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County gets COVID-19 update, addresses homeless issue at commission meeting

Leon County commissioners discussed everything from COVID-19 to homelessness in the Big Bend.
Posted at 11:45 PM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 23:45:33-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Leon County commissioners discussed everything from COVID-19 to homelessness in the Big Bend.

Leon County department of health director Claudia Blackburn briefing the commission, saying they have seen a decline in positivity rates and cases daily in the past two weeks.

Making it even more important for them to keep reaching people, especially those in minority communities.

Blackburn says 73-percent of the county's senior population has been vaccinated.

Noting that when it comes to those most impacted by COVID-19, the majority of those in the hospital with the virus are African American.

She says despite their efforts offering vaccination sites at churches and other places in the community, they are still struggling to get African Americans vaccinated.

"Only 13-percent of those vaccinated are black and only 40- percent of blacks 65 and over have been vaccinated so we still have a significant gap to fill in terms of the numbers of African Americans getting vaccinated," said Blackburn.

Blackburn says with the expansion of the eligibility of the vaccine she hopes that more people will get vaccinated.

Commissioners also tackled homelessness saying the issue is growing in our community.

"What are our city and county leaders doing to address the issue," said Whitfield Leland.

Leland lives in Tallahassee and like many in Leon County, he's has noticed an increase in the homeless population over the past year.

Nearly 200 people are living unsheltered in the Tallahassee area.

Now, county leaders are looking at ways to help.

"With new COVID relief funds coming might there be an opportunities for us to take a look at using some of those funds to address some of the homelessness in our community," County commission chair Rick Minor asked Tuesday.

The Kearney Center is one of the main shelters operating in the county.

Commissioners recognized the strain they've been put under.

"We are concerned about those citizens to the point to where in our meeting tonight we voted to convene a workshop with the city and members of the Leon County School Board all elected officials to come together," said Commissioner Carolyn Cummings.

The Kearney has spent almost 3-million dollars serving the people experiencing homelessness since last year.

Housing clients in hotel rooms to meet the growing demand.

With no clear solution right now;

"We've got to take giant steps thinking outside of the box so that we can bring some relief," said Cummings.

Commissioners say they have to act soon before an already big issue gets worse.