County Leaders Meet For Next Move In Coronavirus Crisis
Leaders from Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties were joined by their counterparts from the cities of Tampa and Clearwater at a virtual meeting to address COVID-19 efforts on Tuesday.
The main goal was to open a line of dialogue between regional leaders in order to help each other through the quarantine, said Pasco Board of County Commissioners Chairman Mike Moore.
In the nearly hour-long call, Moore led the discussion of a variety of issues that different communities are currently facing, or may face in the near future.
“We’re all in this together,” Moore said. “What happens to one county, or city, potentially could impact all the others.”
Like most conversations these days, coronavirus test kits were a main topic.
Pasco County received 300 kits as of Saturday, according to Moore. He said that while this is a good number for right now, they will need more in the future.
Hillsborough County received approximately 1,000 test kits Saturday and about 100 more on Monday.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said, in addition to not having enough test kits, collecting them is also an issue.
“This is a problem that is nationwide,” she said. “There is just a huge shortage of the testing swabs and the PPEs (personal protective equipment kit). But we can go at it together. There’s always strength in numbers.”
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The group also spoke about how each county had businesses that are converting their operations to address the need for kits and personal protective equipment, like masks and gowns for medical professionals.
Local breweries have also begun making hand sanitizer, Castor pointed out, while the University of South Florida has started constructing face shields using 3-D printers. However, she said, these organizations aren’t able to turn out large quantities right now.
Moore said that if any county begins to face a need for supplies, other counties should step up.
“If we have a shortage in Pasco County, obviously, if there’s any excess supplies in another area, we’d want to be able to work together and then likewise for another county,” he said.
The leaders also discussed the issue of garbage, agreeing that communities should be ready to help each other out if they’re experiencing issues.
“With so many people working from home, we’re going to start obviously seeing the amount of solid waste increase dramatically,” said Moore. “One of the concerns I talked to with our folks was possibly not having enough staff. The last thing we want to see anywhere is trash sitting on the side of the road.”
The meeting also covered plans for what will happen after the pandemic is over.
Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard said his city’s chamber of commerce is putting together a task force for helping with recovery, using people from different industries, as well as Washington lobbyists.
“I just want to be the clearinghouse for helping all of our businesses,” Hibbard said. “We’re preparing for the soil to be fertile once people go back to work.”
Moore wants the group to meet again and keep communicating about issues they’re facing.
“What’s happening today could be a lot different than what’s happening tomorrow,” he said.WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online at WUSF.org/give.