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Update: Valspar Championship is off

The PGA Tour cancelled the Valspar Championship, set to take place next week at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor. The decision to cancel the event came late Thursday and changed an earlier decision that the event would be played but without spectators. The Valspar Championship is one of four events, including The Players Championship, that has been cancelled, organizers posted on the event's website. "We did everything possible to create a safe environment for our players in order to continue the event throughout the weekend, and we were endeavoring to give our fans a much-needed respite from the current climate. But at this point – and as the situation continues to rapidly change – the right thing to do for our players and our fans is to pause," the PGA Tour said in a website post.

Eckerd College moves to remote classes, closes dorms

Eckerd College in St. Petersburg has joined the list of schools halting in-person classroom instruction, at least for now. The school is extending its spring break, which starts March 16, by one week, and will resume classes via remote delivery on March 30, an online announcement said. Students must leave campus no later than noon, March 18, and Eckerd said there is a chance the residence halls could be closed for the rest of the semester. The college said it will will communicate future plans on March 30.

MacDill postpones AirFest

MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa has postponed its annual AirFest event. This year's event was scheduled for March 28-March 29. "Unfortunately, to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and preserve the ability of our service members to meet any and all national defense taskings, we are postponing the 2020 Tampa AirFest until further notice," MacDill posted on Twitter. "This decision was not an easy one, however we are following Department of Defense and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention risk-based guidance." MacDill said there are no current plans to cancel other base events at this time, but it will assess the risk for each gathering. 

Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL season ‘on pause’

The National Hockey League will pause the 2019-20 regular season due to the concerns of the coronavirus, the league said Thursday.  The decision impacts the Tampa Bay Lightning, which was scheduled to open a three-game homestand tonight at Amalie Arena. The league said its goal is to resume games as soon as possible.

 

Museum of Fine Arts cancels events through March 31

The Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg has canceled all public events through March 31, including performances, talks and demonstrations connected to the ongoing Art of the Stage exhibit. Tickets purchased for any event will be refunded. “At this time, the museum galleries remain open, and we continue to practice expanded cleaning and disinfecting of common public spaces, high-touch areas and restrooms,” museum administration said. “We are asking visitors if  they have any cold or flu-like symptoms, for the safety of our staff and other visitors, please remain at home and visit us when they are feeling better.”

Florida Sen. Scott to self-quarantine

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida, will self-quarantine after a meeting in Miami Monday with the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro. Scott said his office was alerted Thursday by the Brazilian Embassy that a member of Bolsonaro’s delegation tested positive for coronavirus. "While I do not believe I interacted with the infected person, that individual was in the same room as me," Scott wrote in a news release. "After consulting with the Senate’s attending physician and my personal doctor, I have been told that my risk is low, and I don’t need to take a test or quarantine. However, the health and safety of the American people is my focus and I have made the decision to self-quarantine in an abundance of caution. I am feeling healthy and not experiencing any symptoms at this time." Scott cancelled a news conference at which he planned to announce legislation to expand access to coronavirus testing. He said he will continue working on that plan.

DeSantis recommends limiting, postponing mass gatherings in Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is strongly recommending local municipalities and private entities consider postponing or limiting mass gatherings in the state, as part of an effort to increase social distancing in light of the coronavirus outbreak. He does not have the authority to order they be cancelled, he said during a Thursday morning news conference, but added, "If a mass gathering is not cancelled, you need to have organized screening measures in place. For example, before entering an attendee should be asked if they are sick or if they have been in contact...with places that have seen outbreaks such as the cruise ship terminals." DeSantis also suspended all official travel for the state's 90,000 employees for at least 30 days. He directed state agencies to maximize remote working and telecommuting. 

FAST cancels Rally in St. Petersburg due to COVID-19

Faith and Action for Strength Together (FAST) a Pinellas County faith-based direct action organizing group, announced the cancellation of its annual Rally through a Facebook post Thursday afternoon. Previously scheduled for tonight at 7:00pm at First Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, FAST cancelled the event due to coronavirus concerns.  FAST organizers also noted that the board will discuss contingency plans for the annual Nehemiah Action scheduled to take place March 30. 

Tampa Bay Rowdies games on hold

The United Soccer League said it will suspend the 2020 season for a minimum of 30 days. The Tampa Bay Rowdies, who play their home games at Al Lang Stadium in downtown St. Petersburg, are part of the USL. “It was very clear from our owners that the health and safety of players, fans and staff was their top priority,” Alec Papadakis, CEO of the USL, said in a statement. “In consultation with local, state and national health authorities, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security, we have temporarily suspended match play for a minimum of 30 days.” The league said it would provide additional updates on the continuation of the 2020 season "when appropriate."

Crist pens letter to CDC: “Let people get tested”

U.S. Representative Charlie Crist sent a letter the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield, calling for the CDC to initiate COVID-19 resting protocols throughout the country, including drive-thru testing, allowing medical providers discretion regarding testing, and using every lab available to verify results. “Floridians are seeing efficient, effective coronavirus tests around the world, while Americans experiencing symptoms cannot get tested here at home," Crist said in a statement. "Tom Hanks was diagnosed with coronavirus in Australia where testing is free and widely available. He would not have met CDC criteria for a test in America. It’s outrageous." “Every day we get this wrong is a day that Americans are less safe. Let’s get it right. Let people get tested.” According to the statement, the United States ranks among the worst in the world for per capita testing rates. The current testing rate sits at under 100 tests per one million people. Crist recently sent letters to the CDC pressing for increased transparency, the Florida Surgeon General asking him to share more information on possible cases in Florida, President Trump calling him to appoint a Coronavirus Czar and Food and Drug Administration and CDC to work to improve, expand, and expedite coronavirus testing. The full letter to Director Redfield can be found here.

Valspar Championship closed to spectators

The PGA Tour says next week's Valspar Championship at Innisbrook will be played, but without spectators. PGA Commissioner Jay Monihan said he made the decision after speaking to President Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis. "At this point in time, PGA TOUR events – across all Tours – will currently proceed as scheduled, but will do so without fans," a statement from Monihan said. He said the decision could change but he was making the announcement now to allow fans to prepare. The Valspar Championship is scheduled from March 16 to March 22.

   

Primo Water shifts to webcast only analyst day

Primo Water Corp. (NYSE: PRMW; TSX: PRMW), a Tampa water company, is among a growing number of firms cancelling in-person meetings. Primo, formerly known as Cott Corp., said its upcoming investor and analyst day on March 24 will be webcast only. "Due to increasingly restrictive travel and group event guidelines put in place as a precaution relating to COVID-19, the live component of the event will no longer be held in New York City," Primo said in a news release.

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