HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The impacts of the governor’s latest orders on COVID-19 restrictions are becoming clearer, though too soon for one Wesley Chapel woman.
“They want to look at it like the pandemic’s over. My mom just died a month ago of it,” said Chasity Price.
Price said her mother, 62-year-old Teresa Twist, died at the end of March after battling COVID-19.
“She did everything she was supposed to do. Washing, hand sanitizer, face masks, everything she was supposed to do other than get the shots. Which the vaccine didn’t become available to her until the day after she was admitted to the ICU,” Price said.
She said Twist was a teacher in Ocala. Price said she was legally blind and while she had asthma, it was under control. She continued teaching during the pandemic.
“She wasn’t meant to go, it wasn’t her time. Her last words were 'I have to fight this,'” said Price.
Now, Price is speaking out about the latest orders.
“The fact that we’re not wearing masks or that we’re not mandated to wear a mask is absurd. It’s absurd,” she said.
Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive orders suspend local COVID-19 emergency orders for government entities.
The governor, in part, pointed to vaccines in the reasoning for them.
“So my message is the vaccines protect you, get vaccinated, and then live your life as if you’re protected,” DeSantis said.
So we checked in with local counties on the vaccination efforts.
Pinellas County said it’s noticed demand falling at sites run with the Department of Health, though the vaccination numbers are rising. Hillsborough County officials also noted a declining vaccine interest.
“We were hoping to be a little higher up in the amount of folks vaccinated by now and it’s disappointing we don’t have those numbers, yet we want to certainly increase that. We want people to get re-energized. Earlier on it was very little vaccine and such a high demand and now we have a lot of vaccines and a lot less interest in the vaccine,” said Kevin Watler, the public information officer for the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County.
The department said about 31% of Hillsborough County residents 16 and older are fully vaccinated.
Watler said outreach efforts are continuing, including reaching out to organizations, campaigns, community conversations and the placement of dozens of road signs at major intersections this week to promote vaccine information.
“We’re doing everything we can to really try to encourage folks to get vaccinated,” he said.
But while the new orders set in, for Price, she hopes others keep taking precautions.
“It is not a joke. This is not the common cold. My mom had the flu many times this is not the flu. My mom was alive one week and gone the next month,” she said.