A pastor in Jacksonville, Florida, has organized vaccine clinics after watching several congregants die from the virus.
Impact Church is a large church in Jacksonville, Florida, with a 67,000-foot facility and 6,000 attendees. According to Impact leadership, the church has had six of its members die in 10 days.
"It's definitely taken a toll on us," said Reverend George Davis, a bishop at Impact, told a local outlet. "Some of them have been extremely close to us. And to watch some of these people in the prime of their life."
According to Davis, vaccine hesitancy was common among his attendees. Some shared false information about the vaccine, while others expressed a high level of distrust for local officials and their recommendations. Despite Davis' attempts to seek compromises and to cooperate with local authorities, the congregation was extremely resistant.
It wasn't until the congregation felt the virus' effects directly that the reverend decided to begin organizing local vaccine drives after their services. Davis partnered with local medical officials to host three vaccine clinics after services.
Davis told the Washington Post that the first of these clinics vaccinated more than 200 people. He anticipates similar turnout rates in the future. According to Davis, his parishioners, many of whom are Black, feel more comfortable attending a clinic at their local church than at a government site.
Florida has been suffering from a severe increase in infections in recent weeks. The Tampa Bay Times reports that Florida has suffered more than 100,000 COVID-19 infections and 616 deaths during the week of August 2nd.