellas County, click here

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