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St. Pete mask campaign targets zip codes hardest hit by COVID-19

In July, volunteers with the Mask Up! St. Pete Campaign will give out free masks and Mask Up! T-shirts to help raise awareness and stop the spread of coronavirus.

TAMPA, Fla — With coronavirus cases in Florida on the rise, many are doing all they can to protect themselves and others during these uncertain times. 

Recent data shows an increased number of cases in South St. Petersburg, which is home to the largest population of Black residents in the county. According to Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard, South St. Pete has over 1,000 recorded cases of COVID-19.

"I grew up in South St Pete and the second I realized the virus was rampant in the area I knew that I needed to do something to help," said Dr. Katurah Jenkins-Hall, Co-organizer for Mask Up! St Pete. 

Credit: covid surveillance dashboard

In an effort to combat the rise of infection, a coalition of community partners, including the City of St. Petersburg, One Community, the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, Collective Empowerment Group of the Tampa Bay Area, and several faith-based organizations, are working together to help and raise awareness. 

"We are doing our part to give out masks, lead by example, and share information that will help people stay safe and flatten the curve. Each mask we give out, comes with a message and tips for safety during the pandemic," said Jenkins-Hall.

Credit: Mask Up! St Pete

Campaign co-organizers Imam Askia Muhammad Aquil and Rev. Dr. Katurah Jenkins-Hall are leading the effort for the campaign while organizing volunteers to hand out Mask UP! St Pete T-shirts and protective mask coverings free of charge. The campaign efforts are laser-focused, starting in the 33705 zip code, which currently has the highest number of cases in the county. The next highest rate is also in South St. Pete, in zip code 33712, which has 400 cases.

The masks are free and made available 1201 7th Avenue South, also known as the human service center for the Greater Mount Zion AME church in South St. Pete. 

Credit: Mask Up! St Pete volunteers

Since the campaign launched July 3rd, they've been able to hand out hundreds of mask coverings and had nearly 60 people to volunteer and help raise awareness. 

"We want to focus on the hard-hit areas and help our community with grass-root efforts, having almost 60 people register to volunteer was awesome and on our first day of hitting the pavement 40 of the registered persons came out along others who walked up and offered to help," Jenkins-Hall continued. "We'd prefer to keep a system of order and have people register online so we can have a headcount and ensure safety and social distance." 

The goal is to keep the campaign going until the cases in South St. Pete go down significantly. 

"This campaign is here to stay. We aren't done until we see those numbers go down and flatten the curve," said Jenkins-Hall.

If you are interested in volunteering or taking part in the MASK UP! ST. PETE campaign, you can register here

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Credit: Mask Up! St Pete

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