TAMPA — It’s hard to miss the big yellow buttons around Old City Hall and the Municipal Office building. Mayor Jane Castor’s staff has been wearing them for months.
Since July 30, the buttons and yellow wristbands are the only way the city’s 4,400 or so workers are allowed to go mask-free while on the job.
The city’s order requires city employees to prove their vaccination status to Human Resources before they get their buttons and wristbands. The city isn’t mandating vaccinations, but it is requiring employees that aren’t vaccinated to wear masks when inside a city vehicle with another person, moving through common space in office settings and when social distancing isn’t possible.
So far, Castor said, the reaction has been positive from city employees with high levels of compliance. And, she said, the city’s three main unions representing firefighters, police officers and mostly blue-collar city workers are on board.
The mayor’s order came days after the Center for Disease Control recommended that even vaccinated people should wear masks indoors due to the possibility of transmission of the virus through those who have already had their shots.
The mayor had a hand in the bright design.
“I told the team: Listen, we need to make a button, make it obnoxious, you know, real bright,” Castor said.
Although she didn’t have data available Wednesday afternoon in an interview, Castor said quarantines and infection rates of city workers are trending downward.
As her city and county struggle to contain the latest surge in the coronavirus pandemic, she’s continuing to push the message for city residents to get vaccinated.
“I tell everybody that the only place you can’t get a vaccination is once you’re in the hospital with COVID,” Castor said.