In Tampa, there may be a small degree of temporary relief in store for some individuals and small businesses. On Tuesday morning, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announced what she hopes will end up being an $8 million fund to distribute to residents and businesses in need.
“It will offer direct payments to cover a substantial part of their rent or mortgage and essential utility costs for one month.
“Payment will be made directly to the landlord, bank or utilities. This will serve as a lifeline and a critical bridge until the state and federal support becomes available.
“For individuals who reside in the City of Tampa and were employed as of Feb. 1 but lost their job because the business closed or they lost more than 25 percent of the income because of a business slow down, we will directly pay their landlord or bank up to a $,1000 for late or forthcoming rent or mortgage, and we will cover the cost of their utilities up to $250.
“Our residents have enough to worry about during these uncertain times, which is why we want to alleviate the financial burden as much as possible while they are hopefully safe at home.”
Castor spoke from center ice in a mostly empty Amalie Arena. The three local major league sports teams have donated $100,000 to the fund.
The One Tampa fund is meant to just be a bridge until federal assistance arrives or the state’s unemployment compensation comes through.
Mayor Castor was also asked how Hillsborough County’s face mask mandate would be enforced if it passes on Thursday.
“And we want to socialize the wearing of face covers up to Thursday. In other words, get everybody used to the rules around it, where you need to wear those. And that basically is wherever you come into contact with other individuals. If you’re in the grocery store, any type of retail, or something that brings you into close proximity to other individuals.
“The two things that have been found to seem to have the greatest effect on reducing the number of positive coronavirus cases are the physical distancing and the wearing of face cover.
“As far as any type of enforcement, the enforcement will be along the lines of the Safer at Home. The enforcement there is through encouragement and education. Individuals don’t need to worry about that. They just need to think of the personal responsibility in covering their face whenever they can.
“It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. We’re actually asking citizens not to use the N95 masks because we’re trying to save those for our health providers and first responders.
“But it can be anything from a fishing buff that you wear around your neck. You can go on the YouTube videos and you can see how they make those out of a coffee filter and a handkerchief and hair ties. So they can very easily be made. And if push comes to shove you just pull your t-shirt up over your face.
“But again, it goes back to that personal responsibility and individuals shouldn’t have to worry about enforcement.”
According to the Florida Department of Health website, updated this morning, there are now more than 21,300 positive coronavirus cases in the state. 524 people have died in Florida. More than 2,900 people are hospitalized, a number that continues to grow.
Here’s the county-by-county breakdown of the number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus in the Tampa Bay area:
In Hillsborough, there are 819 (with 17 deaths), in Pinellas 491 (with 14 deaths). There are 259 in Manatee (with 16 deaths), 233 in Sarasota (with 14 deaths), 122 in Charlotte, (with 5 deaths), 171 in Pasco (with 3 deaths), 71 in Hernando (with 2 deaths), 73 in Citrus (with 7 deaths) and 277 in Polk (with 10 deaths).
Fifty people have tested positive in zip code 34208, which includes parts of Bradenton, Ellenton and south Bradenton. The two zip codes with the next most positive cases are both in Hillsborough County. 33647, which includes parts of Tampa, Lutz and University with 41 and 33614, which includes parts of Tampa, Carrollwood and Town ‘n’ County with 38 positive cases.
There have been nearly 22,200 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. The CDC updated those numbers Tuesday afternoon. There are now more than 579,000 positive COVID-19 cases in the country.
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