Newberry gearing up to hold vaccine walk this weekend

The Rotary Club of Gainesville and Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe are teaming up this weekend to get the word out about COVID-19 vaccine efficacy and registration.

T.J. Pyche, a Rotary Club board member, said he reached out to Marlowe about the event because his fiancee’ attended Newberry High School where Marlowe teaches history.

“We got involved with some of the reconciliation work with Marlowe,” said Pyche, who works as a communications manager for the Gainesville Supervisor of Elections office.

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“It’s a good thing to do not only on Gainesville but in Newberry as well,” Pyche said about the outreach effort. He said volunteers will go door to door starting at 2 p.m. Saturday to deliver UF Health’s vaccine efficacy and safety information. Volunteers will meet at Oak View Middle School and then split up to canvas the city.

The goal is to not only inform residents about the COVID-19 vaccine, but also assist with getting people signed up to receive it as well.

“In case they have a barrier, we’ll help them sign up,” Pyche said.

In Gainesville, he organized an event two weeks ago and had 40 people knock on 500 doors.

“The goal is even if we get one additional person who may not have been able to to sign up and now they can enjoy some of the freedoms of being vaccinated,” Pyche said.

Some volunteers in the effort are health care professionals, but anyone is welcome to contact Pyche to help out by emailing or calling 352-467-9865.

“It’s a relatively easy way to get the community together to do something important,” Pyche said. “Lots of people are vying for a finite resource, so it’s not simple,” he said.

Marlowe announced the event at the Monday night planning and zoning meeting and encouraged residents to contact him with questions.

“I get my vaccine education Friday night,” he said. “And we will start to help people register and get on waiting lists.”

The City of Newberry Commission opted out of the Alachua County Emergency Order early on in the pandemic because they stated that the face mask requirement could not be enforced. Many Newberry businesses also opted to not enforce any face mask wearing rules for employees or customers.

As of March 2, Alachua County has reported 22,371 cases of COVID-19, 1,025 hospitalizations and 234 deaths. According to the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard, the 32669 Zip code, which includes the City of Newberry and adjacent areas such as Jonesville, has had 1,136 reported cases of the virus.

Several Newberry City Hall employees and Newberry Commissioner Ricky Coleman contracted COVID-19 since the pandemic started. Coleman has been absent from attending meetings and has been excused indefinitely from his attendance since being hospitalized for battle with COVID-19 since early January.

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