TAMPA, FL — With positive coronavirus cases continuing to rise in Hillsborough County, the county’s Emergency Policy Group voted to extend the mandatory face mask order for another seven days during its meeting on Monday.
According to Hillsborough County Emergency Management Director Tim Dudley, the rolling 14-day average of cases is 670, an increase of 5.9. The positivity rate based on daily test results is 15 percent.
John Hopkins University of Medicine has issued guidelines recommending that states reach positivity rates of 10 percent or below before they can be removed as “red zone” states.
A document prepared for the White House Coronavirus Task Force said those states in the red zone should maintain stringent protective measures, limit social gatherings to 10 people or fewer, close bars and gyms and ask residents to wear masks at all times.
Currently, there are 11 states in the red zone including Florida, Georgia, California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina.
To be in the red zone, more than 10 percent of diagnostic test results must come back positive for the coronavirus.
According to Johns Hopkins, Florida’s overall positive percentage is 18.72 percent. The only two states with a higher percentage of positive cases are Arizona with 23.56 percent and Nevada with 19.14 percent.
As of Monday, 24,135 residents have tested positive for the coronavirus and 246 people have died.
Just over 13 percent of Hillsborough County’s population has been tested for the coronavirus, said Dudley.
He said the county’s free testing sites are booked well in advance.
But volunteers may become more scarce in the coming weeks. The University of South Florida College of Nursing has been staffing the public testing sites at county community resource centers in east Tampa, Plant City and SouthShore. But, with the summer semester coming to an end, the county will be losing many of these volunteers.
Dudley said the county hopes to use state funding to hire a contracted provider to staff those sites.
Testing sites are located at:
Raymond James Stadium, 4201 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa
Lee Davis Community Resource Center, 3402 N. 22nd St., Tampa
Plant City Community Resource Center, 307 N. Michigan Ave., Plant City
SouthShore Community Resource Center, 201 14th Ave. S.D., Ruskin
Suncoast Community Health Centers, 313 S. Lakewood Drive, Brandon
Redeemer Lutheran Church, 701 Valley Forge Blvd., Sun City Center
Wimauma Opportunity Center, 5128 State Road 674
Tampa Family Health Centers, 12085 W. Hillsborough Ave., Town n’ Country
To make an advance appointment, go online or call the county’s main information line at 813-272-5900. No doctor’s referral is needed, and insurance is not required.
The next EPG meeting is Thursday, July 23 at 1:30 p.m.
Hillsborough County EPG
This article originally appeared on the Tampa Patch