“Pinellas County’s rate is 77 percent higher in terms of increase as compared to the state in general.”

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – As the U.S. Coronavirus death toll tops 200,000 – now the highest in the world – some Tampa Bay area doctors are discussing the recent increase in positive cases.

“What are you doing?! You are creating fear and panic,” said Virginia Frizzle, a Pinellas County resident.

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“I am so for face masks. It’s the minimum that could be required, the minimum that we can do, not only for the person standing across from us, or standing next to us in line at the supermarket,” said Karen Mullins, a Pinellas County resident.

Among a variation of calls from Pinellas County residents Tuesday afternoon, Pinellas County officials listened in prior to voting on the local State of Emergency.

“There may be cases and there may be rises and falls in cases, but nobody’s dying on the street and therefore there is no emergency. For you to force mask wearing on me and have no basis for it…,” said Dawn Lechner, a Pinellas County resident.

This afternoon’s Board of County Commissioners meeting was different though. As the U.S. coronavirus death toll tops two hundred thousand, now the highest in the world, local doctors right here in Tampa Bay are discussing their recent increase in positive cases.

Before voting in favor to extend the county’s local State of Emergency, the board brought forward several doctors to speak on the county’s most recent numbers.

“So we are seeing an uptick, in fact, our new cases have gone up two out of the past three weeks,” said Dr. Larry Feinman.

Tampa surgeon, Dr. Feinman says, week over week, state versus Pinellas County, the state has flattened, whereas Pinellas County’s rate has increased.

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“Pinellas County’s rate is 77 percent higher in terms of increase as compared to the state in general,” said Dr. Feinman.

Doctor Nishelle Threadgill pointed to the near future where our ability to isolate may diminish over the next few weeks.

“October is the next option for Pinellas County School students that may choose to return to school and I certainly suspect that there will be quite a few who now will also return to those classrooms,” said Dr. Nishelle Threadgill, CMO, Community Health Centers of Pinellas.

Just after the board’s vote to extend the local State of Emergency, the board then discussed separating the mask mandate ordinance from the local State of Emergency due to the amount of time the public comment portion of the meetings was taking.

“Our work is piling up because we have never taken public comment at our work sessions. When we’re taking public comment for hours at a time, things are not getting done that our citizens are waiting for us to get done,” said Janet Long, a Pinellas County Commissioner.

“Commissioner Long I hear what you’re saying but we have yet not finished a meeting. So any work that’s on the agenda has gotten completed in every single meeting, even with people calling in; and I think it’s a real slippery slope when you represent the people, that you don’t want to hear from them, especially on something that is so important as this outbreak and this pandemic,” said Kathleen Peters, a Pinellas County Commissioner.

The board voted 4 to 3 in favor of delegated the extension of the local State of Emergency each week to County Administrator Barry Burton. This will remain overseen by Burton until the board gathers further detail from physicians, giving them reason to discuss the order in detail again.

Doctors during that meeting suggested they come together to create a proposal for the Board of Commissioners explaining potential metrics to begin rescinding the mask ordinance.

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