Clearwater’s new city manager tests positive for COVID

Jon Jennings, who is vaccinated and boosted, will quarantine the rest of this week.
City Manager Jon Jennings said his COVID symptoms are similar to bronchitis.
City Manager Jon Jennings said his COVID symptoms are similar to bronchitis. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Jan. 13, 2022|Updated Jan. 13, 2022

Clearwater’s new city manager has tested positive for COVID-19, he announced to staff on Tuesday evening.

City Manager Jon Jennings said in an email that he began feeling ill “and not myself” so he took a COVID test on Tuesday, which came back positive. He said his symptoms are similar to bronchitis.

“I’m surprised I tested positive because I’ve been so careful, but omicron appears to be highly contagious even though I’m fully vaccinated with the booster,” Jennings said on Thursday in a text message to the Tampa Bay Times. “We are going to have to learn to live with COVID.”

Jennings will quarantine for the remainder of this week and will return to the office next week if he is symptom-free, according to his email. Assistant City Manager Micah Maxwell will fill in while Jennings is out.

Jennings most recently worked as city manager of Portland, Maine, and took over in Clearwater on Nov. 8, following the 20-year tenure of former City Manager Bill Horne.

Since his administration began, Jennings has prioritized eliminating the city’s backlog of more than 200 sidewalk repairs. He has ramped up environmental efforts by creating an innovation and energy manager position.

He has also advanced discussions with Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige regarding downtown redevelopment. In an in-person meeting on Nov. 29 and subsequent phone calls, Jennings has been negotiating a potential deal for the church to redevelop portions of property it controls downtown. Any deal will require City Council approval.

There have been 520 cases of COVID-19 among the city’s approximately 1,800 employees since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data on the city’s website. All but 37 of the 520 employees have recovered and been symptom-free long enough to return to work, according to the website.