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Mayor Offers Some Good COVID-19 News

City of Pensacola

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to surge across Florida, there appears to be a glimmer of good news for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. But the numbers – for the most part – are a mixed bag of data.

“We’ve seen a decline in hospitalizations; in the last two days we saw a 14-person decline, which is good. [Wednesday] we stand at 230,” said Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson, speaking from his office on Facebook.

The numbers, however, continue to fluctuate.

“From last week we’ve gone from 17 to 34 to 77 to 137 to 96 to only 230 [Wednesday],” said Robinson. “So the bad news is we’re still over 200.”

The hospital count had been as high as 246 just a few days ago, according to the area’s three regional hospitals, Sacred Heart, West Florida and Baptist. The mayor’s hoping this is the start of a trend that will continue to fall.

“This is why we continue to talk to you about wearing masks; I think as we’re getting better now, we’re going to hope we see [masking] increase,” said the mayor. “If we get to a point where really in our two-county area all of us were working together, wearing a mask as much as we could, we could significantly make a dent in hospitalizations.”

Also on the decline, says Robinson, is the number of cases testing positive in EscaRosa, hanging around the 12% mark on average this week.

“At this particular time we have 6,302 positive COVIDS that have happened in Escambia County,” the mayor said. “Many of these people have fully recovered, and so that’s a good thing.”

Robinson met with officials of the three hospitals this week and said the main goal is to keep their numbers as low as possible and conversely, the number of available intensive care beds as high as possible. The main challenge is not knowing who’s positive and who’s not.

“And what’s crazy about trying to stop it is – we don’t know who will get it, and we don’t know who will have a more severe reaction to it,” said the mayor. “And the impact it will have on your workforce, and the ability to grow things when you have exposure and work through that has been very difficult.”

There have been nine COVID-related deaths in Escambia and Santa Rosa so far this week, at the unhappy intersection of testing, positive results for the virus, and hospitalizations.

“It runs in that kind of cycle; hopefully we’re going to see our positivity is starting to trend down, hopefully it’s going to translate to trending down in our hospitalizations,” said Robinson. “Our deaths are up because of our hospitalizations, but if we can trim our hospitalizations eventually our deaths will come down as well.”

To close or to keep open businesses in the pandemic remains a hot topic. Robinson has said he’s against closing, adding he’s not sure that’s the biggest issue at play here. In May, wearing masks was gaining ground and doors were opening to a dropping caseload.

“May shows we can be open and keep numbers low,” said Robinson. “To me it’s not about opening and closing, it’s really about getting serious about proper protocols that we call can do. Why do we need to shut businesses down if we ourselves can put on a mask and just show proper behavior and make it much more successful to fight the virus?”

Robinson repeated the mantra he and other officials have used since the pandemic invaded our shores four months ago – avoid crowds, social distance, and put on a mask – especially the latter, which are fairly easy to obtain.

“You can get one at different hours of the day in different places,” the mayor said. “We start out in the morning at Sanders Beach; Midday we come over to the Cobb Center and Monday through Thursday, 4 to 6 [p.m.], we’re over at Gull Point. The city is happy to give out masks to any individuals who need it; we believe it’s one of the things we need to do, and we are doing it.”

And the mayor announced that the city would be applying to Escambia County for money from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act. Florida is distributing $250 million through its counties.