PENSACOLA, Fla.-- COVID-19 rates in the nation are seeing a mass uptick, with more harmful variants such as the Delta variant spreading all over the country. Florida has seen a surge in positive cases, currently ranking as the state with the most cases. As the numbers soar, many worry what the future may hold as public schools in Escambia County are set to resume in two weeks.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 48.46% of Floridians have been fully vaccinated. Among the mass increase of positive COVID-19 cases are heaps of misinformation when it comes to the viral disease and the vaccine.
Currently, in Escambia County, there are 113 hospitalizations for the disease. Just last year, local hospitals such as Ascension Sacred Heart and Baptist Hospital were overcrowded with infected patients and exhausted medical professionals. Local government officials, pastors and business owners have encouraged those that are able to take the vaccine, not only to protect themselves but to protect those around them as well.
Governor Ron DeSantis has made several controversial statements on the virus, recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and the vaccine in the past year. Most recently, however, he has encouraged taking the vaccine, pointing out the high number of hospitalizations being credited to mostly unvaccinated people.
“If you look at the people who are being admitted to hospitals, over 95 percent of them are either not fully vaccinated or not vaccinated at all,” DeSantis said during a news conference last Wednesday. “These vaccines are saving lives. They are reducing mortality.”
Despite his encouragement of taking the vaccine, DeSantis fiercely opposes the use of masks in schools. This decision could put Pensacola teachers, students and faculty in danger as classroom sizes and school activities remain as usual.
For those in the area that are skeptical about the safety of the vaccine can read about the legitimacy and safety of the vaccine from medical doctors Lisa Lockerd Maragakis and Gabor David Kelen with Johns Hopkins Medicine. Social media and notable public figures have spread disinformation about the security of the vaccine, but those that are curious should seek counsel from medical professionals such as Maragakis and Kelen or their primary care physician.
On Tuesday, the CDC updated their guidelines reinstating their recommendation for vaccinated individuals to wear masks in public indoor settings in addition to unvaccinated individuals who were already recommended to wear their masks in public spaces. Discretion for mask use in private businesses will be left up to the owners. Patrons in Pensacola may once again see doors to businesses branded with the “masks required” alert before entering.
Public debates about the personal choice to receive the vaccine have reached critical mass as the decision to refrain from being vaccinated is impacting others. Only time will tell how the resuming of schools this fall will impact local positive cases.
For those looking for vaccination centers in the Pensacola area, MyEscambia.com has provided a list of location sites offering the Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen vaccines.
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