Monday, March 1st, was exactly one year after the first coronavirus cases were confirmed in Florida. The first few cases were found here, in the Tampa Bay area of our Sunshine state. A lot has happened since then. We've had lockdowns, beloved restaurants suffer, some shut down permanently, and most importantly and sadly, many lives lost.
In Florida, we've had a total of nearly 2 million cases and just over 30,000 deaths from COVID-19.
Over the course of the year, we have learned a lot about the virus, and thankfully vaccines have been starting to roll out. Here in Pasco County, those over 65 years old can schedule vaccination appointments at the drive-thru vaccination clinics.
In addition to vaccines, there's been a lot that we've learned about fighting COVID and the community has come together to help each other and support small businesses. So how can we continue to fight this pandemic together, as a community? There are a few ways.
Support Small Businesses
Small businesses in the Tampa Bay area still need our help and support. As we work on returning to a more normal state of affairs, small businesses are still suffering the effects of the pandemic. So shop locally when you're able to.
Creative Loafing has compiled a list of our local businesses that need additional support and how you can help, so please check this list out and help when able: https://www.cltampa.com/news-views/local-news/article/21124669/heres-a-list-of-local-tampa-bay-small-businesses-that-are-still-open-and-need-your-business
Photo of Health Mutt, courtesy of Creative Loafing
On that list are businesses such as Friends of Strays, a local pet adoption agency, Health Mutt, and even some larger but still in need of help organizations such as The Florida Aquarium.
Shopping small makes a huge difference to organizations and businesses in need of assistance primarily through businesses and customers. Although we're recovering from COVID-19, there are still many businesses that weren't able to recover and had to close their doors.
Wear a Mask
Wearing a mask has been shown to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Although it's not a substitute for social distancing, wearing a mask provides an extra layer of protection. All businesses are requiring customers to continue to wear masks while shopping in stores, as the county has made this mandatory.
Something that we can all do is respect each other and ourselves and continue to wear masks to ward off COVID-19 and slow the transmission of the virus. If you have any questions about masks or mask effectiveness for this pandemic, check out the CDC's website here. They provide a lot of helpful information for individuals.
Again, all businesses here in Pasco County are requiring customers and clients to wear masks, along with employees, for everyone's safety.
Follow Official Guidelines
Since the pandemic started, Pasco County has put up a website to help citizens navigate these sometimes confusing times. It can be found here.
Screenshot of our Pasco County COVID Information site
Some of the guidelines that our officials urge us to follow are:
- Wear face masks as mandated when conducting business outside of the home.
- Please contact the Florida Department of Health if you are ill with COVID or suspect you are ill with COVID.
- Maintain social distancing of six feet apart when possible.
The Pasco County COVID Information website provides many other resources to us now that we are one year into dealing with the pandemic. It also provides additional vaccination site information at public places such as Publix Pharmacy, Walmart, Winn-Dixie Pharmacy, Sam's Club, and CVS Pharmacy.
Although this year has been tough on many people physically and mentally, we now have resources to help us through these troubling times. Thankfully, we are closer to wide-spread vaccinations and have more information regarding the COVID-19 virus so that we can better protect ourselves and fight it.
Moving forward, support small businesses, wear a mask, and follow official guidelines. We will find ourselves in an even better place soon.