Severe Weather Damage

The cold front that came through the Bay area yesterday spawned tornadoes that tore through Pinellas, Hillsborough and Polk counties. 25 buildings sustained damage in Pinellas Park around Endeavor Way to the south of Bryan Dairy Road and thousands were without power. The tornado made its way across the Howard Frankland bridge into Hillsborough County, then moving into Polk county and damaging homes in Gibsonia.

There are stricter mask rules in Hillsborough County. Masks must be worn in businesses when social distancing is not possible, and can only be removed in restaurants and bars when seated. County Commissioners also voted to not let patrons gather on dance floors. Code enforcement officers are going to businesses with new signs and to check compliance.

11,541 new coronavirus cases were added to the state total in Florida Wednesday. That total is now 1,155,335, with 20,204,Florida resident deaths. If you have questions or need more information from the Florida Department of Health, the COVID-19 Call Center is available 24/7 be calling 1-866-779-6121. You can also reach them by email at Email responses will be sent during call center hours. BayCare is offering rapid result tests at nine Urgent Care Centers for asymptomatic individuals. This is one you’ll have to pay for up front at $150 and can make an online appointment for on the BayCare web site. The newest locations for free, drive through shots are at five Hillsborough County school locations which will require a reservation. You can take care of that by calling 813-307-8085 Monday through Friday from 8-5 pm. Other Free COVID-19 tests are available in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties. For more please check in with us daily here.

Pinellas County has begun vaccinations at long-term care facilities. The Florida Department of Health has a total of 68 facilities to visit, starting with a dozen Wednesday. CVS and Walgreens have government contracts to dispense vaccination and will start in nursing homes on Monday.

For the first time in 115 years, the Annual Feast of the Epiphany Celebration in Tarpon Springs that usually draws thousands will now be downsized. It will be closed to the public and all the boys diving for the cross will be wearing masks up until the point they dive in to the bayou, and only two family members per diver will be allowed. The Glendi Celebration is also canceled. Don’t even try to get close - city officials say Craig Park and the areas around the Spring Bayou will be closed to prevent crowds.

Sports are on hold at public schools in Polk County with more that 50 student-athletes testing positive for COVID-19. Dan Talbot, Director of Athletics for Polk County Schools said Tuesday none of the missed games will be forfeited and they’re hoping to get things back on track by January 4th.

The Toronto Raptors are calling Tropicana Field home for now and are inviting a limited number of fans to watch their games. Ticket sales begin Thursday for up to 3,200 fans for the preseason and 3,800 for the regular season. That will start on the 23rd against New Orleans. To help maintain social distancing seats will be sold in pods of two or four and start at $35. No seats will be sold within 30 feet of the court and you must wear a mask.

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