St. Petersburg preparing for Grand Prix amid coronavirus concerns

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – The City of St. Petersburg is preparing to host its largest event since the announcement of coronavirus in the Tampa Bay Area. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is scheduled for March 13 through 15.

8 On Your Side reached out to the event organizers, Greene Savoree Racing, to see what prevention actions they are taking since some drivers are planning on flying in internationally for the race.

They sent us the following statement:

“We are actively monitoring the situation and working closely with public health officials to ensure the well-being of our spectators and event participants. We don’t expect any disruptions to the INDYCAR schedule, including next week’s race in St. Petersburg and the Month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

We reached out to the City of St. Petersburg to see how they were preparing and they referred us to the County Health Department who is taking the lead on the issue. The Department of Health in Pinellas County followed-up with us on Thursday and said at this time they are taking their lead from the state and are not advising any event cancelations. They advise if you go to the Grand Prix and are around someone who is sick, take personal precautions and move away from that person. They advise everyone to take the same personal precautions you would take to avoid the flu.

Many who live downtown have Grand Prix parties every year say they are concerned. “Maybe we won’t have a party this year,” said Tonya Kimberley. “But we live in a condo, we can’t get crazy about it and not live life, live in fear.”

We spoke with medical professionals Wednesday about ways to protect yourself if you’re going to be in a big crowd of people at the race or any other event.

“You can’t stop living your life, life is too short,” said Dean of the College of Nursing at St. Petersburg College, DNP, RN Louisana Louis. “We just ask people to be careful. Because whenever you’re at a large event like that with so many people around, there’s always risk.”

In Louis’s opinion, everyone should take precautions but no one should cancel plans for this more than you would if you were concerned about catching the flu or a common cold.

Louis recommended the following precautions to stay healthy at the race:

  • Washing your hands is by far the best way to stay safe. When washing your hand, wash for 30 seconds or more with a focus on friction. (Tip: It’s the equivalent of singing the “Happy Birthday” song)
  • Bring Clorox Wipes and wipe down any handles before touching them.
  • Avoid touching your face as it is the main entrance for the virus into your body.
  • If you’re sick, wear a mask to protect those around you. You do not need to wear a mask if you’re healthy.
  • When using hand sanitizer, make sure you’re doing it the right way. They say that means to cover your hands from your fingernails to your wrists, work the solution in between your fingers and into your fingernails and don’t forget to apply the solution to the backs of your hands. Continue rubbing your hands together until the solution is completely dry and dissolved.

The SPC Academic Chair, DNP, ARNP, PPCNP-BC, CPNP-AC Amanda Daniels said when washing your hands, you should make sure to rinse the soap off with your fingers facing down so that all the germs run off your hands.

The Naples Soap Company downtown St.Petersburg is in the business of hand hygiene. “This is a sea salt scrub, all-natural and organic, shay butter, cocoa butter, almond butter,” said Tammy Wingate as she showed off products. They are prepared for Grand Prix goers to stop by their shop for free hand-washing samples on race day. “We have the sticks here [to use for samples] to make sure everyone is really safe.”

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