While he’s proud of where St. Petersburg stands when compared to other cities in terms of managing Covid-19, Mayor Rick Kriseman said there’s still a lot of work to do to bring the numbers down.
That’s where the city’s new Race to Safe campaign comes in. The educational campaign, which Kriseman introduced at a press conference Monday morning, is aimed at making St. Pete and Pinellas County Florida’s most Covid-safe community, and encourages residents to step up and do their part, especially as the holidays approach.
“It’s going to take everyone in the community to be involved in helping us win this race,” he said. “Instead of just asking people to do the right thing, we want to challenge them to take part in this race and let their competitive spirit come out.”
Residents can visit the Race to Safe website to track positivity rates and see how the area’s numbers look relative to nine other counties statewide. They can also download posters and fliers, find verbiage to share on social media and connect to local resources such as Covid testing sites and financial assistance. While the information itself isn’t new – and there are no current plans to change existing ordinances or enact more restrictions – presenting it in a different way will give citizens an opportunity to re-commit to following safety protocols like social distancing, mask wearing and not attending or hosting crowded events.
“We saw it early when Covid first started that Pinellas County can be the lowest in the state,” Kriseman said. “We think we can do it again and outshine everyone else.”
Pinellas County’s current two-week rolling average stands at 5.85 percent and is the lowest of the state’s 10 most populated counties. Five percent is the number that some public health officials say should be a threshold for imposing restrictions, though state and federal reopening guidelines cite that number at 10 percent.
While bringing the number below 5 percent is one of the goals of the campaign, Kriseman said the ultimate measure of the campaign’s success will be to have the lowest two-week rolling average over the next two to three weeks. City officials will be tracking the numbers in the coming weeks to determine if the new messaging is having an impact. Should they remain above five percent, Kriseman said he’ll have a conversation with County Administrator Barry Burton about the next steps.
For now, thought, he remains hopeful that residents and business owners will step up and stay the course a little longer.
“This isn’t about politics. It isn’t about posturing. It’s about public health and saving lives,” Kriseman said. “We’ve lost nearly a thousand of our neighbors to Covid. Let’s honor these people by doing the right thing.”