Kriseman criticizes state’s response to virus as St. Pete positivity rate drops under 5%

Coronavirus

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman addressed a falling percent positivity rate in his city along with a new antibody testing site Wednesday.

The mayor began by announcing a 4.5% rolling positivity rate among new cases of the virus in St. Pete. It has been the city’s goal to get below 5%.

“We’re the most densely populated county in the state of Florida and we have a 2 week rolling average of 4.5%…so everyone ought to be looking at how we’re doing this,” Mayor Kriseman said.

Kriseman announced 7,754 people in St. Petersburg have tested positive for the virus overall, a little less than 3% of the city’s total population. Six hundred have died in Pinellas County. He said as of now there is no ICU bed shortage concern.

“I’m really proud of our residents, I’m proud of our businesses,” the mayor said. “I think Pinellas County has really been leading the way in Florida. And quite frankly, the rest of the state should be taking a look at what we’re doing…”

Kriseman noted that, for being the most densely populated city in Florida, St. Pete has handled the pandemic better than the state itself.

“The response of the state I think has been disappointing,” he said. “A bit tone-deaf and doesn’t seem to be really paying attention to what’s happening at the local level in a lot of communities.”

“As a family, we decided my son would attend online,” Mayor Kriseman said.

“I would have been afraid to go back,” said Lisa Regan who used to be a school teacher. She hopes increased testing will add peace of mind.

“People need to find out if they had Coronavirus because maybe it will make it easier to carry on in life and not be terrified all the time that you’re going to be ill,” Regan said.

“If we get complacent and too comfortable thinking we’re under 5% now we can relax…we can’t. We can take our foot off the gas yet. Not until there’s a vaccine,” Mayor Kriseman said.

One of the important tools to containing the spread of the coronavirus, Kriseman said, has been mass testing.

“We believe that mass testing really helps us understand just how prevalent the virus may be in our city and here in our county,” he said.

Starting Wednesday, St. Pete residents will be able to receive free antibody testing at the county’s drive-up testing site outside the Duke Energy for the Arts Mahaffey Theater. There is no appointment necessary, and you can get a COVID-19 swab test the same day.

Antibody testing is available Tuesday through Friday from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. as long as supplies last. Only 200 antibody tests will be administered per day.

You can fill out your paperwork ahead of time on the county’s COVID-19 webpage.

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