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Mayoral receptions canceled due to Covid

Mayor-elect Ken Welch has postponed two events following his inauguration after a spike in Covid cases due to the highly-transmissible Omicron variant. Welch announced Wednesday the Community Reception scheduled for 1 p.m. on Jan. 6 in Williams park immediately following his inauguration is no longer taking place on that date. The Mayoral and City Council Reception planned for Jan. 8 at the Dali Museum is also on hold. Makeup dates are not yet known. “Out of an abundance of caution, we will postpone these events till such time that we can safely celebrate together,” said Welch in a press release.

What you need to know about the current status of omicron cases

On Monday, it was reported that there have been over 500,000 new Covid-19 cases, which is drastically worse than any other single day of the entire pandemic. The omicron coronavirus variant, which has dominated the delta variant, has spiked by 35% for unvaccinated children nationwide in pediatric hospitalizations. Florida has seen an overall 127.8% increase in hospitalizations of children with Covid-19 week-over-week, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC on Monday cut the amount of time it recommends people should isolate after testing positive for Covid-19 as well as the quarantine period after coming into contact with someone who tests positive. The change “is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to the onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after," according to the CDC. However, many in the scientific community have debated on the guidance of decreasing the isolation period as Covid-19 cases continue to soar. The City of St. Petersburg tweeted a reminder that many Covid-19 testing sites remain open in the region. 

Hooters restaurant in Tyrone Square Mall will close

The Hooters restaurant in the Tyrone Square Mall in St. Pete will close this month. The closure is due to changes in shopping habits and the decline in mall foot traffic, according to a news release. “We had a great run in the Tyrone area since the restaurant opened its doors in 1987 and appreciate the support from our customers for so many years,” HMC Hospitality Group CEO Neil Kiefer said in a statement. 

Pinellas County announces career fair

Pinellas County Government has announced it is hosting a career fair on Tuesday, Jan. 18. The county will hold the career fair from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. in the St. Petersburg College Epicenter at 13805 58th St. N., in Clearwater. Career seekers can talk to hiring managers about current and future full-time positions, internships and volunteer opportunities. The county seeks to fill open positions in almost every department, and representatives from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and CareerSource Pinellas will also attend. Applicants are encouraged to bring copies of their resumes, and employers will offer onsite interviews for some positions. Veterans are encouraged to apply and bring their DD-214 or veteran’s preference documentation. For more information, visit here.

Christmas tree disposal options:

With the Christmas holiday officially over and the new year rapidly approaching, those looking to safely dispose of their old trees can now drop them off at the Pinellas County Department of Solid Waste. The Solid Waste facility is located at 3095 114th Ave. N. in St. Petersburg. The City of St. Petersburg is hosting a citywide Christmas tree collection event on Jan. 8. Residents must place the tree out for collection before 7 a.m. in the same spot their trash is collected. Additionally, residents can drop their trees off at one of the city’s Brush Sites. For more information, visit stpete.org/brushsites. Collected trees are recycled into mulch.

See the real-time progression for the $84M Imagine Clearwater project as it undergoes construction

Live-feed cameras have been set at the site of the $84 million development that reimagines the downtown waterfront park in Clearwater. The Imagine Clearwater project will transform the urban Coachman Park into a 24-acre urban waterfront park development for recreation and entertainment uses that would help attract residents and tourists to an underutilized part of downtown. The vision includes an outdoor performance bandshell and stage with covered seating for 4,000 people, play areas for children, shading and solar panels. The live video can be found here. 

Bucs win division for first time since 2007

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Carolina Panthers 32-6 in Charlotte Sunday to clinch the NFC South title for the first time since 2007. The win also guarantees the Bucs a spot in the playoffs. After being held scoreless by the New Orleans Saints at home last week, Tampa Bay’s offense dominated the Carolina defense despite not having Pro Bowl wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and running back Leonard Fournette due to injuries. Wide receiver Antonio Brown, active for the first time since Week 6, led the offense with 101 receiving yards on 10 catches. The decisive victory also gave the Bucs their first back-to-back 11-win seasons for the first time in franchise history.

American Stage announces its choices for 2022 new play festival

American Stage has announced the four unproduced works it will stage, in readers theater format, for its annual 21st Century Voices New Play Festival Jan. 7-9. Chosen from more than 300 submissions, they are: 

  • Saudades by Fernando Segall

  • Zu’s Earth by Sidney Rushing

  • Go Down Moses by Dana Leslie Goldstein

  • Brown Girl In The Ring by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj (American Stage producing artistic director)

Catalyst to close for the holiday; publishing resumes Monday

The St. Pete Catalyst will not publish Friday and Saturday, Dec. 24 and 25, because of the Christmas holiday. We will resume our regular schedule Monday, Dec. 27.

SPPD: Part of Bayshore closed to traffic Saturday

A reminder that the St. Petersburg Police Department plans to close a section of Bayshore Drive Saturday, Christmas Day (and again New Year's Day) to vehicular traffic due to the increased pedestrian volume around the Pier. The road will be closed 5-10 p.m. from Central Avenue to 5th Avenue N.E.

Rays co-owner forms SPAC, seeks sports business

Tampa Bay Rays co-owner Randy Frankel is part of a team that has formed a Special Purpose Acquisition Company, or SPAC, seeking to acquire a sports business - specifically, a European football club. According to a preliminary prospectus filed Tuesday through the Securities Exchange Commission, the SPAC, Counter Press Acquisition, seeks to raise $75 million through an initial public offering. Paul Conway, the SPAC’s CEO, is the co-founder of Pacific Media Group, a financier and distributor of movies such as Ad Astra and The Martian. Joining Frankel and Conway is LA Dodgers executive Andrew Friedman, who previously served as the Rays president of baseball operations. Friedman is well known for being at the forefront of using data analytics in MLB. Rounding out the group is Julie Uhrman, co-founder of the Angel City Football Club, an LA-based National Women’s Soccer League franchise that debuts in 2022.

Rent prices in Tampa Bay escalate to new record

The rent prices in Tampa Bay spiked by 24% in 2021--a new record, according to an analysis by commercial real estate data firm CoStar Group. The report includes data from Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties. Tampa Bay had the highest rent spike in the nation for markets with at least 100,000 apartments. 

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