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Roundup: Kriseman’s message to Trump, scam crackdown, TECO’s $1M donation, USF makes face masks

Margie Manning

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061129-N-5416W-005 Norfolk, Va. (Nov. 29, 2006) - Hospital Corpsman Seaman Jered Cotshwar sortÕs blood samples during a ship's blood drive aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist Seaman William Weinert (RELEASED)

Today’s roundup has updates from Mayor Rick Kriseman, the federal attorney in Tampa, Tampa Electric and People’s Gas, and University of South Florida.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has called on President Trump to fully enforce the Defense Production Act to mitigate the worst impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak. The federal law allows the president to direct private companies to contribute needed resources to respond to a national crisis.

“My fellow mayors remain focused on the worst public health crisis our nation has faced in recent memory. Cities around the nation are facing shortages when it comes to necessary equipment and supplies to safeguard our first responders and residents. Now is the time for politicians in Washington to lead,” Kriseman said in a prepared statement.

He echoed a call from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which conducted a survey last week and found that cities across the country are facing a shortage of vital protective equipment and supplies.

“Unless the federal government does everything in its power to help us safeguard our first responders and health care workers – our first line of defense – and the millions of other public servants in our cities whose work today puts them at risk, this life-threatening crisis will continue,” a letter from the Conference of Mayors to the president said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida is prioritizing investigation of crimes related to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Federal prosecutors have teamed up with other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to form the Middle District of Florida Covid-19 Fraud Task Force, which will identify, investigate, and prosecute frauds, such as the sale of bogus cures, phishing emails purporting to be from health organizations, or solicitations for donations for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations.

Law enforcement, public safety and health personnel, and first responders have been encouraged to report related suspicious or suspected illegal activity to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or to the NCDF e-mail address disaster@leo.gov. The NCDF can receive and enter complaints into a centralized system that can be accessed by all U.S. Attorneys, as well as Justice Department litigating and law enforcement components to identify, investigate and prosecute fraud schemes. From there, complaints will be coordinated among at least 16 additional federal law enforcement agencies, as well as state Attorneys General and local authorities.

Tampa Electric and TECO Peoples Gas are donating $1 million to local charities that will benefit people financially affected by the pandemic.

Half of the money will go to the Share program, which supports customers who cannot pay their utility bills. The program, administered by the Salvation Army, was also simplified to provide assistance to more people during the pandemic. The other half will be donated to other charitable partner organizations working on the front lines of the pandemic, providing critical support to the community through meals, housing and other assistance.

Both utilities have suspended disconnections for residential and commercial customers. They encourage customers to stay as current as possible on their utility bills to avoid accumulating a large balance. The utilities are also working with customers to help connect them with utility bill-payment resources and other assistance, as appropriate.

The charitable contributions are paid by shareholders and do not affect customer bills, a news release said.

A face shield produced at the USF Mini-Circuits Design for X Laboratory (Photo credit: USF)

The University of South Florida College of Engineering has delivered 100 face shields to Tampa General Hospital. Medical staff wear the shields over face masks while interacting with patients to protect against the spread of coronavirus.

The USF Mini-Circuits Design for X Laboratory has developed an assembly line under the direction of Michael Celestin, senior lab manager, to create the face shields with materials such as mylar, elastic and foam. Celestin and his team are producing one per minute and hope over the next month to manufacture 10,000 face shields to be donated to TGH, USF’s primary teaching hospital and the USF Health faculty practice.

Additionally, more than 60 USF students and faculty members are helping the Florida Department of Health identify and find people considered “high-risk,” meaning someone who may have been in direct contact with an individual who tested positive for Covid-19. Most of the volunteers are from the College of Public Health and are dispersed statewide to help the health department.

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1 Comment

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    Carolyn Joyce

    May 2, 2020at10:54 pm

    As senior ćcompromised auto immune system, asthma etc etc.) Living in isolation I need mask(s). Where do i get this and needed runbing alcohol?? THE WALGREENS WALMART S DO NOT DISPENSE N IVE REQUESTED a script from my Tampa PCP. NO REPLY FOR PAST 48 DAYS is not acceptable

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