Escambia County’s COVID Crisis

On Monday, June 29, Escambia County had only 18 employees that were positive for COVID-19 – eight in Corrections and nine in Public Safety.

As of Wednesday, July 15, the county has 61 employees infected with the virus – an increase of 239%.

Missing from the current snapshot is Deputy Administrator and Natural Resources Director, Chips Kirschenfeld, whom multiple sources have told Inweekly has tested positive. The County COVID-19 snapshot lists one person in Natural Resources awaiting test results, but we’ve been told his positive test has been known by the county administrator since Monday.

Inweekly sent an email to Kirschenfeld this morning asking him to confirm the positive test result.

According to the snapshot, no one in the county administrator’s office is awaiting test results. We don’t know if any one in Gilley’s office has been tested since positive cases began surging in county government.

Several employees are wondering – behind Janice Gilley’s back – whether the county administrator has been tested and is keeping the results away from the commissioners.

Alabama & WalMart 

Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday issued her 14th supplemental emergency proclamation containing an amended Safer at Home Order that included a statewide mask requirement. Individuals will be required to wear a mask or other facial covering when in public and in close contact with other people, as described in the order. This amended order extends until 5 p.m. on July 31.

According to its dashboard, Alabama has 58,225 confirmed COVID cases – 18,717 in the past 14 days.  Florida has 301,810 COVID cases – 141,341 among Florida residents in the past 14 days.

Alabama has 1,183 confirmed deaths year-to-date.  Florida has 971 deaths in just July.

Yesterday, WalMart announced: “To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering starting Monday, July 20. This will give us time to inform customers and members of the changes, post signage and train associates on the new protocols.”

People have begun to ask whether Gov. Ron DeSantis will bailout Escambia County Administrator Janice Gilley by ordering mandatory face masks statewide. To date. the only COVID-19 restriction that the county has done is a 30-day closure of area beaches –  and that was done by the commissioners not based on recommendation from the administrator but instead from local hospitals.

We’re not so sure DeSantis will follow Alabama’s lead. Yesterday Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has banned Georgia’s cities and counties from ordering people to wear masks in public places. He voided orders on Wednesday of at least 15 local governments.

Herd Immunity

Some have speculated that County Administrator Janice Gilley hasn’t  been concerned about the COVID cases and deaths in her county because of a belief in herd immunity.

What’s herd immunity?

From John Hopkins:  “When most of a population is immune to an infectious disease, this provides indirect protection—or herd immunity (also called herd protection)—to those who are not immune to the disease.

“For example, if 80% of a population is immune to a virus, four out of every five people who encounter someone with the disease won’t get sick (and won’t spread the disease any further). In this way, the spread of infectious diseases is kept under control. Depending how contagious an infection is, usually 70% to 90% of a population needs immunity to achieve herd immunity.”

Mississippi’s Republican governor, Tate Reeves, says, “I’ve listened to some people argue that the rapid spread of cases is a good thing, and we need to reach herd immunity in Mississippi and elsewhere to survive. I’m not a health care expert by any means, but I am a math guy.”

He pointed out to reach a threshold of just 40% that the state of 3 million people would need need 3,187 new cases every day for a full year  – which would be a rate triple the state’s current worst daily total.
“Herd immunity is not anything like a realistic solution in the short or mid-term,” said Reeves. “I wish it was.”
Let’s try Reeves’ formula.
Per 2019 US Census estimate, Escambia County has 311,522 people – 40% is 124,608.  As of yesterday, the county had 4137 Florida residents have contracted the virus.
To reach the 40% threshold, Escambia would need 120,291 more people to contact the virus – 330 per day for a year. Based on the current surge in cases, that isn’t impossible.
However, our percentage of deaths for all COVID cases is 1% – we could have another 1,202 deaths or 383 per 100,000. That would make COVID the third largest cause of death in Escambia County.  In 2019, the flu claimed only 56 lives per 100,000.
Top 10 Causes of Death for Escambia County in 2019, according to FDOH – per 100,000 people:




1 thought on “Escambia County’s COVID Crisis

  1. Wow. I sincerely hope that he’s okay. :(

    Just when you think Gilley’s cover-up can’t get any worse. So because she didn’t report it, County staff, the dais, and our constitutional officers have no idea what the time frame on his positive is.

    Did she let any of the commissioners know? Doubtful. Were any of them in close proximity with him–or anyone else–that turned out to be positive, and that they don’t know about?

    Where is the contact tracing?

    Why doesn’t Gilley care enough about the commissioners she serves, and the staff she oversees, to inform them about a virus that could be deadly to them and their families?

    What else isn’t she reporting?

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