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Universal mask-wearing and social distancing. And no lockdown in sight. Not being a elected public official from Texas, my spouse and enjoyed a nice trip to Florida sans doxxing and media, where we were grateful for warm weather; we’re blessed to have escaped to a decent (not spectacular) resort on short notice and traversed south via car just ahead of snow and ice storms that seem to have gripped most of the country and even parts of northern Mexico (not Cancun, apparently).
I had heard and read conflicting things about Gov. Ron DeSantis’ management of the COVID crisis – he never executed a lockdown of the state – or on citizens’ behaviors. A quick internet search is replete with endless excoriation of Florida’s handling of the virus and vaccine distribution, despite nearly 50 percent of the state’s seniors being vaccinated. I’d also heard that Floridians and especially workers were flaunting CDC safety standards, with crowded bars and limited masks. Some idiot dressed as the grim reaper has been spotted with media in tow along some of Florida’s beaches.
Were people actually wearing masks? Social distancing? Were retailers and other companies taking precautions? We know people and friends who‘ve been afflicted with COVID and lost loved ones. We grieve with them, along with 511,000 Americans who have also been lost to the China virus.
I’ll let the facts speak for themselves about how Florida is doing with the largest per capita concentration of those most vulnerable to COVID, people over 75 years of age. Schools never closed, restaurants were almost always open to indoor service (none we saw were overcrowded and patrons were generally well spaced). Mask wearing was universal everywhere we went.
Perhaps the most interesting observation was our visit to a nice outlet mall in Vineland, Florida, just west of Kissimmee. A diverse population of customers. Even though the mall is mostly outdoors (except for the individual retail stores), mask-wearing was mandatory, and everyone I saw complied. Most stores limited the number of patrons in the store (not all), and there were lines outside a few. The mall was busy, but everyone was on their best behavior. One store was even conducting temperature checks on each visitor. I’ve never seen that done anywhere else outside of hospitals or doctors’ offices. Admittedly, having spent most of my time in Pennsylvania since the pandemic began, we’ve been pretty severely locked down; most retail businesses were mostly shuttered or severely restricted through the November 2020 election, and I haven’t gotten out much.
Now it is true that the mask mandates come more from the private sector in Florida than the government. But I don’t see a problem with that, and the state government has long advised people to social distance and wear masks. He is trusting the businesses of his states to protect their customers. And nearly all seem to be. The approach, from what I saw, seems to be working, which should surprise no one. No business in their right mind takes chances with the safety of their customers, and doesn’t always need to run to the nanny state to impose often overly-punitive mandates and orders.
Yes, Florida has a lot of cases; its case positivity rate is still too high at over 6 percent, but remains generally on the decline, along with other statistics, and that’s true pretty much true most everywhere right now. Its mortality rate is 1.6, compared to a WHO rate of 3.6.
Here’s how many people died from COVID in Florida on the most recent date reported, Saturday, Feb 20: 1.
Another accusation recently hurled at DeSantis is that his vaccine distribution plan is racist, favoring well-off white communities over communities of color. Well, that’s been debunked courtesy of National Review magazine.
Deaths from COVID in nursing homes are well below that of states such as New York and Pennsylvania. And Florida leads the nation in the number of over 65 residents vaccinated (as one might hope, given that it leads the nation in its proportion of those over 65, at nearly 19% of its population. Florida has nearly 22 million residents now). Over 4 million doses have been administered with 2.6 million – over 2 million over 65 years of age – having been fully vaccinated
We felt comfortable in Florida. But we’ll let you know if come back to VA with an unwelcome viral hitchhiker. So far, so good. We aren’t living in fear, but we’re being smart. We’ve also spent a good amount of time in SC – same story. Florida’s own COVID website tells a more complete story.Published in