Mayor Robinson On Vaccinations: 'The Shots Are There'
The latest coronavirus figures and curbing greenhouse gas emissions were among the topics in Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson’s weekly news conference at City Hall on Monday.
According to the latest figures from the Florida Department of Health, the numbers continue to be down in the Pensacola area.
“It’s a nine percent positive rate for May 8; that follows 3.84, 3.51 and 4.0 before that,” said the mayor. “We’re seeing the same things in hospitalizations, and we continue to stay in that same range – around 30, up and back.”
Robinson continued to ask residents to take the necessary steps to protect themselves, adding that the main step is getting the needle in the arm.
“Last Monday I had my call with the hospitals and I think the most significant impact we’re seeing, is that people are saying you can now call in, and in two hours you can be sitting there actually getting a shot,” said Robinson. “They can almost turn around and get you in immediately – the shots are there.”
To date, roughly 100,000 Escambia Countians have received at least one COVID shot; but Robinson reiterated that the goal remains 200,000.
“Everyone 16 and older can certainly get the shots; our population of 16 and older were about 37% last Monday; the challenge is the state average is 48%,” the mayor said. “So we really need to do a better job there. This has sort of prompted us to look at City Hall, and say if you’ve been vaccinated, we’re going to say you don’t have to wear a mask anymore.”
That applies to those who are two weeks beyond their second Moderna or Pfizer shot, and two weeks beyond the lone dose from Johnson & Johnson. If residents continue to get their vaccine, the mayor says, more and more openings will be on the horizon.
“With more and more things opening and the expectation of participating with everybody together, I think it’s more and more incumbent on you to get your vaccine, so that you’re taken care of,” Robinson said. “We’re not getting over COVID all the way; what we want to do is push COVID to become something like the common cold.”
At that point, says Robinson, what you would likely experience would be watered-down COVID symptoms similar to a bad cold. The numbers, he adds, appear to back that up.
“When you look at hospitalizations [and] mortality, those numbers have definitely, significantly come down since the Feb. time frame,” said the mayor. “We’ve seen more and more people getting vaccinated. To get vaccinated is one of the most important things that you could do for the community, for yourself. And I highly encourage you to do that.”
Elsewhere, the city of Pensacola’s work on reducing its carbon footprint rolls on. The Pensacola City Council recently voted for 30% renewable energy for city operations by 2030. Robinson said Monday that efforts have been underway, pointing to the unveiling of the city’s first two sunshades on Earth Day.
“We have another shade structure that is going up at Sanders Beach, and we have one that’s going to come here to City Hall,” said Robinson. “We are working on a number of projects there; I think nothing works better than a big parking lot that’s asphalt that has a lot of sun space and becomes a heat island [that] would be perfect for getting and collecting sun. So we’re certainly looking at that as much as we can do.”
Mark Jackson began work last June as the city’s Sustainability Coordinator position. Robinson says one of Jackson’s main jobs is reducing greenhouse gas emissions involving, among other things, city vehicles.
“A lot of which you see in our heavy fleet continuing to move more and more to natural gas; it sort of works for us,” the mayor said. “We also can supply our own natural gas, so we hope that will lead in the future to more opportunities, more vehicles. There are certainly a lot of electric vehicles, so we’ll continue to look at what we can to push down our greenhouse gas emissions.”
Some of that is expected to involve renewable energy, along with working with Pensacola Energy, the city-owned natural gas company. He also pointed to work by Gulf Power Company, which has replaced coal with natural gas at some plants – and construction of its solar farms in north Escambia County and elsewhere.
“We look to partner with them where we can, we’re also looking for opportunities to partner with the smaller providers of solar,” said Robinson. “And I know Mark [Jackson] is looking at all of those things. Talking with Mark, he feels confident that we can meet that 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”
The data on such emissions are still being collected, and the amount so far, says the mayor, is a little more than they had anticipated. He added that Mark Jackson is putting the city on the right path, and is expected to report to the City Council on plans to move forward on such a reduction.