A local teenager is the first to take part in Children’s Hospital clinical trial for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

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There could be an explosion of confirmed cases of the virus following the holiday season.

Local officials in Tallahassee are nervous about the next few months and how public health will be affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

With national cases rising and local numbers beginning to rise, the concern is twofold: There could be an explosion of confirmed cases of the virus following the holiday season, and pandemic fatigue may cause people to loosen up on their personal safety protocols.  

“There is a perception that people might be able to relax or let their guard down and that could not be further from the truth,” County Commission Chairman Rick Minor said during a meeting with Mayor John Dailey, Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna and School Board Chair Joy Bowen on Monday.

The quarterly mayor-chair meeting emphasized the coming months when eviction moratoriums are set to end and, as the prevalence of coronavirus continues to increase, what that could mean locally. 

“We really have to remain vigilant,” Minor said. “We can’t let our guard down.”

Hanna, who spoke just moments before Gov. Ron DeSantis announced all public schools must remain open for in-person instruction during the spring semester, said so far only 140 students and 80 LCS employees had tested positive for the virus.

More: By the numbers: Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Leon County Schools

He advocated to allow families to continue to make the decision whether to have their kids attend virtual classes and, when the time comes, that teachers should be among the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

“Essential workers, teachers, need to be at the top of the list at the opportunity for a vaccination as soon as one becomes available,” Hanna said. 

More: Pointing to closing ‘blunder,’ DeSantis says schools will bring struggling students back in-person

County Administrator Vince Long said roughly 1,400 Leon residents were being tested for COVID-19 daily. On the economic front, he said $7.5 million in federal assistance had been paid out to individuals and more than $12 million had been paid to hundreds of small businesses.

Another $11 million in federal CARES Act money had been secured last week and the county was looking to reactivate its emergency assistance program.

Dailey said he is dialing back in-person meetings on his calendar and, for the remaining public meetings for the year, has asked for a smaller staff. Although City Hall is open for meetings, Dailey encouraged the public to participate virtually to limit the number of people in an enclosed space.

“I’m getting nervous just watching what’s going on across the country and across the state of what potentially could happen here in this community with numbers skyrocketing,” Dailey said. “We know the Thanksgiving holidays had the potential to be a superspreader. We will wait and see.”

Dailey asked for clarity on what the dissemination of a vaccine could look like or what network was being set up as communities switch from testing to vaccination. The county will take the leading role in setting up that network in conjunction with the state.

“We’ve been hearing ‘the vaccine is coming, the vaccine is coming,’ but have we really talked about what the logistics look like locally?” Dailey asked. 

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Monday’s local numbers

Leon County has seen a total of 14,558 residents test positive for COVID-19 since state health officials began publicly tracking the virus in March. 

Two more Leon residents, one Gulf resident and one more Jackson residents also have died because of the virus, the Florida Department of Health reported on Monday. 

State health officials organize case and death data by an individual’s county of residence, which may not be where they were when they tested positive for the virus or died. 

To date, 141 Leon residents have died because of COVID-19, 19 Gulf residents and 90 Jackson residents. 

Local hospitalizations 

Local healthcare officials reported 40 people were in the hospital on Monday, positive for COVID-19:

  • Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare reported 16 inpatients were positive for the virus.
  • Capital Regional Medical Center reported 24 inpatients were positive for the virus. 

Neither hospital tracks the number of people who are considered to have recovered from the virus. 

Contact CD Davidson-Hiers at 850-631-0958, or [email protected]. Twitter: @DavidsonHiers. 

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