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COVID Still Declining In Leon, Elsewhere As State Works Through Vaccine Challenges

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Leon County’s COVID-19 positivity rate continues to fall. The county has recorded three cases of the U.K. coronavirus variant, and is on the lookout for a post-Super Bowl bump in infections. The Leon Health department’s Claudia Blackburn is also watching growing infections among young adults:

“We’re seeing cases that are disproportionally in 18-24 age group. about 30% of our cases are in that age group for the last several weeks, versus 17% of the population that age group occupies," she said during the weekly community update hosted by Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.

The decline mirrors what’s happening in most Florida communities. It comes after a surge on cases over the holidays. Leon County has vaccinated more than 60% of seniors over the age of 65, a figure that leads the state.

Yet the county's rate of vaccinating minority communities lags behind the overall figures. In Leon County, a third of residents are Black and 60% are White. But only 17% percent of eligible Black seniors have been vaccinated—still better than statewide figures. During the community forum, former city commissioner Elaine Bryant was critical of Gov. Ron DeSantis' use of grocery store and pharmacy partnerships to distribute vaccines, noting Publix, Sam's Club and Walmart are not in Black neighborhoods.

“Not only are there no Publix’s but there are no Walmart’s either," Bryant said, "and I have challenged many people who’ve said to me, ’well, you have a free ride on the bur right now to Publix…remember, that’s not anywhere where many African American’s shop. And because of that, it does not lend itself to being a trusted site.”

Over the weekend Florida A&M University announced it's been selected to host a COVID-19 vaccination site. The Historically Black University is located in a predominantly Black neighborhood.

The city is pushing ahead with a messaging campaign urging people to get vaccinated, and Bond Community Health Center says its seeing new patients as a result. Bond recently used its mobile center to administer vaccines in Westminster Oaks and will do so again at Miracle Hill.