Thanks to the high vaccination rate, the historic Black Jacksonville Church welcomes people back inside
JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – Members of Historic Mt. Zion-AME Church, located in the heart of downtown Jacksonville, has been holding Sunday services under the awning of the church parking lot since May.
And the move to the parking lot was a big step towards normalcy for church members who have been attending the service via Zoom and YouTube for more than a year.
“I don’t think anyone thought it would take that long, including me,” said church trustee Nathaniel Weston. “I thought we’d be gone for a few weeks, maybe a month.”
After months of adapting and learning new technologies, the congregation will now move back to the sanctuary on Sunday. The church has been taped to allow social distancing, hand sanitizer dispensers have been strategically placed throughout the vestibule, and Weston says each member will have their temperature tested at the door.
Perhaps the most important factor in returning to face-to-face services was vaccination and the willingness of the congregation to receive an injection. The pastor of historic Mt. Zion says most of its members have been vaccinated and medical clinicians have emphasized the importance of vaccination to community members.
“When we saw our bishop show it was safe, he got it and his wife got it, more people were happy with it, but most of the people I spoke to were ready to get it, and they Majority did, “Weston said.
Although most members of the mostly black community on Mt. Zion have been vaccinated, data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that vaccination rates among black people, especially black Americans, have lagged behind the overall rate in the country.
While over 51% of Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, fewer than 25% of black Americans have received at least one vaccination. CDC data shows that 32% of whites in the US received at least one dose, more than 33% of Asians received at least one dose, and 26% of Hispanics or Latinos received a vaccine. The CDC cites “persistent inequalities” such as poverty and access to health care as reasons why some racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
“There are people – I don’t know anyone in this community – but for some reason they’re not going to get the vaccine,” Weston said. “We feel like we emphasized that at this opening. We recommend everyone to keep wearing their masks. “
The Florida Division of Emergency Management and the Florida Department of Health reported that more than 82,000 people were vaccinated through churches and other locations in underserved communities. In addition, the department operated state-sponsored vaccination centers and mobile one-day vaccination events.
State officials say all state-sponsored vaccination centers will move to the local level on Friday June 25th. The state’s permanent vaccination centers, such as Regency Square Mall and Edward Waters College, will cease operations June 18. State pop-up vaccination centers across the state will also stop on June 25th. People who received their first doses at these sites before the sites closed will be referred to the county health department or pharmacies for their second dose.
At the federal level, President Joe Biden has announced a National Month of Action to meet his July 4th goal of more than 70% of Americans receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 syringe. According to the White House, four of the country’s leading childcare providers will offer free childcare to all parents who are vaccinated or recovering from a vaccination by July 4.
The White House also announced extended opening hours for pharmacies in the United States in June.
Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.