As St. Petersburg gears up for a busy week of Tampa Bay Rays World Series watch parties and Firestone Grand Prix races, Mayor Rick Kriseman stressed the importance of remaining vigilant in the fight against Covid-19 while still managing to have a little fun.
“There is obviously some cause for concern as Covid infections are ticking back up,” he said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the St. Pete Pier.
According to Tuesday’s data from the Florida Department of Health, Pinellas County has had more than 24,300 cases of Covid-19 and 803 deaths since the pandemic began in March. The county’s rolling two-week positivity rate has also been slowly inching upward. After dropping as low as 3 percent in early October, the percentage now stands at 4.5 percent, reaching 6.12 percent overnight.
“Here in Florida, the governor’s phase three reopening and announcement related to local mask enforcement has caused considerable confusion among residents and business owners,” Kriseman said. “I can’t stress this enough. The Pinellas County mask ordinance remains in effect.”
This past week alone, more than a dozen businesses have been cited for violating the order, he said, putting other businesses on notice of what will happen should they not play by the rules.
“We will cite you and we will hold you accountable,” he warned, noting the city isn’t trying to be punitive in its actions. “The goal is for our businesses and economy to stay open and coexist with the virus until the virus can be treated successfully or until a vaccine is introduced.”
When talking of the upcoming events, Kriseman took on a more lighthearted tone and encouraged everyone to “soak in the moment” and enjoy the escape sports can provide while continuing to be mindful of mask wearing and social distancing.
At Rays watch parties, which begin Tuesday night at Spa Beach Park, about 400 8×8 pods will be set up with six people permitted per pod on a first-come, first-served basis. This weekend’s Grand Prix, an event that normally brings up to 250,000 race enthusiasts to St. Pete, will limit attendance to 20,000 fans. Health screening questions and temperature checks will be conducted on all spectators before they can get through the gates, hand sanitizer stations and hand washing stations will be placed throughout the site and increased cleaning and sanitation measures will be implemented.
“We want to show our city off in a big way, and in a way that shows how seriously we do take Covid,” Kriseman said.
As for how long that showing off will go on for the Rays, who are in the World Series for only the second time in team history, Kriseman said he’s hopeful the Rays can sweep but anticipates the series with the Los Angeles Dodgers to reach Game Six. And he shared what’s on the line in the friendly wager between himself and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“On the off chance that we’re not successful, I have pledged to send some Yucatan shrimp from Doc Fords, some of our amazing craft beer from one of our craft breweries and art from one of our local mural artists,” Kriseman said. “He was talking about sending some Dodger Dogs, some salsa and some craft beer from one of their craft breweries in south LA.”
You ready, @MayorOfLA? On the off-chance the @Dodgers win, I’ll send some @DocFords Yucatan Shrimp, @StPeteFL craft beer, and local art your way. I know our friend @JaneCastor may want to throw in some Tampa flavor, too! Looking forward to a fun #WorldSeries. #RaysUp
— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) October 20, 2020