As COVID-19 cases spike among young residents, St. Pete begins giving out free masks

Photo of a person in front of a large tree wearing a blue and white face mask and sunglasses
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As COVID-19 numbers begin to spike in the state of Florida, officials are looking for ways to remind residents to exercise precautions when heading out into public spaces. Residents are encouraged to keep a safe social distance from others, vigilantly wash their wands, and of course wear a mask.

New data out of Pinellas County shows that a majority of confirmed COVID-19 cases are occurring in the 25-35 age demographic. A full breakdown of COVID-19 cases in the county can be seen here.

City officials are now looking to remove a barrier to safety by providing free face coverings to residents. The city announced on June 9 several locations for residents to visit to pick up their free St. Pete-branded face mask.

Pickup locations: 

Azalea Recreation Center: 1600 72nd St. N. 
Boyd Hill Nature Preserve: 1101 Country Club Way South
Imagine Museum: 1901 Central Avenue
PSTA Stations: Grand Central and Williams Park
USF St. Pete: 200 6th Avenue South
Fossil Park Fire Station: 875 64th Avenue North
People Empowering  & Restoring Communities: 1601 16th Street South

As of Monday, June 8, there were 1,638 confirmed cases in Pinellas County of 54,350 tested with 418 hospitalizations and 140 pending cases.

Florida joins 13 other states and Puerto Rico in reporting their highest-ever seven-day average of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, according to a report in The Washington Post.

With Florida entering Phase II of reopening, and restrictions on bars, restaurants and gyms relaxing, it’s important to remind residents that the pandemic hasn’t gone away. A mask, of course, is more of a courtesy for those around you. The mask helps fight the spread of, and exposure to new germs.

A graphic chart showing the rate of COVID-19 infections

While no city mandate has been set, many small businesses are suggesting/encouraging residents to wear them during their visits. It’s important to note that younger demographics are at risk too. Infection has lead to hospitalization and sometimes trips to intensive care.

For example, a CDC report from mid-March shows that of 508 people who were hospitalized for COVID-19 in the U.S., 38% were between 20 and 54 years old. Half of the cases ended up in intensive care were younger than 65.

“The data is starting to become alarming – and if we don’t offer some personal responsibility  – we may truly devastate our home,” Chris Steinocher, President and CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, wrote to I Love the Burg in an email. ” I hear everyone always telling me  – we love St Pete so much…that’s what we need to build from – a shared and declared love for each other.”

For Steinocher and many other officials in St. Pete, now is the time for businesses and residents to step up and show how much they care about this city. That begins with wearing a mask.

Steinocher outlined several key points as to why we should put on a mask:

  • Your favorite local business owner who so desperately needs to stay open and will lose everything if we isolate again.
  • The African American community who suffer from COVID-19 at disproportionate rates
  • Your parents and grandparents – it’s the older demographics that are more likely to die from COVID-19
  • Those you live with in your home – it’s one of the most common places people contract it.

Do you plan to wear a mask when going out?

There are plenty of alternative avenues to getting a mask. Local makers are designing artsy masks and are available for purchase on the Tampa Bay Online Market.

We also made our own masks in partnership with local Jeremy Shapiro. You can get a 10% discount with code Burg10.

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Written by Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan is the Editor of ilovetheburg.com. Follow him on Twitter @harlanyoungII and Instagram @harlanyoung. Send tips and potential stories to info@ilovetheburg.com.