A police procession in South Florida this week lined up to mourn the death of Jennifer Sepot, one of five officers in the state who passed away this week due to complications with Covid-19.
Sepot, 27, tested positive for Coronavirus while working as a Fort Lauderdale road police officer, where she served for four years. It was unclear if she, or the others officers who died, were vaccinated for Covid-19.
She who was buried on Friday at Abundant Life Church following the procession, and is survived by her husband and their two-year-old daughter. According to Union President Detective Brandon Diaz, Sepot’s husband is also an officer, serving with the Margate, Fl., police department. Those wishing to donate to help support the family can do so here.
Diaz recounted that Sepot “was exposed at work and had tested positive, and then went to the hospital and passed away this morning.”
That same day, Lazaro Febles, 41, a Florida highway patrol trooper who had tested positive for the virus, also succumbed to Covid-19. Officer Robert Williams of West Palm Beast, Edward Perez of Miami Beach, and Sgt. Patrick Madison of Coral Springs, were the other officers in a surge of Covid-19 deaths in Florida just this week. The majority of officers lining the procession still remained unmasked, as seen in a Facebook post of the event.
“Florida had over 7,400 confirmed Covid-19 hospital admissions in the most recent seven-day window,” Dr. Jason Salemi, a University of South Florida epidemiologist told NBC Miami.
Salemi runs what NBC described as, “the most comprehensive, authoritative website focused on Florida Covid data,” which detailed cases rises over 600 percent in the past five weeks. It’s the worst numbers that the state has seen since January 2021.
Florida, which makes up just 6% of the United States’ total population, reported 22% of the nation’s total Covid-19 cases from the past few weeks.
“We went in a four-week time span from seven children being hospitalized each day with Covid-19 to 23 children,” Dr. Salemi said.
A vaccination mandate for officers in Florida is unlikely to be issued anytime soon, despite the surge in positive cases, especially since Governor Ron DeSantis refuses to push for a mask mandate, even in schools.
Giving a speech in Utah to the American Legislative Exchange Council, DeSantis stated that he was going to look for special legislature that would forcibly stop schools from being able to impose mask mandates. Later that week, he passed an executive order.
New York City’s school district, the largest in the country, just passed a vaccination mandate for the city’s teachers, while in the South parents are pulling their kids out of school as entire grades are sent home to prevent more cases.
Florida became the third state in the country to exceed 3 million cases of Covid-19, according to USA Today, which only 15 other countries in the world have also surpassed.
“This is unfortunately a crisis of unprecedented proportions,” said Dr. Vincent Hsu, executive director of infection prevention and epidemiologist at AdventHealth.
All five of Baptist Health’s hospitals are seeing more than double the number of patients as the previous summer’s pandemic peak, with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer urging residents to stay inside and conserve water, since the summer drought is drying up the city’s potable water, which is used to treat patients.
“I’ve chosen to get vaccinated because I think it’s something we should do to keep ourselves safe,” Detective Brandon Diaz said, “but people have their reasons for not doing so, so we like to respect their individual rights.”
“We obviously encourage our members to get vaccinated,” Diaz said, “but it’s their own personal decision.”