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Community members look ahead to Leon County Commission Special Meeting addressing COVID-19

Posted at 6:33 PM, Sep 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 18:33:05-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Leon County Commissioners will hold a special meeting where the commission will look at "all viable options ...to reduce the spread."

Community leader Whitfield Leland feels now is the time to address how the pandemic is impacting the county. Leland wrote a letter to elected commissioners and health leaders, asking for more mitigation to the spread of the virus.

"We're going to kind of push. At the end of the day, the numbers are high. If we can't mandate vaccines, we should mandate masks," said Leland. "We can mandate masks in school, but when the kids leave school and they go into public places and we don't have a mask mandate, we're really not helping them."

It's not just masks that Leland is advocating for. He wants to dispel misinformation through more community conversations with frontline workers and hopefully educate more about the vaccine.

"Let's educate and let's actually sit down and give these numbers. Explain what it means, and have had an opportunity where people that's vaccinated, unvaccinated can ask real-time, real-life questions," he proposed.

Last Friday Commissioner Kristin Dozier requested that a meeting like this one happen. This week, the commission received an update on how COVID is impacting the community including its impact on Emergency Medical Services.

In the last five weeks, calls increased 25 percent compared to the same time span last year.

EMS Chief Chad Abrams says with so many calls coming in, the staff is stretched thin responding to each one. Now they feel this meeting will protect their employees and the people they serve.

"The closer we could get to the end of the pandemic, the better we all are. We certainly see the impacts of multiple people calling us with COVID-related illness. It impacts our system whenever that call volume creeps up for whatever reason," said Chief Abrams.

Abrams says in the last week, calls have started to level off, but his team is feeling the strains of COVID-19.

"It's been much busier than what it has been in the past," said the EMS Chief. "The frustrating part for our people out there providing services is when they see young, healthy people who are very sick with COVID. Something that seems to be preventable."

Now Abrams is asking for help getting more vaccines out.

"What would be helpful to us in dropping that call volume would be we could see COVID drop off. if people got vaccinated, take care of themselves. it would be great for us to limit that call volume and get back to people who are sick."

The meeting is on September 7 at 6 p.m. in the Leon County Commission Chambers.