TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Governor’s Office and the Department of Health are pushing back against claims of disproportionate outcomes for Black residents in Florida.
Now, a prominent Black pastor is calling Florida’s vaccine rollout a model for the nation.
307 small crosses were on display at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church on Friday, marking the first anniversary of the first COVID-19 death in the State Capitol.
“Death is death,” said Reverend RB Holmes.
Holmes has been leading a statewide effort of Black pastors to vaccinate members of their communities.
We asked if there is an impression that Florida is doing worse at protecting Black residents from the virus.
“Well, the data does not say that,” said Holmes.
State data shows the mortality rate for Black residents in Florida is 149.5 per 100,000.
The death rate for Black citizens nationally is 215 per 100,000.
“We’re doing thirty percent better actually. So mortality rates are thirty percent lower amongst Black Floridians when you compare us to the national Black mortality rate,” said Florida Deputy Secretary for Health Shamarial Roberson.
Reverend Holmes says Florida can be a national leader.
“The Governor decided to open up and work with churches to do pop-up clinics in African American communities. I think that has moved the needle,” said Holmes.
And the state told us the pausing of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will have no impact on vaccinating Black Floridians.
In total, more than 520,000 Black Floridians have received at least one vaccine dose, but a reluctance is slowing the vaccination rate.
Rev. Holmes said he hopes to have shots in 70% of the arms of Black residents by the end of 2021 or early 2022.
The mortality rate for white Floridians is 150.5 per 100,000, slightly higher than the rate for Black Floridians.