UPDATE: St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, through a series of tweets, announced that the St. Petersburg Grand Prix has canceled general attendance. [Read more]
A racing event that draws about 150,000 people to St. Petersburg each year is going on as planned, despite two cases of COVID-19 in Pinellas County.
For the 16th year, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg racing event is back with its 1.8-mile, 14-turn circuit along the water, sparking concerns about the spread of coronavirus in a time when health officials are encouraging "social distancing."
Mayor Rick Kriseman said the event will continue as planned, but asks sick people to stay home.
"If you're not feeling well, do not come,” Kriseman said. “If you have any symptoms, do not come. If you've been around somebody who is sick, do not come. Watch it on television. Enjoy the race that way."
Amber Boulding, manager for the Office of Emergency Management with the city of St. Petersburg, said the city plan already includes a pandemic response for large events such as the Grand Prix.
This week it's been adapted to the coronavirus disease.
She said they have a strategy in place for if someone is symptomatic at the races.
"We're going to get a mask on them and try to separate them from the general population, first and foremost, and then they'll be assessed,” Boulding said.
“It’ll be a decision making between fire rescue, our county partners, and the Florida Department of Health as to if that person will be transported or what the next step is going to be.”
The city has also set up hand sanitizer stations around the event, and health officials are encouraging people to wash their hands frequently.
So far, 21 Floridians have been diagnosed with COVID-19, including a 64-year-old man and a 67-year-old man in Pinellas County. Both are self-isolating.
For more on the Grand Prix, including an event schedule, and map, click here.