‘We are in a crisis once again’: Mayor Jane Castor urges residents to get vaccinated as COVID cases continue to spike


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tampa Mayor Jane Castor held a news briefing Friday to discuss the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

“We are in a crisis once again with the spread of COVID-19 and the way out of this crisis is to get a vaccination,” said Mayor Jane Castor.

The event took place at Lykes Gaslight Park at 1:30 p.m. The mayor was joined by COVID-19 survivors and local health experts from Tampa Bay area hospitals.

“I could only equate what I went through as hell on earth,” said Nick Hansen, a father of five. “I have no preexisting conditions, I went to the doctor every year, I consider myself pretty healthy and if it can do that to me, it can do that to anybody.”

Right now, the current positivity rate in Hillsborough is 20%. One in five tested are infected. Overall, less than half of the county has received both shots of the vaccine.

In Hillsborough County schools, masks are recommended but not required.

“We believe this is a decision for the parent to make just given the uncertainty about what it means particularly for a lot of the young kids to be in that,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis at a news conference in Pinellas County Wednesday.

Across Florida, some local officials are defying Gov. DeSantis, claiming his anti-mandate strategy is wrong.  At least two school districts are mandating masks.

Mayor Castor told 8 On Your Side she applauds the governor’s initial response to the pandemic.

8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi asked what specific action she would like to take that she can’t due to state restrictions.

“We need to look to local leaders to have the ability to have the power to make the decisions that are in the best interest of their residents,” said Mayor Castor.

“What do you need to do that you cannot do because of the governor?” asked Saeidi.

“Well, I don’t want to get into a back and forth. The governor makes decisions in the best interest of the state and I’d like to be able to make decisions in the best interest of our community,” Castor said.

The mayor wants more local control but she didn’t outline just what she would like to do with that control.

Meantime, the governor’s office tells 8 On Your Side that changes have been made to bring in more nurses to Tampa Bay facilities.

We’re looking into those changes and will have more soon.

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