Mayor: COVID And Citizens Advisory Committee Updates
More citizen input for the police department and monitoring coronavirus – two of the main items on Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson’s plate during his weekly news conference on Monday.
The mayor pointed to recent upticks in the number of cases and testing percentages. But he adds they’re still under the April and May figures.
“We just continue to follow what’s happening with COVID, and continue to watch and see what’s going on,” said the Mayor. “It may be too early to start saying there’s an upward trend, but the numbers in the last couple of showings have definitely seen some things going up.”
Escambia County reported 21 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday to total 1,020. Of those cases; Santa Rosa County increased by 4 to reach 297. No new deaths have been reported. The death toll remains at 38 in Escambia, and nine in Santa Rosa.
Three additional patients in Escambia have been hospitalized since Monday, bringing to 72 the number since the start of the pandemic.
The mayor pointed to recent upticks in the number of cases, testing percentage and hospitalizations. But he adds they’re still under the April and May figures, and they’re still watching.
“According to the Florida Department of Health, there are now 985 positive cases of COVID in Escambia County,” said the mayor. “Last week, test rates had less than one percent on most days. It may be too early to say there’ an upward trend, but the numbers in the last couple of showings have definitely seen some things going up.”
Hospitalizations are also up, with 19 in the three regional hospitals as of Sunday, compared to nine a week ago. Robinson asks everyone to continue to follow CDC guidelines and take preventative measures.
“At this point, we don’t see enough to transition us into a yellow, but we are definitely following things,” Robinson said. “And I will be following things with all three hospitals, we we’ll be discussing this uptick and what this means, and what we need to be doing.”
For now, the city’s traffic-light-style status indicator is at green. The threshold for going yellow is if COVID-19 causes a 15% or more reduction in public safety staff.
“Making deliverable – police, fire, EMS kind of things that would that would be making deliverables to you; that’s when we go to yellow,” said the mayor. “We go to red at 30% down – that’s when we just can’t function anymore.”
Elsewhere, work is resuming on organizing a citizens’ advisory committee to work with the Pensacola Police Department and consultant Cedric Alexander, after a three-month hiatus because of the pandemic. Three commitments have already been made by City Council members in districts 1, 2, and 3.
“District-1 has committed to Laura McKnight; District-2 has committed to Charles Bare, and District-3 has committed to Drew Buchanan,” said Robinson. “The mayor’s office will have four appointees, which will comprise of total of 11.”
Those on Robinson’s list include activists Haley Morrissette and Kyle Cole; and the search is on for the other two. The goal, says the mayor, is to have all nominees in place by the end of this week.
“Once we have the entire group assembled, we will task the members with going into the community to gather input; once we have input, the committee will meet together and talk about their role will be going forward,” said Robinson. “The city will schedule at least one town hall with committee members and Cedric, but we want to be able to narrow the focus of the town halls in order to make them more productive.”
The CAC and extra cop training stem from a grand jury report on last summer’s shooting death of Tymar Crawford – a 28-year-old African-American – by Detective Daniel Siemen, who was subsequently fired. Robinson contends giving police the proper training is more important than forming the commission.
“When we hired Cedric we gave him two deliverables; we wanted the training and we eventually wanted to figure out with this committee as we move forward,” the mayor said. “He’s moved as fast as he’s gotten done on this training; we didn’t anticipate three months to be lost to COVID. But we did make the decision to that we thought training was more important, to begin focusing on that training so that we didn’t make errors.”
Mayor Robinson also used the virtual news conference to clarify a point made last week. It was reported that he told those protesting the death of George Floyd to find another place to gather besides the 17th Street railroad trestle. Organizer Kyle Cole refused.
“I met with Kyle; we made suggestions, we certainly understand and respect they’re going to be where they are,” said Robinson. “We’ve told them we just need to work and make sure we can be as safe as we need to in that location. All those things are continuing to be discussed.”
And the mayor reiterated his call for dialogue to be civil and constructive, adding he looks forward to the reopening of City Hall to the public which is tentatively set for July 7.