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St. Petersburg Mayor-elect Ken Welch to give virtual address on historic inauguration day

His in-person swearing-in ceremony was canceled after Welch tested positive for COVID-19.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Ken Welch is set to make history Thursday when he is sworn in as the first Black mayor of St. Petersburg. 

Because he tested positive for COVID-19 this week, his in-person inauguration ceremony on the steps of City Hall was canceled. Instead, he will be sworn in virtually. 

Welch says he has been fully vaccinated and received his booster shot in November. Because of this, he said his COVID-19 symptoms "feel like a normal cold." 

The community events to celebrate his inauguration were already postponed due to Florida's recent spike in COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly-contagious omicron variant.

Following his inauguration Thursday morning, at noon he will give a live, virtual address, his office said in a release.

Welch's speech will be broadcast live on the city's television channel, St. Pete TV and will be on the city's Facebook page

You'll also be able to watch it live right here on 10 Tampa Bay, our Facebook page and YouTube channel

The speech will also include video from Welch's swearing-in ceremony as St. Petersburg's 54th mayor. 

“Though we will not be able to celebrate in person, let us acknowledge and celebrate the significance of the day – the day that we begin a journey together, as one community in one city, unified in purpose towards our shared goal of inclusive progress. We are St. Pete – and we will have much more to celebrate together in the years to come,” Welch said this week after testing positive. 

Sixth Judicial Circuit Judge Michael J. Andrews will preside over Welch's swearing-in. 

According to the release, Welch will work from home until he is clear from isolation, per CDC guidelines. His office says Welch is expected to begin work from City Hall on Jan. 10. 

"The Welch family has a long history of working to make St. Petersburg a better city for future generations," the release read in part. "Ken’s father, David Welch, was the first African American man to serve on the St. Petersburg City Council. His father also ran for mayor in 1991." 

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