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Pinellas Covid-19 cases soar, Peerfit makes cuts and other info you need to know

Margie Manning



Pinellas County had 21 confirmed cases of Covid-19 coronavirus as of 11 a.m. Friday, a 50 percent increase in just 24 hours. Thirteen men and eight women, all Pinellas County residents, tested positive for the illness, the Florida Department of Health said.

There were 520 Florida cases, about 90 percent of those among Florida residents as of Friday morning. While people 60 to 69 years old are the largest single group to be impacted, the cases span a wide range of ages, according to a chart from the health department that was based on data from Thursday.

Bradenton-based Bealls has closed its stores effective today, and the pandemic is taking a toll at Peerfit, one of the fastest-growing companies in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. Just a few days after being named a “best startup employer” by Forbes and placing No. 13 on Inc.’s list of 250 most successful companies in Florida, CEO Ed Buckley made a tough announcement on Facebook.


“The market is significantly different today than it was three months ago. It would be irresponsible and naive for a venture-backed company to run the same way,” Buckley told the St. Pete Catalyst. “The decision is one we didn’t take lightly. The executive team and board are aligned on this, and we will focus on opportunities in front of us, as well as our existing commitments.”

He declined to say how many people were let go, but said a significant number of roles were kept, and Peerfit will be ready to evolve as a growth company again. But business as usual is done, he said. “Even for companies that survive and emerge, they will emerge as different companies with different strategies and priorities,” Buckley said.

More than half of U.S. small business owners — 51  percent — say their business will not be able to continue operating more than three months due to economic strain caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Goldman Sachs survey of more than 1,500 small business owners conducted March 16-17 and reported by Axios.

JPMorgan Chase Institute research shows that 50 percent of small businesses have less than 15 cash buffer days, meaning the small business economy could be majorly disrupted by the current climate. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) said it will deploy $8 million, including $5 million in the U.S. and $3 million in international markets, to support vulnerable and underserved small businesses. It’s part of a larger $50 million global philanthropic commitment to address the immediate public health and long-term economic challenges from pandemic.

One local company is making lemons out of lemonade — or more precisely, hand sanitizer out of the resources it normally would use to make vodka.

Kozuba & Sons, a St. Petersburg-based craft distillery, has halted production on its artisanal vodka and is shifting to production of hand sanitizer for the community, following the World Health Organization hand sanitizer formulation recommendations. Kozuba will donate a large portion of the bottles to first responders, medical facilities and community organizations. The company said in a press release that it would have dates and distribution details on its social media channels.


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Thank you so much for all of your support in our hand sanitizer efforts! We’re so fortunate to have a strong community at our back and have been deeply moved by the positivity and interest we’ve received. We are following WHO requirements for the recipe, including all necessary ingredients. Our ingredients and components are in transit, and we’re moving as quickly as possible. We’re working through a distribution plan with public safety as top priority. The last thing we want to do is put anyone at risk, so we’re working through a plan to distribute our hand sanitizer in partnership with community leaders and local organizations so as many people as possible can benefit. Additionally, we’re planning to donate a large portion of our initial production directly to first responders, medical facilities, and community organizations—those organizations that are at the front line of the pandemic and struggling to obtain necessary supplies. Stay tuned for more distribution updates!

A post shared by Kozuba & Sons Distillery (@kozubadistillery) on



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