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Monday, September 27, 2021

Emergency Management director touts Marion County’s battle against COVID-19

Preston Bowlin

COVID-19 vaccinations are continuing at a rapid clip in Marion County, with 57 percent of the seniors living in the county receiving doses against the deadly virus.

That’s according to Preston Bowlin, director of Marion County Emergency Management, who spoke to the County Commission on Tuesday morning. Bowlin said Marion County recently had been behind in vaccinating seniors, with just 41 percent having received doses. That was because the county has such a high population of seniors and it prompted Gov. Ron DeSantis to send Marion County 6,500 additional doses, many of which were administered at a drive-through site at the On Top of the World retirement community earlier this month.

Thanks to that boost of vaccine doses, Marion County has jumped significantly in the number of seniors vaccinated and ranks 17th highest of the 67 counties in Florida, Bowlin said.

As of Wednesday, 20.6 percent of Marion County residents – 75,010 – had received COVID-19 vaccine doses. Of those, 43,326 had received the complete vaccine, with 31,684 receiving the first dose and awaiting their second shot, Florida Health Department statistics show.

On Tuesday, 1,511 doses were administered throughout Marion County. Of those, 1,293 were first doses and 218 were completed vaccines.

Bowlin told commissioners that he and Mark Lander, administrator of the Department of Health in Marion County, will now rotate attending meetings to brief commissioners on the status of the battle against COVID-19. That prompted Commissioner Craig Curry to offer praise for both men and to tell Bowlin how much he is appreciated, since Lander usually is the one talking in the press about the efforts against the deadly virus.

“Emergency management is a team sport,” Bowlin replied, adding that no one agency alone can handle the fight against the Coronavirus.