By Kylan Guerrier
COVID-19 affects black and brown communities disproportionately more than it affects white communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control, black and brown people have a higher chance of getting COVID-19 and also dying from the virus.
At Governor’s Square Mall in Tallahassee, some members of the security team are doing their part to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Many of the shoppers at the mall are black and brown people. Leon County has had a strict mask mandate that was announced on June 25, 2020.
Even with the mandate in place, some shoppers enter the mall without a mask to protect themselves or other shoppers. To combat this issue the security team at the mall walk around with boxes of masks and give them to shoppers who aren’t wearing one. Some security officers can even be seen giving out pumps of hand sanitizer.
Assistant Director of Security Ezul Salifu said it was the right thing to do.
“Andy Frain, the security company, came up with the idea,” Salifu said. “We felt it was generous to carry around masks and help out customers who didn’t have a mask because we don’t know their situation. Not everybody is aware about how serious the virus truly is or some don’t care about their safety. If we give out masks, we can reduce the chances of us getting it or people spreading this deadly virus.”
In many cities, which are often home to minorities, many residents lack access to health resources and health supplies. Cities across America still do not offer free rapid COVID-19 testing the way Bragg Stadium does here in Tallahassee on the campus of Florida A&M University.
As of today, Leon County has had 30,283 Covid-19 cases, with that number rising daily, according to the Florida Department of Health, Division of Disease Control and Health Protection.
Black and brown people make up about 35% of Tallahassee’s demographic and have experienced a disproportionate number of Covid 19-related hospitalizations and deaths. In Leon County, black residents have been 48% of hospitalizations and 36% of deaths, Claudia Blackburn, the Leon County health officer, recently told the local Coronavirus Vaccination Community Education and Engagement Task Force.
The move to have security hand out masks helps the stores in Governor’s Square Mall because most of the establishments don’t allow customers in their store without a mask for the safety of everyone.
Salifu says that COVID-19 has affected every aspect of the mall.
“It has affected my staff a lot,” Salifu said. “People have had to stop working for two weeks just from coming in contact with someone who had it. We’ve lost someone who was a part of my staff, and as you know it has affected the mall’s revenue. The mall does take care of the cost for these boxes of masks even though they’ve taken some losses since this pandemic has started.”