Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson used a very short, weekly virtual news conference to discuss a potpourri of subjects.
In his roughly eight minutes of prepared script, the mayor updated the numbers on COVID-19 in the city and Escambia County – 2,809 positive cases, according to the state Health Department.
“The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations is at 116 as of July 5,” said Robinson. “For reference, there were 46 COVID-19 hospitalizations exactly one week ago.”
The coronavirus uptick has placed the city under a yellow alert – signaling an increase in its impact on first responders in the last three weeks.
“We’re observing and seeing how this is going to work; the biggest things we can ask you to do [are] wear a mask, socially distance, and wash your hands,” said the mayor. “Those three things are vitally important; if we can stay on those three things we’ll try to continue to push our numbers down.”
Last week, the City Council passed an emergency ordinance, mandating the use of face coverings at businesses inside the city limits. It’s identical to the order issued by Robinson week before last, but contains a fine schedule – $50 for first offense, then upward.
“I had to go several places Friday, and I was amazed at how many people – nearly everywhere I went – had masks,” said Robinson. “Every single place I went in, the employees – several of them pulled me aside and said, ‘Hey, I want to thank you for the ordinance, because I’ve been wearing masks here and I’ve been worried because nobody’s wearing masks to protect me.’”
Elsewhere, the mayor announced that the inaugural meeting of the Citizens’ Police Advisory Committee is set for Thursday at 5:30 pm in the City Council chamber. The panel comes from last year’s grand jury investigation into the fatal shooting of Tymar Crawford by a Pensacola police officer a year ago.
“This meeting is for organizational purposes only and the committee will not be taking any action, so there will not be an opportunity for public input,” the mayor said. “Opportunities for public input will be provided at future meetings where action will be taken. Plus we will be having probably some virtual town halls, where we will be taking input from the public.”
The live-streamed meeting can be accessed at www.cityofpensacola.com\video.
Meanwhile, the fencing around Lee Square downtown will remain up, closing the park to the public after vandals splashed paint on the Confederate monument there. The City Council meets July 14 to decide the statue’s future.
“We had planned to put those [fences] up this week, but obviously some of the things that happened last week, we felt like it was probably good to go ahead and put those up in advance,” Robinson said. “They will be up through the vote, and we’ll know what’s going to happen, one way or the other, on July 14.”
St. John’s Cemetery, where a number of Confederate soldiers are buried, has offered to place the monument on its grounds. Mayor Robinson also wants Lee Square — re-named for Robert E. Lee — to go back to its original name, Florida Square.