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00000177-b32b-d5f4-a5ff-bbfb6e660000Here is the information you need to know about COVID-19 in Northwest Florida. We will keep this post updated with the latest information from local, and statewide agencies. For inforamtion from Centers for Disease Control and prevention: cdc.gov/coronavirusFor updates on Florida cases of coronavirus, visit the FDOH dashboard.The COVID-19 call center is available at 24/7 at 1-866-779-6121

City Launches Pensacola Youth Council; Mayor Urges More COVID Precautions

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Meda

High school students interested in becoming involved in their community, learning about local government and honing their leaderships skills are invited to join the Pensacola Youth Council, a new program being launched by the city of Pensacola.

“We are working with the city of Gulf Breeze and the city of Milton; you need to be in the 11th or 12th grade during the 2021 year, which is this year,” said Robinson. “During COVID-19 all Pensacola Youth Council meetings and activities will be virtual during the spring 20-21 semester.”

Affiliated with the Florida League of Cities, the pilot program will run for nine weeks from March 22 through May 21. Besides being high school juniors and seniors, students must be Pensacola residents; and submit applications by Friday, March 12. Applications are available at cityofpensacola.com.  Notification of selections will be the following Friday.

“If gives students the chance to experience and see what government is like; I think Jeff Bergosh did this with the [Escambia County] Commission a while back,” the mayor said. “We’re looking to do the same thing.”

The Youth Council is one of the myriad programs originally slated to begin in 2020 — and then the pandemic hit.

“We’ve been talking about it since 2019; we were going to do it in 2020 but COVID has delayed it until 2021,” said Robinson. “It’s really a chance for us to get involved and get students that are active and wanting to participate.”

Opportunities to serve in local government and sharpening leadership skills are issues the city has been discussing with the city’s two public high schools, Washington and Pensacola High School.

“We have not done a good job of letting students know that there are great career opportunities right here in the public sector, that you can do,” the mayor said. “You may not become [Amazon founder] Jeff Bezos, but you can make a good living and really serve your community. And I think it goes with things we need to be looking at as well in how we develop talent and leadership and grow that. And this is one way to do it.”

Pensacola Youth Council members will attend after-school, evening and weekend sessions that include, but not limited to, City Council meetings, meetings with the Mayor and designated city staff, educational opportunities and more.

Elsewhere, the COVID-19 numbers continue to fall in the Pensacola area. Hospitalizations at the three main medical facilities ranged from 98 down to 72 over the past five days. The long-term goal is to get below 50 hospitalizations.

“We don’t think at this particular time that we’ve seen the benefits from what the vaccines will start to show as we move forward,” said Robinson. “We’re still asking you to do all the social distancing; we’ve down gone under 75 [hospitalizations], I think over the next couple of weeks we’ll get down to that 50 and we’ll have other things we’ll have to look at.”

The long-term goal is to get to 50 hospitalizations. And the positivity rate is also encouraging says the mayor, who received his first vaccine shot Monday.

“[Ranging from] 4.71 (percent); the other day we were at 5.29 on Feb. 24,” said Robinson. “The 25th was 4.94 and then on Friday, we were at 5.02. So again, we have moved down our positivity, which is a good thing.”

The Florida Department of Health is out with this week’s vaccine distribution schedule for Escambia County. The allocations are based on the percentage of residents age 65 and older.

“Sacred Heart-Ascension is getting 500 doses; Baptist Healthcare 500 doses,” the mayor said. “Community Health-Northwest Florida 800 doses; Department of Health-Escambia is 500 and West Florida Hospital 200. Some appointments will be scheduled using the statewide preregistration system; Escambia and partner agencies are in the process of contacting individuals to schedule appointments.”

Information including who to call to schedule or reschedule an appointment can be found atcityofpensacola.com.   

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.