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We’re all doing our part, and it’s working. Now keep going | Editorial
We need to celebrate improving numbers, but don't back off.
Visitors to the new 26 acre St. Petersburg Pier District are reminded to stay 6 feet apart, July 6. 2020 because of the coronavirus.
Visitors to the new 26 acre St. Petersburg Pier District are reminded to stay 6 feet apart, July 6. 2020 because of the coronavirus. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Aug. 13, 2020

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has taken to tweeting semi-regular updates about the rate of positive COVID-19 tests in Pinellas County. Some of them read like inspirational signs you might find in your boss’ office:

“We’re making progress.”

Let’s keep it up!”

“We’ll get through this together.”

The mayor’s approach is dead on — celebrate the improving numbers, including hospitalizations and weekly deaths, but don’t back off. This is not a sprint. Beating COVID-19 takes a collective and sustained approach. Residents deserve credit for the work they have done to drive the numbers down, including following the area’s mandatory mask order and social distancing. Now we all need to remain vigilant.

Florida has gone seven days without exceeding the peak in the average number of coronavirus deaths set the week ending Aug. 5. The number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have also decreased for roughly the last three weeks. But the numbers still remain too high. This is not the time for complacency. Success — and that means the numbers going way down — is by no means assured. That’s why we need to continue wearing masks and making good choices.

Fortunately, recent surveys show most Floridians have a realistic view of the pandemic and are willing to do what they must to help quell it. A statewide survey of 600 Floridians conducted by University of South Florida researchers showed that 55 percent of Floridians disagreed that the worst of the pandemic was behind us. Eighty-two percent said they thought prevention guidelines offered by public health officials were effective in slowing the virus’ spread. And 87 percent said they would support a statewide mask mandate.

Floridians are still in this fight. We can all make a difference, by following best practices, using common sense and taking personal responsibility. If we can remember that going forward, we should stay on top of the numbers.

Yes, we can!

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.