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Kriseman holds first call for Restart St. Pete advisors, shares initial criteria for reopening

Megan Holmes



Restart St. Pete advisors (except St. Pete Catalyst reporter Megan Holmes)

During the first gathering of St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman’s Restart St. Pete task force, he named four criteria he sees as critical to the first step in reopening St. Petersburg’s economy.

The task force, which Kriseman named last week, is comprised of elected officials, business and nonprofit leaders, health professionals, transportation advisors and local arts and cultural leaders. The entire task force met Monday morning via Zoom to meet the other task force participants and receive a briefing from Kriseman and Amber Boulding, City of St. Petersburg Emergency Management Manager.

During the call, Kriseman said he has begun forming his own ideas for reopening, based on weekly calls with the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, which has brought in speakers ranging from former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama; to Bill Gates; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Joshua M. Sharfstein.

Kriseman said that as of now, he has four initial criteria to be met prior to reopening:

  1. Percentage of positive tests do not increase for 14 consecutive days.
  2. Hospital capacity remains strong, as hospitals plan to restart elective procedures and care outside of Covid-19.
  3. Testing is available to each person who presents symptoms and test results can be obtained within a reasonable window, defined as within 24-48 hours.
  4. The city/county has developed the ability to contact trace, or monitor the contacts of infected persons.

“These four indicators represent my thoughts as I appear before you all today,” Kriseman said. “But you’re here because I value your opinions. You have information and knowledge that I may not have had the benefit of hearing, and you represent points of view that may not have been presented to me.

“As such, your input will be important to me as I weigh all of the data, the opinions and recommendations that I have received, including those that I’m going to receive on Thursday from city council when making my decisions on when and how to restart St. Pete.”

Kriseman reiterated concerns that have pervaded the news over the last weeks, that social distancing could be here to stay until a vaccine for Covid-19 is available, which would take at last a year to 18 months. Life, he said, will likely be different during that time.

“I believe getting back to normal will require a gradual but focused restart of our local economy and a responsible return to our previous culture and our way of live,” Kriseman explained, “while maintaining protocols that preserve and promote health.”

“Some form of social distancing may be something we practice for quite a while,” he said.

He asked advisors to consider their own thoughts on indicators that the city should be looking at, as well as when would be an appropriate time for the city to scale back some of the restrictions currently in place. He asked advisors to consider protocols for social distancing and risk mitigation, and how businesses might be able to reopen while protecting patrons and employees from the spread of the virus.

Outside of businesses, Kriseman explained that he is also concerned about public transportation, the school calendar, summer camps and youth programs, as well as when it might be appropriate to allow tourists once again, weddings, funerals, parties and other pieces of daily life.

Kriseman asked if it might be possible to replace additional city orders and directives with a call for social responsibility, something he called “The St. Pete Way,” simple directives to do the right thing, look out for one another and understand the consequences of not doing things according to guidelines.

“The truth here is none of us are experts in how to reopen a city following a global pandemic,” Krseman said. “This is a unique and challenging time but if anyone is up for it, it’s us here in St. Pete. I’ve learned a lot in nearly 6.5 years. The one thing I’ve learned time and time again is that this city, there is a spirit that is unmatched anywhere. There is magic that happens here in St. Pete. Our people are engaged, they’re passionate, and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to see this city succeed.”

The full list of Restart St. Pete Advisors includes:

  • Dr. David Berman, Board certified pediatric infectious disease specialist, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital
  • Olga Bof, Executive Director, Keep Saint Petersburg Local
  • Amber Boulding, City of St. Petersburg Emergency Management Manager
  • John Collins, Executive Director, St. Petersburg Arts Alliance
  • Duggan Cooley, CEO, Pinellas Community Foundation
  • J.P. DuBuque, President and CEO, Greater St. Petersburg Area EDC
  • Dexter Fabian, Publisher, I Love the Burg St. Pete
  • Rene Flowers, Pinellas County School Board Member
  • Rev. Watson Haynes, President and CEO, Pinellas County Urban League
  • Dr. Mona Mangat, Member/Past Board Chair Doctors for America, Board-certified allergist & immunologist, Bay Area Allergy and Asthma
  • Jason Mathis, CEO, St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership
  • Brad Miller, CEO, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority
  • Scott Smith, President, St. Anthony’s Hospital
  • Chris Steinocher, President and CEO, St Petersburg Chamber
  • Dr. Kanika Tomalin, City Administrator and Deputy Mayor
  • Michael Vivio, CEO-Owner, Corp Fitness Works
  • Dr. Israel Wojnowich, City of St. Petersburg Physician, Board certified Family Medicine, Bayfront Health Medical Group
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  1. Avatar

    Scott Broughton

    April 27, 2020at6:14 pm

    With advice from the Bloomberg Harvard group St pete May never open. Hope the mayor gets in his car and see the damage the lock down has and is doing. I don’t see any small businesses on your task force. Only figureheads who look at reports and not our business community. Ty, Scott, owner and operator Central laundry St pete. 3501 central ave.

  2. Avatar

    Robert Hughes

    April 27, 2020at8:00 pm

    You can’t wait until there is a vaccine for a year or a year and a half. Totally ridiculous to think like
    that because all of our shops will be out of business before then. There are no small business owners on the board who have their life savings invested in their business. Open May 1st with distance and occupancy restrictions for the first two weeks then the next two weeks relax the restrictions a little bit at a time until we do get back to normal. And yes we will get back to normal!!! What’s going to happen next time there is another flu outbreak? Shut everything down again? That is not how we should look at this every time there is another flu season. No news network is comparing deaths from the common flu every year to this coronavirus. I’m pretty sure the flu has killed more people and that is every year. Also keep politics out of decision making. It’s nobody’s fault how we got this virus but it will be somebody’s fault if the Mayors and Governor don’t get the economy going strong again by procrastinating. No excuses! The majority wants to get back to work especially the hospitality, hotels, bars and restaurants along with all of the smaller mom and pop shops. Hospitals are losing money because they are not allowed to do surgeries and like the previous guy said the hospitals are pretty empty around St. Pete. So quit stalling and open it up May 1st.

  3. Avatar

    Faith sherry

    April 28, 2020at9:56 am

    Yes hospitals are empty and laying people off. A vaccine is not a real solution as half the country doesn’t get the regular flu vaccine??? Why does no one bring this up? And yes if talk to any doctor they are going to say it is safer at home forever. Let the people who want to go to work do so and the ones who are scared of breathing stay home till they feel OK with it. People are losing their businesses which is going to cause more grief. A doctor in NY killed herself over all of this. How much longer can this nonsense go on. I really can’t believe that the entire country just did what the government told them without question in the first place? We live in a free country. This is a slippery slope.

  4. Avatar

    Basha Jordan, Jr.

    April 29, 2020at3:49 pm

    Consider having at least two full-time pastors on the task force to bring a spiritual perspective to the decision making process. They also have considerable influence in the community and will be able to communicate the decisions of the task force to many people regardless of the decisions made.

    Since African Americans are dying at disproportionate numbers from this pandemic,
    it would be helpful to have more representation from this population on the task force as well.

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