Mayor Discusses Laura, Marco, and COVID-19

Aug 24, 2020

Tropical Storm Laura's projected path as of Monday afternoon, Aug. 24, 2020
Credit National Hurricane Center

Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson used his weekly virtual news conference to urge residents to monitor the two storms out in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Marco has shifted west and we are out of the watch and warning areas for tropical storm-force winds; we’ll continue to see rain and some possible flooding,” said Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson, during his virtual news conference at midday Monday.

Spending a few moments on Laura and Marco, the mayor urged residents to stay on their guard as the storms are expected to move into the central and northwestern Gulf, and approach Louisiana and Texas.

“Obviously we’ve seen an amount of rain, and we don’t necessarily have storm surge,” said Robinson. “We do have some tidal that’s higher than normal, which could make some drainage in some of our lower-lying areas more challenging. If you’re going through some of the areas on the west side of downtown, we ask you to use caution, and realize we may have some flooding.”

While the Florida Panhandle is well out of the National Hurricane Center’s “forecast cone,” the mayor said this isn’t the time to let down your guard.

“Please continue to monitor Tropical Storm Laura; she’s still in the forecast,” said Robinson. “It is projected to go west of us, but at this point anything can change. There is one model that continues to bring it closer to us; so we ask that you continue to look.”

And Robinson adds that it shouldn’t take a couple of storms to remind people along the Gulf Coast that we’re about two weeks away from the peak of hurricane season.

Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson.
Credit City of Pensacola

“We want you to continue to make sure that you have your disaster kit and are well-stocked and that you know your evacuation zone at myescambia.com, said the mayor. “The city continues to stay in contact with county and the [Emergency Operations Center].”

On the other crisis – COVID-19 – health officials report almost 11,000 cases in Escambia County. Robinson said the numbers haven’t moved very much, but there is a glimmer of hope.

“We are actually seeing our numbers come down, and that’s a good thing,” Robinson said. “The last update from the state shows a 5.34% positive rate for Aug. 22; that follows 6.49 for Aug. 21, 7.93 for Aug. 20.”

Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Health reports 61 new positive COVID-19 cases, but no additional related deaths Monday in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

Challenges do remain, says the mayor, especially in the area of hospitalizations – still more than one hundred, but trending in the right direction. As of Sunday, the number was down to 137.

And as of Monday “schools are going back; if we show we can continue to stay open – and we can stay open with our masks – I think this is the most important thing we can do,” said the mayor.

“We want everybody to be open; we want our businesses to be open, we want schools to be open and we want to be able to see that we can open and handle it successfully without seeing our numbers go back up.”

And Robinson put in another plug to fill out your Census form online at my2020census.gov.  The deadline is Sept. 30.

“We really need you to complete it; it’s very important for money for both Escambia County and city of Pensacola that you fill this information out,” said Robinson. “It takes about 10 min. to complete; it just asks you where you were on Apr. 1, 2020. And if you could fill it out, let them know where you were, that’s a great thing for us.”

The city’s goal is 80% participation; currently it’s 65%, and 62% for Escambia County.