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COVID-19 delta variant, vaccines, avoiding misinformation spotlight pastor’s town hall

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The top doctors in Jacksonville who are working on the front lines fighting COVID-19 got together virtually Wednesday night to address the many issues surrounding the delta variant.

Pastor John Newman of the Sanctuary at Mount Calvary Church hosted a town hall. The conversation addressed the rising cases of COVID-19 in children, the confusion over COVID symptoms and fighting misinformation.

“This is an extremely important time in the African American Community. Thirteen percent of the country, yet we wind up being 25% of the COVID deaths,” Newman said. “And so without question it is critical that our community be addressed as it relates to the COVID situation, particularly the delta variant.”

Dr. Tra’Chella Johnson Foy is with Baptist Health. She says she meets many patients who regret not getting vaccinated.

“I have a lot of criers now who are like, ‘I wish I had.’ And that’s what we want to avoid,” Johnson Foy said. “If you can do what you can do now, go ahead and get vaccinated now so we are not having the ‘I wish I had’ conversation for you or any of your loved ones.”

Tom Diamond II is a medical student who spoke at the town hall. He spoke about the harm not only of the virus, but misinformation being online.

“As a community, we are not only having to face the effects of COVID in the physical form, but we are also facing the misinformation on social media,” Diamond said. “We get our information so fast in our hands on our phones, and it’s hard for people who know the science, who know the correct information that can help patients to combat what’s happening on social media in real time to what’s actually happening in the real world.”

The doctors discussed how angry and frustrated they are knowing that many deaths caused by the delta variant are preventable.

Florida reported 19,048 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday -- the highest in four days, according to numbers posted Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Florida has had nearly 3.27 million COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started in early 2020.