COVID Escambia: Positivity rate 22 percent, new record for hospitalizations, no vax for teachers

According to the Florida Department of Health, Escambia County ‘s positivity rate yesterday was 22.45% based on 891 test results reported for Monday, Jan. 5.  We also added three more deaths yesterday.

The hospitalizations as of this morning are 267 – up 19 from Monday’s daily record, according to the county’s dashboard. Baptist reports no adult ICU beds available; Ascension Sacred Heart 11, West Florida Hospital and Speciality Hospital one each.

Hospitals are treating COVID patients in wings and units set aside for COVID. Inweekly reached out to all three hospitals this morning.

Kendrick Doidge, West Florida Hospital’s vice president of business and public relations, said his leadership team meets each morning to discuss the COVID census, and while the surge in cases has surpassed the summer’s outbreak, he doesn’t believe the hospital is at a crisis level yet.

“We have the capacity to handle a surge, but we are concerned with the increase in cases since Thanksgiving,” said Doidge, “and what appears to be a fatigue among the public to follow the CDC guidelines.”

Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson expressed his frustration that Gov. Ron DeSantis would not give the authority to local government to implement measures to reduce COVID’s spread in the community.

“In Northwest Florida, we ought to be able to make these decisions based on what our conditions are,” said Mayor Robinson.

County Commissioner Lumon May has tried several times to get his fellow board members to enact a mask ordinance but has failed to get a second.

Doidge told Inweekly that West Florida Hospital does have the ability to convert beds to COVID patients and still has rooms available to do so. The hospital administration has daily conversations on which units to move to COVID care and identifying staff to care for those COVID patients.

Meanwhile, Gov. DeSantis on Monday said teachers and school staff should not expect to be prioritized for vaccination against COVID-19, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices lists teachers and school employees as part of roughly 30 million “frontline essential workers” who should be prioritized for vaccinations.

Ryan Dailey of The News Service of Florida reports DeSantis is relying on a yet-to-be-approved single-dose vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson, expected to be released in the first months of the year, as part of a broader inoculation program for Florida’s work force.

“The average person under 65 in our workforce has been in less risk than our senior population to COVID. So we’re going where the risk is greatest. We’re going where we can have the most impact on saving lives,” the governor said Monday.



3 thoughts on “COVID Escambia: Positivity rate 22 percent, new record for hospitalizations, no vax for teachers

  1. Lars, don’t forget about the PNJ’s months-long banner headline about the legal risks of Florida teenagers having sex. It has been up there for such an eternity that my mind registers it as spam advertising now. I just have no idea what the ad is for.

    So many people second your gratitude for Rick for being willing to do this hard work for months on end while the PNJ plays its typical politics for downtown. From my Facebook share of Rick’s hospitalization coverage yesterday:

    Nothing to see here and no worries folks, as our local hospital administrators have assured us repeatedly that a full ICU is a well-run ICU.
    I just scanned the Pensacola News Journal and it looks like, at least for now, their schizophrenia with cherry picking some people and events to chastise over covid and encouraging others to spread it at will has been put on pause. All of the gushing articles about piling everybody downtown have been removed from the electronic version for the moment that I can see. I hope Lisa Nellessen Savage keeps that locked down from here on out until we get through this brutal coming wave.
    In the meantime I just encouraged my 65+ older Facebook friends who are still desperately trying to get selected–because that’s what it is, calling a spade a spade–for vaccination to just keep checking here early and often. It’s the best place anybody can go for the most up-to-the-minute straight dope. We wouldn’t have any idea what the hell has been going on the last few months if it weren’t for this blog. I’m grateful for it, and to be able to contribute to discussions and information sharing here, because God knows there isn’t a lot of encouragement of citizen awareness or transparency happening most places in this County or State right now.

  2. Above we read, “Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson expressed his frustration that Gov. Ron DeSantis would not give the authority to local government to implement measures to reduce COVID’s spread in the community.” Local governments “have” the authority. The issue is if the Florida Legislature gave the Governor a power to endanger public health.
    I doubt it. Specific to enforcement of the mask ordinance, this is what it says in the Plan for Florida’s Recovery released by Governor Ron DeSantis that Mayor Robinson seems not to have read, “Face masks are recommended and local governments are still able to maintain or pass local mask ordinances.” That seems pretty clear to me even if Mayor Robinson is confused. Governor DeSantis is in town today. Did Mayor Robinson ask him what that sentence means? If not, why not? The city’s mask ordinance has three parts. Governor DeSantis did not address two of them imposing requirements upon businesses so there is no question that they can be enforced. That said, they have never been enforced since the mask ordinance went into effect on June 30. To be clear, Mayor Robinson was not enforcing the city’s mask ordinance “before” Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-244. That fact helps focus the blame where it belongs on Mayor Robinson not Governor DeSantis. The third part of the mask ordinance has multiple parts. Governor DeSantis has suspended collection of fines and imposition of penalties. Although the City Council carefully avoided clearly putting this fact in the mask ordinance, a fourth violation can lead to jail time. However, nothing is stopping the city from issuing citations to individuals. Think of it as a public warning. Copies could be posted online and given to businesses where the citation was issued. This issue is not going away anytime soon. Even if Governor DeSantis declares victory over COVID-19 later this year and says the pandemic is over, the city can keep the mask ordinance in place, and do more such as requiring businesses to have their employees vaccinated. In addition to the broad powers exercised by a city government, and they are vast if largely unknown in Pensacola, a specific state law expressly allows local governments to adopt public health ordinances and regulations unless preempted by the Department of Public Health, the “department” not the Governor. As for Governor DeSantis’ poorly written Executive Order 20-244, it may not hold up in court if a local government challenged it. If Mayor Robinson wanted to show leadership, he could direct City Attorney Susan Woolf to file a lawsuit challenging Executive Order 20-244’s preemption of Ordinance 15-20.

  3. Thanks so much for reporting all the COVID info. Even though it is frightening and unpleasant, it is necessary.
    The News Journal seems to have discontinued the bad news section of the paper.
    Worse than that, they promote New Years eve parties, polar bear dips and any other large gatherings of people. They seem to act as an extension of the chamber of commerce. Minimal mention of people getting sick, only new restaurants opening and expensive houses with water views for sale.
    What a gift to the community.

Comments are closed.