by Jeremy Morrison, Inweekly
Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said Monday he’d been keeping an eye on the storms in the gulf — tropical storms Marco and Laura — but that it appears the Florida panhandle will avoid the brunt of the weather.
“Usually it’s COVID that we’re talking about, but we’re gonna switch to our tropical storms,” Robinson said, opening his weekly presser on a different note.
As of Monday morning, Tropical Storm Marco was weakening as it neared Louisiana, though its wind and rain were still blanketing areas east, including Pensacola. Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Laura lingered just south of Cuba threatening to bloom into a hurricane as it enters the Gulf of Mexico.
“It’s projected to go west of us, but at this point anything could change,” Robinson said of Laura, which is projected to become a Category 2 hurricane in the warm waters of the gulf. “We’d love to see it dissipate and go away much the way Marco has.”
The mayor noted that people in the Pensacola area should expect to see heavy rains and some amount of flooding from this pair of storms, particularly in low-lying areas like downtown.
“We ask you to use caution and realize we might have some flooding,” he said, adding that peak-hurricane season still awaited on the horizon.
Insofar as the area’s COVID status goes, Mayor Robinson optimistically framed a still-worrisome situation.
“We haven’t moved much,” he said. “We’re actually seeing our numbers come down, and that’s a good thing.”
Currently, there are 10,832 coronavirus cases in Escambia County. Of those, 9,865 are local residents. Statewide, the current positivity rate is 5.34 percent.
The main number Mayor Robinson has stressed on a weekly basis is the number of people hospitalized due to COVID. In Escambia, that number has been steadily, if slowly tracking down.
At the end of last week, the number of hospitalizations fell from 163 to 150. That stat continued to drop over the weekend and currently sits at 137 people.
If numbers continue to drop, the mayor said, it would mean a sooner return to some form of normalcy, where businesses like restaurants would be able to progress further toward opening at full capacity.
While focusing on the falling COVID numbers, Mayor Robinson also stressed caution and urged people to practice basic safety measures, like wearing masks, hand washing and social distancing.
“I think everybody’s concerned about what’s going to happen, schools are going back today,” Robinson said.