“If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I'm not gonna let it stop me from partying.”
Those were the videotaped words of now semi-infamous spring breaker Brady Sluder, released on CBS a few weeks ago. Similar comments have been recorded from spring breakers in various towns around the entire state of Florida.
It’s not just the party people, or ‘snowbirds’ as we Floridians like to call them. The whole state government seems to be pretty ambivalent to the virus crisis, for a state made up of a fair majority of higher-risk elderly.
Governor Ron Desantis has been all over the map on coronavirus response. He just put the state on a stay-at-home order at the beginning of April, wore one rubber glove to a briefing about the virus last week and even falsely stated the virus hasn’t killed anyone under 25.
It seems like the entire state of Florida doesn’t care about the virus, to the point where there are copious memes popping up about it online.
But as someone who is immunocompromised and moved back to my home in the Tampa area after Miami closed its in-person campus, I wish people would take this seriously.
I have pretty bad asthma and get sick quite often, so I’m at a higher risk than most people my age. Of course, I’m terrified of the coronavirus. I’m staying in my house as much as I can, so much so that my mother is telling me I need to go into the backyard on occasion just to get some sunshine.
My mother has been slaving away at her sewing machine, making face masks for the whole family, which we sometimes even wear at home. She went to the post office to mail a package a few days ago, and even though she wore a mask and kept six feet from everyone else, she has been trying to social distance from the rest of the family as best as she can just in case. That’s not as easy as it sounds in a single-family suburban home.
It’s not just those of us who are higher-risk who are scared, though. Most of my high school friends moved straight back home after their local universities closed in-person classes and activities, too. We’re all quarantining ourselves. A few of us, like me, are too scared to even step outside, other than in the safety of our own backyards.
Is it killing me that I’m in Florida, literally a five-minute drive from the beach, and I can’t go soak up the sun and splash in some waves? Absolutely. But I won’t risk my health or the health of others just to get some rays.
All of those spring breakers who were partying in Miami until they officially closed the beaches are exactly the kind of people I’m worried about. Those are folks who aren’t willing to sacrifice their own free time for the good of the people around them. If even one spring breaker had the coronavirus, it could have spread to the entire beach by the end of the week with the amount of partying and close contact they undergo.
The fact that I live a 20-minute drive from Clearwater Beach, one of the most popular spring break beaches in Florida outside of Miami, isn’t helping. In fact, the county I live in had the eighth highest number of cases out of all 67 Floridian counties as of last Thursday night.
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Now, in recent days, some of these spring break snowbirds have recognized how damaging their partying could have been to the health of the state. Brady Sluder even released a public apology for his statements. But there are plenty of people who still just don’t care, who cough on police officers and claim to have the coronavirus or who don’t social distance at the grocery store.
People like that drive me crazy.
They’re going to be the downfall of us all. It’s not about the “I,” has never been about the “I.” It’s all about the “we” in this situation, but some Floridians don’t seem to see that.
Florida is still wild and crazy, of course. Just don’t think it’s all of us.