“I think it’s all pretty clear that we may be living with COVID-19 for a long time. This could be the new normal,” said Mayor Justin Bibb. “I wanted to make sure that we as a city had a very focused and clear strategy moving forward.”
Its roughly 25 members will meet weekly starting Wednesday and will be comprised of public health experts, hospital CEOs, elected officials, faith community members and others.
“I’m willing to make sure that my staff and myself as mayor, that we’re knocking on doors, going to churches, going to libraries, talking about the importance of getting vaccinated, talking about the importance of getting boosted and really to address a lot of the myths that exist with this pandemic,” Bibb said.
On Friday, the new mayor visited a vaccination site at the McCafferty Health Center on the city’s west side to meet with public health staff and leadership.
“To really get a good view on what’s working on the ground in our city to make sure we’re keeping our residents safe and healthy as we claw our way out of this pandemic,” Bibb said.
As of Monday, health officials say only 45% of Clevelanders are vaccinated.
“We see large numbers or larger than normal numbers here at the clinics in the past week which is excellent. There are more people coming out to get their first dose and boosters,” said Cleveland Dept. of Public Health Interim Director Brian Kimball.
But health officials say protecting yourself and others doesn’t end there.
“I think when people get vaccinated, they feel that they’re protected and don’t need to continue with some of the other safety measures, but it’s still very important to wear your mask, still very important to social distance,” said Dr. Karen Cooper, medical director at CDPH.
The mayor says this task force will be a compliment to work already being done at the county and state level, saying he will be in constant communication with the county executive and the governor.
“We’ve got to be real and honest about the importance of staying safe and healthy and our city can’t get back to work until we come out of this pandemic and I, as mayor, have to take the leadership role in doing that,” he said.
Bibb also said his administration will be very thoughtful and deliberate about having the right policies in place for the city’s employees to ensure their health and safety.