Of course, officials don't want to panic ... But NOW would be a good time to evacuate the most vulnerable people or areas in the city, like clearing movable hospital patients.
In fact, that size and slow forward speed will make this a hurricane experience like none in memory, if it comes together as forecast. The weather will deteriorate tomorrow (Monday) in the Florida Panhandle, and tomorrow night across the rest of the northern Gulf coast. Then Tuesday the storm approaches the coast and a whole day later it is just inland on the current timetable. Even Thursday there is still onshore wind over part of the coast.
Almost exactly this time last year, we were sheltering in place for Hurricane Irene coming ashore in NYC. That turned out to be less bad than feared, at least in the city, but I am glad we were prepared.