Pinellas County Commissioners respond to resident claiming to know 5 people notified of positive COVID-19 test without having taken the test.By Andrea Alvarez

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – The Pinellas County Board of Commissioners extended the Local State of Emergency Thursday morning through August 28, 2020 – after carefully weighing public opinion and listening to the latest medical advice from local physicians.

“Our numbers are looking good. We’re down below 5 percent. We’ve consistently been there for a seven day average, however, we know that continuing these efforts keeps us safer,” said Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton.

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“We’ve gotten an awful lot of calls and emails today about removing the mandate. Personally, I think we have to wait and see what happens when the schools open,” said Pat Gerard, Pinellas County Commission Chair.

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The extension keeps the county ordinance in force requiring citizens to wear face coverings and social distance in public places. Board members agreed that with schools reopening and flu season approaching, there should be no changes to the ordinance just yet.

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“If the coronavirus acts like any other respiratory virus, we will see another spike when the weather is cool, when people are gathered more indoors potentially,” said Dr. Ulyee Choe “Most experts believe that we’re far from over, whether it’s her immunity, whether it’s a vaccine development from the CDC to the NIH, the World Health Organization.”

Commissioner Long points to what others are doing as examples to follow. “Look, all you have to do is look around the world and see, what were the measures that were put in place by the various where they have effectively been able to manage the spread,” said Commissioner Janet Long. She also mentioned ideas for schools just days before Pinellas County Schools are set to reopen. “There are examples of schools all over this country of schools that have started and within 8 days had to shut down, send everybody home. I think being cautious is prudent and I do agree that getting through a couple of incubation periods before we even think about it is very, very wise,” said Long.

Commissioners then addressed a caller’s concern about testing sites. “I had five friends go, sign up, wait in line for an hour in the heat, didn’t get in to be tested but all got calls two days later that they tested positive. They were never tested! Five people I know personally. How many other people were there that we do not know about? So I’m really begging you guys to consider this,” said P. Kelly, a resident and caller during that meeting.

Commissioners say they plan to look into the issue immediately. “And I would ask, Barry, if you or Dr. Choe, your team can look at this. I think we need to get answers for that because that keeps popping up and it really undermines faith in the system. If the board agrees, I think staff needs to track that down and get some answers,” said Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch. 

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