Pinellas County officials urge continued coronavirus precautions as Florida cases exceed 1M

Coronavirus

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida officially surpassed a total of one million coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic on Tuesday, now officials in one Tampa Bay area county are urging their residents to continue taking precautions to avoid being exposed.

“I think it’s terrible. I think people really do need to be more careful,” said Pinellas County resident Ginger McGinn in reaction to the state surpassing the 1-million case mark. “It’s very disturbing, concerning really,” said Pinellas County resident Tricia Kling.

Screenshot from the FL COVID-19 Dashboard Tuesday.

A long line of people waiting to get tested formed at Tropicana Field in St. Pete on Tuesday morning. Within 15 minutes of opening, county officials sent an alert directing people to other locations.

There are many other Pinellas County COVID testing sites available, including Ruth Eckerd Hall. Starting this week, the testing site there is expanding drive through testing from three to five days a week, Monday-Friday 7 am-10 am, to keep up with the growing demand for testing during the holidays.

“I think we’re going to continue to see spread in the community, continue to see people being exposed and people wanting to be tested,” said Baycare Chief Medical Officer, Jackie Cawley.

“Definitely there’s an increase and definitely the same message we’re trying to get out there is do the same 3 things: mask up, distance up and wash up,” said FL Dept. of Health spokeswoman for Pinellas County, Maggie Hall.

Hall also urges everyone to be extremely mindful of holiday gatherings, keeping groups small and staying outdoors when at all possible.

County leaders said Pinellas is the most densely populated county in Florida but is doing better than many others because of the precautions in place.

“One of the big reasons for that is we do have the mask ordinance and mostly, generally, people are following it,” Pinellas County Marketing and Communications spokesman Dave Connor said. “If we can continue to do that and more, we can continue to not be in the worst-case scenario.”

As of Tuesday, 17% of ICU hospital beds were available and 23% of regular hospital beds were available, according to the Pinellas County COVID-19 Dashboard.

For a full breakdown of the percentage of hospitals are at what capacity go to the Agency for Health Care Administration website.

Hillsborough County offers a complete list of testing locations on its website. Pinellas County also has a number of options for free testing locations.

“For Thanksgiving, we canceled our plans to go away because of [Coronavirus]. I think if everyone bides their time for the next couple of months I think we’ll be good,” said McGinn.

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