ORLANDO, Fla. – As the state of Florida has seen more than 50,000 people die from COVID-19, an Orlando city commissioner is holding a community vigil Tuesday evening to acknowledge those many lives lost.
“Behind every number, there’s a name,” Commissioner Bakari Burns said. “COVID is with us, but we have to do what we can to prevent it and to keep our families healthy.”
The event is at Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church at 6 p.m. Prior to the event, there will be free testing and vaccines on hand beginning at 4:30 p.m.
According to the Florida Department of Health, of the 70% of eligible Floridians vaccinated, 49% of all white Floridians have the vaccine, compared to nearly 32% of all Black Floridians.
Maggie Gaines, a business consultant In Sanford, said she knows firsthand that getting the COVID-19 vaccine is crucial and a lifesaver. he recently tested positive for COVID-19 but has thankfully recovered.
“My experience with COVID is not one I would wish on anyone,” Gaines said. “I had the chills, I had the fever, I had the body aches.”
She said at first, she didn’t want the vaccine.
“To be honest, I didn’t know what was in it. I felt like it came about pretty quickly,” Gaines said.
But now, after contracting the virus, she and her husband are getting vaccinated, and she believes everyone should get the shot. She said she wishes she would have gotten the vaccine sooner.
“We have to protect everybody. You may have a grandma, your children who are not able to get vaccinated. Please get me vaccinated,” Gaines said.
Meka Davis said her mom, Dr. Sheila Spencer, fought for weeks in the hospital. The well-known senior pastor from Time of Refreshing Christian Worship Center in Lockhart died in August after testing positive for COVID-19, according to family.
“The day she went in, they say they don’t even know how she was still alive,” Davis said. “She went into the hospital the same day as she was scheduled for the vaccination.”
Davis said at first she and her mom were both hesitant when it came to getting the vaccine, but their minds changed.
“I was ignorant enough in the beginning, and I was in that crowd that said, ‘oh I’m not putting that in my body, I don’t know what it is,’” Davis said.
She said the vaccine is a game-changer and a lifesaver.
“Let’s just not rely on our friends and family members who are not educated in that field, but let’s grab a hold of knowledge and make educated decisions about our lives.”