ST. PETERSBURG — With the rate of postive COVID-19 cases going up in Florida, Mayor Rick Kriseman had some choice words for people 25-34 years old.
That age group is seeing an increase of cases of the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“All of you millennials who thought you were immune to this virus … you were wrong," the mayor said Tuesday. "And it’s time that your generation started taking this more seriously.”
He added: “Your death rate may not be as high as someone who’s 75 years old, but you could infect someone who’s 75 years old.”
Kriseman’s comments came during his regular Facebook Live update on St. Petersburg’s COVID-19 picture, his first since before the protests against racism and police brutality, ignited by the death of George Floyd, broke out May 30.
The mayor urged residents to continue social distancing and wearing masks — the city is in the process of giving away 10,000 masks for free. He also implored businesses to require employees who face customers to wear masks, and to continue to allow remote work when possible.
“Folks, we can’t afford to go backwards," he said. "We can’t afford the economic hit, we can’t afford the impact emotionally. We need to tighten up.”
During a question and answer period, Kriseman said he thinks cases are on the rise because bars and restaurants have opened under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ latest orders, and because testing is up. He said it’s too early to tell what effect the protests may have on cases.
“But I do have concerns," he said. "When we’ve seen the protesters, what we haven’t seen is social distancing, and we haven’t seen everyone wearing masks.”
He said that he hasn’t taken off the table implementing a city-wide mask requirement, or slowing the city’s reopening.
“If we believe that’s something that we need to do to make sure that we don’t see a surge, that we don’t have a challenge in our hospitals as far as beds or ICUs, and that we don’t have community spread, then that’s something that we’ll do," he said. "But it’s not going to be based on politics, it’s going to be based on data.”
• • •
Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage
GET THE DAYSTARTER MORNING UPDATE: Sign up to receive the most up-to-date information.
SO YOU WANT TO LEAVE YOUR HOUSE? Read these 10 tips first
UNEMPLOYMENT Q&A: We answer your questions about Florida unemployment benefits
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.