Santiva Chronicle Staff Report
The number of COVID cases are decreasing in Florida as the vaccine continues to be administered. Mayor Mick Denham said in the Tuesday, March 2 City Council meeting the number of cases in the state are down by 50 percent since the peak in early January.
Similarly, there were 76 new COVID cases reported in January for Sanibel and 21 last month. The total number of cases for Sanibel reached 229 from March 2020 through February 2021. The island accounts for 0.4 percent of the 57,763 total cases in Lee County.
Denham reported the county had administered 117,401 vaccine doses as of Feb. 28, which is approximately 17 percent of the population. And more than 40 percent of those over the age of 65 have received the vaccine. Denham said that was the “good news.”
The bad news, he said, was his attempts to obtain approximately 100 vaccine doses for homebound residents have been unsuccessful. He called it a “personal disappointment.”
The Sanibel Fire & Rescue District is ready to help administer the vaccine, but needs approval from the Florida Department of Health. Councilman Richard Johnson said it was important to have a plan and be ready if approval is granted.
It was Denham’s final COVID update in his final council meeting after not seeking reelection. He encouraged the incoming council to continue his efforts of securing the vaccine for homebound residents and following Center for Disease Control guidelines.
“Social distancing, wearing a mask and avoiding large social gatherings help keep this terrible pandemic at bay,” he said.
The city continues to be under a declared state of emergency, which includes a mask mandate.
In other council business:
Council unanimously voted to sunset the temporary relaxation of commercial signs along the street. Businesses have until 8 a.m. Monday, March 8 to remove the signs. The vote also included approval on the temporary use of clear bulb lighting (using bulbs no larger than G30)for outdoor dining areas.
Childrens Education Center of the Island received unanimous approval from council for a special events permit to host a beach cleanup fundraiser on March 27.
Sundial Beach Resorts & Spa was denied a special events permit to host the Sanibel Music Festival proposed for March 23 and March 30. It was proposed for 100 guests outside near the resort’s tiki bar. Council expressed concerns over setting a precedent for beach events and other organizations that have reimagined their annual fundraisers.
Vice Mayor Holly Smith will work with city staff on drafting a letter to legislators over short-term rental properties. There are two bills – HB219 and SB522 – that could impact the rights of a city to regulate short-term vacation rentals. Sanibel is grandfathered in, but these bills could still have an impact.