In a sudden turn of events, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has finally decided to close some popular beaches via an announcement to spring breakers that “the party is over.” After footage of Florida spring breakers ignoring calls to practice social distancing went viral, the governor finally decided to take action to end spring break festivities. DeSantis told reporters that his message for spring breakers is that they will not “be able to congregate on any beach in the state […] for the time being.”
On Tuesday, the governor banned large gatherings, closed bars and nightclubs for 30 days, and ordered restaurants to cut their seating capacity in half. However, he refused to acknowledge crowds at beaches, claiming that “massive crowds” were not present at the shores, despite images showing otherwise. Local government officials, including the mayors of Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale, took matters into their own hands and issued orders to close those cities’ beaches this past weekend.
Referring to the photos of spring breakers, DeSantis told Fox and Friends that some of the images may have been of people who came to the state prior to the epidemic, and claimed that tourism has decreased. “The bars are closed so you’re not going to have a place to congregate there, so we would just tell those folks maybe come back next year when things are better, but that is not what we’re looking for here in the state of Florida,” he continued. “Every single beach will have to abide by the CDC guidelines, no more than 10 people, you have to be socially distant, not every beach is going to remain open, but some will.”
College students seem to think they are immune to the virus in footage shown by local media. “If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I’m not gonna let it stop me from partying,” Brady Sluder, a spring breaker, told Reuters.”We’re just out here having a good time. Whatever happens, happens.” The widespread condemnation and outrage of images and video footage of young adults partying in the state despite the pandemic has prompted DeSantis to finally speak up. “Regardless of local decisions, you’re not going to be able to congregate like those images that you saw,” DeSantis said Thursday.
Over 300 people in Florida have tested positive for COVID-19 since Wednesday, and eight Florida residents have died, according to the state’s department of health. Crowds of young people on beaches have been one of the biggest concerns for Florida residents. “These kids are asymptomatic,” said Bruce L. Boros, who owns three urgent care facilities in Florida. “They are not going to cancel spring break. They are going to come down here, drink beer and have fun. We have pretty much done ourselves in.”
While many young people believe they are immune to COVID-19 and that the virus only affects the “elderly,” a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that up to 20% of patients hospitalized with coronavirus are between the ages of 20 and 44. Daily Kos reported that studies show the coronavirus may have spread more quickly in Italy due to young people going about their daily life, avoiding social distancing under the impression that they were less likely to become infected than others. “According to this study, this initial lack of social distancing from crowds, particularly in cities, and then going home to see older family members in more rural or isolated areas may be partially to blame for the illness accelerating in Italy to the degree that it has,” Daily Kos reported.
It is essential to remember that whether or not you are vulnerable to contracting the virus, you do have the ability to spread it. Social distancing slows the transmission of the virus and makes it less likely to spread from one person to another. Health experts are not telling individuals to stay home forever, but are encouraging people to avoid public gatherings to help slow down the spread of the pandemic. While it’s disappointing to temporarily cancel or postpone plans, think of how many lives, including your own, you could possibly save.
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