Stories about the coronavirus pandemic are free to read as a public service at tampabay.com/coronavirus. Sign up for our DayStarter newsletter to receive updates weekday mornings. If this coverage is important to you, consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Tampa Bay Times at tampabay.com/subscribe.
• • •
As Hillsborough leaders bicker over stay-at-home orders and curfews, a regional advocacy group sent a letter to political leaders there and in Pinellas and Pasco counties Wednesday, urging them to avoid a piecemeal response to the coronavirus crisis.
The Tampa Bay Partnership, a 30-year-old organization, sent the letter to the chairpersons of the Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas county commissions and the mayors of Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Tampa, saying residents deserve “a clear and consistent policy to apply for all of Tampa Bay.”
Rick Homans, the group’s president and chief executive officer, urged the leaders of the three county commissions and mayors to convene a virtual meeting to find common ground and a unified, consistent approach.
Without regional communication, the risk is a haphazard, piecemeal response, he said.
“Number one is to begin talking to each other face to face. I think it’s important for the residents of Tampa Bay to see our leaders talking to each other in a collaborative way. It builds confidence that our leadership is engaged in a regional level,” Homans told the Tampa Bay Times.
His group doesn’t have a position in the Hillsborough fight between Mayor Jane Castor’s push for a citywide stay-at-home order and the county’s resistance to that step.
What’s already happened isn’t as important as what lies ahead as the region grapples with the coronavirus crisis, he said.
“Let’s move forward. We need to get ourselves better organized at a regional level to do better in the days ahead,” Homans said. “Let’s start start with the easy things to do. Build a relationship. A lot of those people don’t have a relationship.”
The counties and cities can share data, mobilize resources and communicate in a consistent language as a good first step, he said.
• • •
Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage
EVENT CANCELLATIONS: Get the latest updates on events planned in the Tampa Bay area in the coming weeks.
STORES REACT TO VIRUS: Some businesses adjust hours or announce temporary closings.
STOCK UP YOUR PANTRY: Foods that should always be in your kitchen, for emergencies and everyday life.
JOIN THE FACEBOOK GROUP: See updates and tips posts, and ask questions of our journalists.
LISTEN TO THE CORONAVIRUS PODCAST: New episodes every week, including interviews with experts and reporters
HAVE A TIP?: Send us confidential news tips.
We’re working hard to bring you the latest news on the coronavirus in Florida. This effort takes a lot of resources to gather and update. If you haven’t already subscribed, please consider buying a print or digital subscription.