From women’s day
It almost seemed like Florida was in a bubble, immune to the social and physical effects of COVID-19. When the first COVID-19 case hit the United States in January of this year, the state of Florida was not surprised. Even when the virus attacked the east coast a month later, my local government made no restrictions. In addition to Disney World and Universal Studios, every business and attraction has remained active. The threat of unemployment was apparently nonexistent, and the state did what it does every year and started preparing for a summer season that too many of us thought were busy.
Other states, however, have made a serious effort to stop the spread. In Washington, the first pandemic “hot spot”, people were almost immediately advised to stay home and non-essential activities were closed. Today, residents are still repairing on the spot, practicing social removal and wearing face masks in public spaces. These rules, among other things, helped Washington drop its new number of cases from nearly 1,000 to less than 600 every seven days, according to The New York Times. When the virus took over New York, the state suffered a complete blockade that left residents in their homes for more than three months. Now, as of July 9, New York has reduced the number of new cases from 12,000 to 600 per week.
But Florida hasn’t seen the same results. As of July 9, 223,775 new cases have been confirmed in the solar state. This can partly be attributed to the relaxed mentality of most Floridians (including the governor), as well as the lack of adequate test equipment.
As Florida cases increase, my regret for not taking COVID-19 as seriously as I should have. I am nervous, not only for myself, but for the people around me. I realized that I have to make changes and follow the example of people in Washington and New York City. But I’m worried that those changes won’t be enough, because too many others in Florida don’t have the same feeling.
Florida’s smaller attractions are as busy as ever.
If you were to take a stroll through Siesta Key’s Ocean Boulevard, you would think it’s a typical pre-pandemic summer day. Most restaurants are open for indoor and outdoor dining and hardly any customers wear masks. The only obvious CDC guideline that is followed is the 6-foot rule, but that also fades as the evening goes by and the diners have had a few more drinks. Some cities, such as Miami and Orlando, have implemented curfews and alcohol bans in an attempt to avoid the rise of new COVID-19 cases, but most establishments are ignoring this rule, likely to keep the money coming.
Wearing a mask is sometimes seen as a political action.
In some parts of the country, mandatory use of the face mask is considered a necessary action to protect human life. In Florida, however, it is often considered a violation of one’s constitutional rights. During a commissioner meeting in Palm Beach County last month, residents were outraged after the unanimous vote to make masks mandatory. In a video of CNN, citizens said the masks “are killing people” and accused the government of wanting “to throw God’s wonderful breathing system out the door”. Many also questioned the experience and knowledge of the local doctor about the pandemic.
According to a review conducted by The Lancet, wearing a face mask and practicing social estrangement (6 feet away) reduces the chance of 10.2% of contracting the COVID-19 virus. Even with hard data provided by scientists and medical experts in Florida and other parts of the United States, wearing a face mask has turned into a so-called leftist political tool to dismiss an unknown doomsday agenda. But Kerri Quinones Lumsden, a practicing nurse in central Florida, says Women’s day which is far from it.
“Personally I don’t think there is anything political about wearing a mask, it just shows that you care about people,” says Quinones Lumsden. “We must have a responsibility towards our loved ones and friends.”
Some numbers of cases thought by Floridian are exaggerated.
Since the virus was never taken seriously by state political leaders from the outset, it is difficult for Floridians to understand and accept the gravity of this unparalleled public health crisis. Even after 56 intensive care units in Florida hospitals have reached capacity with COVID-19 cases, people still think the numbers are fabricated. A friend of mine, who lives in Orlando, has so far gone to ask if the growing number was a sort of “media ploy to terrorize the public”.
Trying to get tested in Florida is a challenge.
While researching how to get tested for COVID-19, multiple medical sites in the Central Florida area will tell you to make an appointment or get referrals to a doctor. If you do not have insurance or the possibility of obtaining a referral, you must opt for an appointment in which waiting times can be up to three weeks from the time of registration. If you are lucky, the site through which you are registering does not crash during use and you will be able to safely plan a time and place to be tested. Most of the time, however, sites are overloaded with traffic and crashes, forcing users to restart the process. There are approximately four drive-throughs without an appointment in the Orlando area, and they usually have waiting times of four hours or more. Nobody likes to struggle with a website over and over again, and the idea of waiting in line for four hours or more discourages people from even going. As a result, people who feel symptomatic or are regularly exposed to people are less likely to get tested.
Even after being tested, some centers take up to five or more days to deliver results. This leaves an immeasurable amount of time to develop anxiety and actually pause your life, or assume that you are negative and aggregate with others potentially exposing them to the virus.
I hope that Florida residents begin to act more responsibly.
Since January 2020, COVID-19 has taken people’s lives around the world and influenced the future life and health of many others. The outbreak turned into a global pandemic in March 2020 and there were 11,910,220 cases confirmed globally in July, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at John Hopkins University. What’s even more frightening is that, according to The New York Times, the United States currently accounts for 3.0 million of these cases. Every state in the country should act as quickly as possible to stop the spread. Unfortunately, this is not happening.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I heard that this virus was another H1N1 or SARS – something that happened “out of sight” and could therefore be out of your mind; a problem that rarely interrupted most of people’s lives. I did not believe that typical activities such as traveling, participating in social functions and sharing meals were a risk, for me or for others.
But now, as the virus hits home, I will proceed with caution. As we enter the summer, I hope that instead of waiting for our local government to issue quarantine regulations, the people of Florida will simply start practicing them on their own. We do not need to wait until we are told to wear face masks, to stay indoors or to stay six feet apart. We shouldn’t wait to do our part to stop the spread of this sometimes fatal virus.
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