Hospital CEOs send letter to commissioners in support of limited beach reopening

Coronavirus

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — The presidents and CEOs of the three Pensacola hospitals wrote a letter to the Escambia and Santa Rosa County commissions stating they believe it is fine to reopen beaches with some limitations.

“We’re seeing a plateauing,” Baptist Health Care CEO Mark Faulkner said. “We’re seeing the beginnings of a downward trend.”

Faulkner said the community has done a good job of flattening the curve. He virtually joined Escambia County Commissioner Jeff Bergosh during his 36th “Coffee With A Commissioner” Wednesday morning. Faulkner said the hospitals are in good shape and haven’t been overwhelmed and they don’t expect that to happen. He said they believe it’s time to start easing some restrictions, including at the beach.

“We feel like we’re in a better spot to reopen based on some conditions… we certainly don’t want to see groups doing all this nonsense… we want to make sure that’s enforceable,” Faulkner said.

Okaloosa County public beaches are opening May 1 with limitations on hours. Santa Rosa County commissioners will make a decision Thursday and Escambia County will make a decision Tuesday.

Both counties have been sent a letter from Faulkner signed by him and the other CEOs of Ascension Sacred Heart and West Florida Hospital. In the letter, they state the counties can reopen beaches but everyone should continue social distancing.

There are still many who say beaches should not reopen just yet.

“It’s too soon at this point,” Daniel Uhlfelder said.

Uhlfelder is an attorney in the Santa Rosa Beach area. On his Twitter, he announced he ordered a grim reaper costume. He plans to send a message by wearing it to several Florida beaches if they reopen.

“I think once the word gets out that the beaches are open then it’s going to be a huge petri dish of people coming from Ohio or New York because everybody’s out of school,” Uhlfelder said.

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