COVID-19 Industry Update
March 22, 2021
Amidst strong visitation in St. Pete/Clearwater, today marks another milestone in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starting today, residents 50 and older can sign up for COVID-19 vaccine appointments at public sites and pharmacies in Pinellas County. According to the latest Census Bureau data, that means about another 150,000 Pinellas County residents between ages 50-59 are now eligible.
This new group can create an account now at www.PatientPortalFL.com or by calling 844-770-8548 and can then check for available appointments now. The website and phone number are available 24/7.
Publix, CVS, Winn Dixie, Walmart, and Sam's Club pharmacies are also offering vaccines to the eligible groups, in addition to K-12 teachers of any age as directed by the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership. Residents can check each of the pharmacy chain websites for more information. K-12 teachers under 50 can also receive their vaccine at the federally-supported, state-run site at the Tampa Greyhound Track.
The Florida Department of Emergency Management is also running a walk-up vaccination site at The Centre at Palm Harbor (1500 16th St, Palm Harbor, FL 34683) from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.) until at least March 27. Public sites operated by the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas and Pinellas County Government are adding new first dose appointments each week at three sites as additional shipments are received from the state.
Residents needing transportation to a vaccine site have options available in Pinellas County:
• PSTA currently offers free bus service to several drop-off locations near vaccine sites within Pinellas County. Check here a route convenient to you.
• Neighborly offers free rides to adults 60 and over for medical appointments including vaccines. The medical appointment must be within 10 miles of your home, and you must book a ride at least two days in advance of the appointment. Register here.>
• The Area Agency on Aging helps Pinellas seniors find free or low-cost local transportation via their Helpline at 1-800-963-5337.
• Residents with Medicaid can get a free ride to vaccine appointments. Once the shot is scheduled, residents are asked to call their health plan provider to get the name and phone number for the transportation service. If not in a health plan, residents can call the Medicaid help line at 1-877-254-1055 to be connected with a transportation service.
To date, more than 220,000 people have received one or both doses of the vaccine in Pinellas County. All the latest information on vaccine availability countywide can be found here.
In the meantime, we’ve seen more than 25,000 people take our Rise to Shine Pledge to visit safely and responsibly and our Sunshine Steward street teams have been busy rewarding visitors and making headlines. Local businesses are still encouraged to use recently updated signage and opt-in to the Rise to Shine program to receive free materials promoting safe travel.
Below are other pertinent updates:
REGISTER FOR FRLA EMPLOYEE RESOURCES EVENT SET FOR THIS THURSDAY
With a busy spring visitation season and increased business needs, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) is hosting a free special recruiting event that will allow you to meet in person with Career resources that can help you connect and hire employees. Representatives from the following career resources will be on site to discuss your hiring needs: CareerSource Pinellas, USF, Pinellas Technical College, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg College, Goodwill, Metropolitan Ministries, Job Corps, Local Veterans Employment Representatives, chattr, Catholic Charities Diocese of St. Petersburg and Patricia & Associates Recruiting Specialists. The event is from 8:30-10 a.m. Thursday, March 25, at the Marriott St. Petersburg Clearwater on Roosevelt Boulevard. Registration is required by Wednesday, March 24.
SPECTRUM FIELD IS NOW BAYCARE BALLPARK
Announced in late February, Clearwater’s Spectrum Field is now BayCare Ballpark under a new six-year rights deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. The stadium opened in 2004 as Bright House Field and changed its name back in 2017 when the TV and internet provider was acquired.
GOVENOR DESANTIS RECOMMENDS ADDITIONAL $50 MILLION TO VISIT FLORIDA
Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that he is recommending $50 million in federal stimulus funding for Visit Florida, bringing his total budget recommendation for FY21-22 to $100 million. Visit Florida is encouraging tourism partners to contact legislators in the Florida House and Senate to voice support for the recommendation and the positive effect it will have.
TSA SEES PANDEMIC RECORD PASSENGER SCREENINGS
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has seen the three highest passenger screenings number in the past 10 days since the pandemic began last March. A new high was set on Sunday, March 21, with 1,542,115 passengers screened. It’s also the first time since last March the TSA has screened more than 1 million passengers for seven consecutive days, and that has happened now 11 days in a row.
NO END IN SIGHT FOR CANADIAN BORDER CLOSURE
Last week, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the U.S.-Canada border will continue to remain closed for the foreseeable future. Saturday, March 20, marked one year since the border closed.<
AMERICA RESCUE PLAN RELIEF RESOURCES AVAILABLE THROUGH U.S. TRAVEL
U.S. Travel Association is consolidating program specifics and the application process for the travel-related provisions contained in the American Rescue Plan (ARP). Among the resources are: Restaurant Revitalization Fund, Shuttered Venue Operators Grants and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The Small Business Administration has also posted updated PPP information, including: Frequently Asked Questions, How to calculate first draw loans and how to calculate second draw loans. U.S. Travel’s complete relief resources page has even more helpful information.
ICELAND REOPENS TO VACCINATED TRAVELERS
Starting Thursday, Iceland reopened its borders to vaccinated travelers, and to those with a previous COVID-19 infection. Upon arrival, all travelers, regardless of origin, are required to show a valid certificate showing full vaccination or a certificate showing previous infection. Complete details on the requirements and announcement can be found here.