Stay-at-home vs. curfew: Tampa mayor, county officials clash over lockdown

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As millions of Americans are being asked to stay at home to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, people in Tampa are still awaiting word on whether to shelter in place.

Tampa mayor Jane Castor said she was ready to issue a stay-at-home order that would go into effect at midnight.

“The city of Tampa is very very densely populated and that’s why I am going to do everything in my power and take every step necessary to protect our citizens,” Castor said on Tuesday.

But Hillsborough County officials invalidated the mayor’s decision hours later by issuing an order of their own, saying no portion of the county should be ordered to shelter in place until they say so.

“I am confirming… no Stay-at-Home order shall be applicable in any portion of Hillsborough County until further direction by the Emergency Policy Group,” said County Administrator Mike Merrill.

Commissioners voted 6-to-2 to further study a stay-at-home/shelter-in-place order as well as a possible curfew for county residents, and to table the issues until a Thursday meeting. The next policy meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Castor has since doubled down. Her office says she will likely issue the order Wednesday morning. It will go into effect at midnight Thursday.

“We were all elected to do the right thing, to stand up and do the right thing, and this is the right thing to do,” Castor said. “The more we kick this issue down the road, the more people are going to die in our community.”

More than 1,400 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Florida. As of Wednesday morning, Hillsborough County has 91 cases, the third-highest in the state.

There are currently 55,225 confirmed cases in the United States and 435,006 in the world. More than 800 people have died of the virus in the United States. The global death toll stands at 19,625.

BayCare launched their drive-thru testing services last Wednesday, but later changed its hours and shut down several locations to preserve kits. There is now a drive-thru site at Raymond James Stadium available to residents who have been pre-screened, pre-registered and meet testing guidelines set by the CDC and Florida Dept. of Health.

For more information on the coronavirus, click here.

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