Amid coronavirus concerns, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor reminds you to wash your hands

She gave that message and others at a Thursday press conference about coronavirus, or COVID-19.

click to enlarge Amid coronavirus concerns, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor reminds you to wash your hands

Health officials, politicians, business owners and apprehensive residents have a healthy fear about the spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19, in the Tampa area.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor is one of those concerned citizens, and she addressed her concerns alongside Hillsborough County Commissioner Chair Les Miller in downtown Tampa in a Thursday afternoon press conference.

 “We’re here to address a global issue that has the potential to impact our entire community—the coronavirus, or COVID-19,” Miller said to start the conference. “But let me make one thing clear—there are no reported cases in Hillsborough County, or in the state of Florida.”

Throughout the press conference, Castor—with the help of Dr. Charles Lockwood, USF’s Health Dean of the Morsani College of Medicine—stressed that Bay area officials are continuously preparing for the unfortunate day that coronavirus might make its way into the Bay area. 

“We’re here to ensure our residents that we are as prepared as possible to deal with this disease if and when it arrives in our community,” Castor said. 

Castor urged Tampa residents to obtain their information from reputable sources and to not fall victim to online rumors, like the paranoid South Floridians who bought all of the face masks in their area. Dr. Lockwood said face masks don’t prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Tampa Bay’s aggressive preventative and prepared measures are similar to that of Florida’s approach to coronavirus as a whole. Although some Floridians may worry about the heavy international tourism surrounding Disney World, Gov. Ron  DeSantis squashed anxieties in a his own Thursday press conference, stating that “the state of Florida is fully committed, and is doing everything we can to prepare and respond to coronavirus.” 

Earlier this month, US. Rep. Charlie Christ wrote a letter to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), stating that there should be more of an emphasis on transparency about how coronavirus is spread. But Florida health officials aren’t currently revealing information about monitoring possible cases since the virus has yet to be declared a public health crisis.

Perhaps the scariest thing about coronavirus is the fact that it is so contagious, and one can be infected without showing symptoms. Concerned citizens can meet that challenge with strong preventative measures, like simply washing their hands, and education about the virus. In the Thursday press conference Dr. Lockwood said that 80% of people with coronavirus are asymptomatic or only show mild symptoms.

RELATED: Wash your damn hands, Tampa Bay

It's probably also worth pointing out that a different virus, influenza (aka the flu), has already sickened at least 13 million Americans this winter and killed 6,600 people

The first cases of the coronavirus were reported in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China in late December 2019, and now there are 48 countries reporting infections, according to live updates from the New York Times. 

According to the CDCP, various symptoms associated with coronavirus are fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Although there are no reported cases of coronavirus in Florida, Mayor Castor and the rest of Tampa Bay are making sure the Bay area is prepared if the unfortunate day ever comes. In the spirit of preparedness, Castor promises minute-by-minute updates on any further news surrounding coronavirus. 

Miller added Floridians and Tampeños alike should not fear the coronavirus at this point because state’s health officials have not yet declared it acrisis—but that might change very soon.

Early on Thursday, the state of California reported the first instance of a community-transferred infection. All other reported cases in the U.S. have been obtained overseas.

But in the meantime, wash your damn hands and chill out.

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About The Author

Kyla Fields

Kyla Fields is the Managing Editor of Creative Loafing Tampa Bay who started their journey at CL as summer 2019 intern. They are the proud owner of a charming, sausage-shaped, four-year-old rescue mutt named Piña.
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