Mayor Rick Kriseman announced via Facebook Live Tuesday that the age demographics of COVID-19 cases in Pinellas County have shifted. According to data from the Pinellas County Department of Health, residents age 25-34 now represent the largest demographic of positive COVID-19 tests in the county, nearly 17 percent of the total cases.
In March, ages 75 and older were the largest group to test positive for COVID-19.
Kriseman said that in the last several days, more than 7,000 tests have been conducted in Pinellas County. Increased testing has brought with it more positive cases, but Kriseman said the percent of positive cases has also increased over the last few weeks. These cases have not just been in long-term care, he said, but rather indicate community spread.
Kriseman said it’s too soon to tell if local protests following the death of George Floyd were contributing to the increase in COVID-19 cases in Pinellas. Floyd died in police custody after a Minneapolis Police officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, sparking protests throughout the country and across the globe.
“All of you millennials who thought you were immune to this virus, who thought that the only people who were afflicted by coronavirus were Baby Boomers and those older than them, you were wrong,” Kriseman said. “And it’s time that your generation started taking this more seriously.”
“If you get the virus, your death rate may not be as high as someone who is 75 years old, but you can just as easily infect someone who is 75 years old. That person could be your parent or your grandparent and they could die from the virus.”
Kriseman went on to ask St. Pete residents to practice the “St. Pete Way,” and follow the social distancing guidelines outlined by the city of St. Petersburg, the whether out at bars and restaurants or at work.
He also called on business owners, “If you’re a business owner in St. Pete and you have employees who interact with the public, and they’re not wearing masks, you’re doing it the wrong way.”
“If you run an office space and you have employees who are able to telecommute but aren’t, you’re doing it the wrong way.”
Kriseman pleaded with residents and business owners to “tighten up,” warning that the economic and emotional costs of re-closing could be catastrophic. When asked if he would consider requiring masks to keep the percent positive cases below six percent (an indicator Kriseman has established as a marker for successful reopening and a possible trigger for re-closing), Kriseman said: “Nothing is off the table.”
As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, Pinellas County reported 41 new cases, bringing the total to 1,679, and four more deaths, bringing the total to 99.