LEDE: Health officials say more than 30,000 Floridians have died of COVID-19, but hospitalizations and cases have continued to decline, including in northwest Florida, according to Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson.
During his weekly virtual press conference Monday morning, Robinson praised the decline in overall cases and hospitalizations in recent days. During that time, cases have fallen below the seven percent threshold.
“We were at 5.21% on February 20, which goes from 5.67; 2.89, [and] 5.2 ”, said the mayor. “So being at 5% is very good; Anything below seven, below six, is really getting us back to where we need to be. “
COVID-19 hospitalizations at the top three hospitals – Baptist, West Florida and Sacred Heart – are also declining.
“[Sunday] they were at 104; They have stayed at that level: 107, 108, 113 and now 104, ”Robinson said. “We hope to reach double digits soon. And if we get those things, we’ll start to see what we can do – masking ordinance and other measures – to alleviate them. But we have to keep watching what is happening. “
If the downward trend continues, the mayor says there could be some changes in the city’s reaction to the virus.
“We can work with the citizens; be less restrictive; [but] if things go well, we have to get back to our good habits and keep doing it, ”said the mayor. “So we keep working on it; we will be aware of everything that happens with COVID “.
Right now, the key, as is the case at the national level, is vaccines and their availability. Inclement weather last week delayed shipments to the Florida Department of Health. The agency expects to receive 2,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week.
Locally, work is underway to reschedule last week’s appointments for this week, as shipments arrive.
“The Sacred Heart will have 400 [doses], Baptist will have 400, ”Robinson said. “Community Health will have 800; DOH-Escambia 500, West Florida 200 and Woodland Specialists 200 “.
More information is available at escambiahealth.com.
“Do not contact the providers directly for these appointments,” Robinson said. “They will work with you.”
Concerns about the disparity between whites and minorities in distribution continue to be expressed across the country. In the Florida Panhandle, Robinson says the problem right now is supply, rather than distribution.
“When I look at the layout, I think we have a pretty good cross section in Escambia County,” the mayor said. “I think some of this has also been, ‘What do we do to assure everyone in the community that there is an opportunity and that it is safe to get the vaccine? And it will be necessary. “
It’s vital, the mayor says, that city and health officials work with the black community to make sure a vaccine – be it Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson or something else – is available to everyone.
“I think we have to work with partners like the Black Pastors Alliance that is really working to make sure everyone understands the importance of getting the vaccine,” Robinson said. “And that although vaccines have had some stigmas in some of our communities, we must look beyond that and really work together on this.”
Later Monday, the Escambia County DOH announced that more vaccines are on the way to the Pensacola area. One thousand doses for the Department of Health; 900 each for Sacred Heart and Baptist, Community Health Center 1,600, West Florida Hospital 400 doses and Woodlands 200.