“Without the COVID vaccines, we cannot see any other viable solution out of this pandemic,” Mayor Evelio Leonardia told a group of some 90 pastors of various religious groups in Bacolod City during a virtual dialog on Monday, April 12.
Leonardia, together with Vice Mayor El Cid Familiarian, Congressman Greg Gasataya, City Administrator Em Ang, and other officials of the Bacolod City Emergency Operations Center, met with these church leaders to brief them on the current COVID situation and the vaccination plans of the city once the vaccines become available within the third quarter of this year.
“Please remind your congregations that COVID-19 is still with us. It is growing even more infectious everyday. There is greater need now to observe more carefully the prescribed health protocols, to avoid mass gatherings, and to get vaccinated once the vaccines are here,” the mayor said.
He also presented to them the containment efforts taken since the pandemic started and the huge costs to the government in fighting this pandemic.
In particular, he mentioned that the city has prepared P300 million of local funds for the vaccination program and narrated the difficulties encountered in negotiating for a sizable quantity of the vaccines for the city considering its limited supply and the demand for it from all over the country.
In his presentation, Leonardia also spoke of how hard the city government worked to flatten the curve of infections last year, and thanked the pastors for their cooperation in complying with mandated health protocols that greatly helped in reducing COVID cases from the previous high average of 87 cases per day in September 2020 to an average of only two cases per day in February 2021.
However, starting March 26 this year, the situation suddenly changed.
“In the last two weeks, the number of cases in Bacolod has increased by over 400 percent. That is very alarming!” he said. “Among the 61 barangays in Bacolod, only 27 barangays –or 44 percent—are left with no active COVID-19 cases. I have reminded our people that COVID is still here.”
Thus, the need for proactive measures. One of such is the current temporary travel ban into the city of travelers coming from outside of Western Visayas.
Hopefully, during this travel ban, the entry of possible carriers of the virus from areas with high numbers of COVID cases can be controlled, the mayor further elucidated.
Another proactive measure is for people to self-impose restrictions to reduce large gatherings.
The mayor then thanked the church leaders for joining the virtual meeting because the participation and cooperation of the people is badly needed to help the government fight this battle.
In response, Pastor Elaine Eleazar, founder of EEM- Miracle Central and chief executive officer of Fishes and Loaves, thanked the city officials, saying, “We are very grateful for all the efforts that you’ve been making to purchase the vaccines and trying your best for Bacolod.”
The mayor also appealed to the religious groups, “This is now something beyond us in many ways. We hope that when we are together, we can storm heaven with our prayers and survive all of these.”
“Your presence is something that’s very inspiring to us and that’s what keeps us going,” he added./WDJ