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St. Petersburg To Lift Emergency Declaration On Own Timeline

City of St. Petersburg

While some models say Florida and St. Petersburg may have passed the peak rate of coronavirus infections, that doesn’t mean people should be throwing house parties anytime soon.

In his weekly COVID-19 update, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said Tuesday the city will not be lifting social distancing orders without a serious review.

Florida’s emergency declaration is set to expire April 30, unless it's extended by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

But Kriseman said his city will reopen on its own timeline.

"It's going to be important to see what the state's order looks like and what restrictions they lift before making any kind of decisions related to what St. Petersburg is going to do going forward,” said Kriseman.

Part of Kriseman’s reasoning for the need to act independently comes from a recognition of the city’s unique profile.

Ten percent of those tested for the coronavirus in the state are confirmed to have the coronavirus. In St. Petersburg, that number has fluctuated between four and six percent, but the mayor noted that there has not been enough “granular data” from the state on how many St. Petersburg residents have been tested.

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF and Health News Florida

The decision to lift “safer-at-home” orders will be made in consultation with a city advisory group comprised of representatives from the medical and small business community. It will also include Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, a former executive at Bayfront Health.

Kriseman said the decision to re-open the city depends on the data.

To date, the Florida Department of Health says there are more than 600 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Pinellas County – a jump of more than 100 in the past week. The city of St. Petersburg accounts for 130 of the confirmed cases in the county.

The mayor praised area residents for following the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention social distancing guidelines, stating that despite having reached the peak of infection local hospitals have been able to provide beds and ventilators for all patients needing care.

But the city has faced problems with residents failing to adhere to distancing orders, as people cluster in parks and continue to have open their homes to guests.

“Orders and guidelines extend to private parties in home or back yard,” said Kriseman. “Just because it’s in your home doesn’t mean you can invite 50 of your friends over for a weekend party or backyard barbeque.”

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