With America’s virulent relationship with COVID-19 entering its sixth month, leaders in many cities, including Jacksonville, are struggling to get people to take precautions.
Mayor Lenny Curry called a noon press conference Tuesday to “encourage” locals to wear masks, despite “COVID fatigue” that some may be experiencing.
The encouragement comes roughly six weeks after Curry issued a mask mandate, an aspirational directive with no apparent enforcement component.
Curry, who issued the mandate in absentia (he was on vacation that week), only issued the order after weeks of spiking positive tests, amid an ultimately fruitless bid to mitigate the virus in time to facilitate a full-occupancy Republican National Convention.
Now the convention isn’t coming, full occupancy or otherwise, with city leaders relieved because the logistics of the event proved daunting.
But with positive testing rates still closer to 10% than zero, and with 12 new deaths from the disease pushing the official toll to 210, the Mayor addressed the ongoing crisis, which saw 231 new cases and an 8.5% positive testing rate reported Wednesday morning for the previous 24 hours from the Florida Department of Health.
No end is in sight, Curry warned.
“The coronavirus has been spreading … it will spread as long as we don’t have a vaccine,” Curry said, before expressing condolences about coronavirus casualties.
“One death is tragic. It’s an individual, it’s a life, it affects family members. The reality is the virus is with us,” he added.
The call to “shut the city down,” Curry said, is “not an acceptable response,” while mask wearing is a “simple, easy, and effective way” to mitigate the virus.
Curry, who has said to “learn to live with the virus,” introduced a video Wednesday that showcased hospital executives’ testimonials on the need to mask up.
“The number of cases continues to trend in the right direction,” Curry said. “The rate of new cases and severity is not what it was, but we must not become complacent.”
Indeed, complacency clearly is a major concern.
The City of Jacksonville, Mayor @lennycurry and local hospital administrators want to remind everyone the importance of wearing a mask.
— City of Jacksonville (COJ) (@CityofJax) August 12, 2020