In a busy news week, three positive developments worth highlighting — and one head-scratching crime — from around the Tampa Bay area.
Face masks not just for football players. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor made some sensible upgrades to the city’s mask policies, given the ongoing pandemic and the influx of people expected for Super Bowl 55. With a few exceptions, the move requires masks be worn outdoors in most of the city’s popular destinations, including downtown, the Riverwalk, Armature Works and Ybor City until Feb. 13. As is often the case, the new requirements sparked some confusion, but the mayor is sending the right message: Have a good time, but do it safely. No one should help turn Super Bowl festivities into super spreader events.
A new whale? The Gulf of Mexico Bryde’s whale (pronounced broo-dus) may be not be a Bryde’s whale after all. It’s looking like its own species, according to ongoing research that included studying the skeleton of a whale that was washed up in South Florida and buried at Fort De Soto Park in Pinellas County. The leviathans can reach 60,000 pounds and 42 feet long and mostly live in the northern gulf down to about Sarasota. How fascinating that a whale studied for decades might not be the whale scientists thought it was.
Trop site makeover. The St. Petersburg mayor’s office released proposals from the seven development groups competing to lead the multi-billion dollar makeover of the Tropicana Field site. While construction won’t be finished for years, the proposals provide a first look at what the final product could look like, both with and without a stadium. The renderings tickle the imagination, transforming an 86-acre site with an aging domed stadium and too much surface parking into a vibrant neighborhood to be envied by any similar-size city. Getting from concept to completion will be a long and complicated haul, but the proposals finally provide a visual roadmap for where the site could be headed.
Vaccine capers. A big Bronx cheer to the Polk County Fire Rescue captain accused of stealing three doses of coronavirus vaccine and the paramedic who should have reported the theft. According to sheriff’s reports, fire rescue captain Anthony Brian Damiano, 55, tampered with vaccines meant for other first responders so that his mother could be vaccinated. Decorated paramedic Joshua Colon, 31, discovered what happened, and instead of speaking up, he falsified paperwork that suggested the vaccines had been given to first responders, the reports state. Damiano’s mom told investigators that she didn’t get the vaccine. Two careers ruined over three vaccine doses. What a waste.
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