MASK UP! ST. PETE distributes 2000 masks during first campaign event

On July 3, more than 45 volunteers took part in MASK UP! ST. PETE’s campaign launch in the south side’s 33705 zip code. Volunteers distributed over 2,000 masks and hundreds of t-shirts and flyers to help aid in the fight against COVID-19.

By J.A. Jones, Staff Writer

​ST. PETERSBURG – Last Friday, more than 45 volunteers took part in MASK UP! ST. PETE’s campaign launch in the south side’s 33705 zip code. Volunteers distributed over 2,000 masks and hundreds of t-shirts and flyers to help aid in the fight against COVID-19.

Volunteers met up with MASK UP! ST. PETE’s co-leaders, Imam Askia Muhammad Aquil and Dr. Katurah Jenkins-Hall, at Cross and Anvil Human Services location at 1201 7th Ave. S at 4 p.m. for check-in. After volunteers were assigned to team captains, they were decked out in MASK UP! ST. PETE logo shirts before heading off to distribution sites throughout the 33705 area.

Distribution sites included Enoch Davis Center, Greater Mount Zion AME, Macedonia Freewill Baptist Church, PERC, Salem’s Fresh Eats, and key intersections, including Martin Luther King, Jr. Street and 18th Avenue South, 16th Street and 7th Avenue South and 18th Street and 16th Avenue South.

The St. Petersburg Metropolitan Section of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) also distributed masks and other items beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Friday from the Cross and Anvil location, while Historic Bethel AME distributed masks in Methodist Town, which is within 33705, on Friday evening.

Dr. Jenkins-Hall noted, “Though we were hot and tired afterward, everyone thought the sweat was well worth it! My favorite scene was passing one site, Macedonia Freewill Baptist Church, seeing an unmasked passenger in a taxicab ask the driver to pull over, and they both received masks.”

She added that the MASK UP! ST. PETE initiative is simply supporting the work that many other organizations have been doing distributing masks over the last several weeks and months.

She expressed that it is vital to “lend our support in this critical time when our communities where our families, friends, and colleagues are, exist in the red zone.”

The “red zone” is the term used to identify the communities with more than 25 new cases per 100,000 in a county. Danielle Allen, a professor and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, helped develop the color codes to determine the rate of acceleration of the disease within communities.

The color coded system and accompanying research have been shared online at https://globalepidemics.org/key-metrics-for-covid-suppression/. This week, more than 200 U.S. counties are in the red zone, equaling more than 36 million people.

“When you get into that orange and red zone, it means, in all likelihood, you’re seeing a lot of velocity, a kind of fast upward trend,” Allen explained. A county with less than one daily new case per 100,000 is green; between one and nine cases are coded yellow, and between 10 and 24 is in the orange zone.

According to the most recent Florida statistics, COVID-19 is skyrocketing in Pinellas County and is being largely felt in communities of Black people. Numbers indicate that African Americans are contracting COVID-19 at rates four times higher than whites. South St. Petersburg, which is home to the largest population of Black residents in the county, holds the highest amount of COVID-19 cases in the county.

As of July 9, according to Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard, five St. Pete zip codes are in the red zone: 33710 (346 cases); 33705 (615 cases); 33711 (365);  33712 (489) cases; 33713 (349).

“Our goal is to continue the campaign with the same level of excellence and enthusiasm,” stated Jenkins-Hall.

For more information and upcoming distribution dates, contact Imam Askia Muhammad Aquil at askia.aquil@gmail.com or Rev. Dr. Katurah Jenkins-Hall at docjenkhall@gmail.com.

Volunteers are needed as zip code distribution expands, please register at Maskupvolunteers2.eventbrite.com.

To reach J.A. Jones, email jjones@theweeklychallenger.com

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