ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Mayor Rick Kriseman is keeping the heat on Gov. Ron DeSantis for a statewide shutdown to slow the spread of COVID-19. He took the opportunity during a live stream on Monday.
"We need 67 counties working off the same sheet of music," said Kriseman. "You are safer if you are staying at home."
The governor has held firm on his March 24 statement that shutting down counties without cases would needlessly crush their economies.
"Some people think the governor should just be a dictator and order and imprison everyone in their homes," the governor said.
Kriseman says this is about consistency. He noted DeSantis is urging four counties in South Florida - Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe - to stay at home until mid-May.
Pinellas County leaders are allowing businesses to stay open as long as they follow strict social distancing but the mayor of the county's largest city isn't sure it's working.
St. Petersburg police got 64 complaints this weekend about folks still casually visiting parks and businesses.
"The short-term economic pain it will cause is worth the lives it will save," Kriseman said of a statewide shutdown.
During a press conference Monday in Miami, the governor noted South Florida has 3,300 cases, which is almost 60% of the state's cases. Pinellas and Hillsborough have 400 cases combined.
"We definitely view the South Florida region as a unique part of the state," said DeSantis. "Particularly when you talk about a virus that started internationally."
Last week, when the governor said he wouldn't order a statewide shutdown, there were 22 counties without cases. Today, that number has dropped to 15.
Kriseman also kept urging residents during Monday's live stream not to gather in parks, saying they are being kept open for those passing through to exericise, not to stop and gather.
St. Pete got 64 calls this weekend from those complaining about the social distance of others. Those in parks, businesses and house parties were all called out, though not yet issued misdemeanor citations.
"The easiest way to not get one is just don't do it," said Kriseman. "Yes, we kept parks open, but we did so with the understanding social distancing guidelines would be followed."
For her part, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor ordered parks closed and said city workers are monitoring those exercising in public, like on Bayshore or the Riverwalk.
She has been satisfied with how residents have followed guidelines, with police getting only 18 calls on Monday from those complaining about the social distancing of others.
"I personally drove through downtown and all around the city, and the streets were abandoned over the weekend," said Castor.
Governor DeSantis' office did not immediately issue a response to what Kriseman said.
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