Every once in a while I get to report on a bit of good news that comes out of my home state of Florida, but more often than not, whenever there’s news from the Sunshine State it’s, well, anything but sunshine. Such is the case today, as it was reported yesterday that beaches in Jacksonville, Florida have been reopened to the public and, rather than proceeding with care and caution, as was recommended, residents of the city flocked to the seashore in droves.
Jacksonville is known by many in the state and outside of it as the armpit of Florida, and as such I’ve never particularly counted on the city to be at the cutting edge of decision making. However, reopening the beaches with little more than a warning to residents to try and stay away from each other just seems like gross and flagrant incompetence on behalf of the city’s leadership.
“This can be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life,” said Mayor Lenny Curry, “Please respect and follow these limitations. Stay within the guidelines for your safety as well as for the safety of your neighbors.” While Atlantic Beach Mayor Ellen Glasser said, “This not a time to lounge. This is not a time to party. This is a time where you need to exercise, keep moving and then go home.” Based on the influx of beachgoers on Friday in close proximity to one another and with nary a mask on, it does not appear that their messages were heeded.
The guidelines Curry referenced include stipulations that the beaches are open for essential activities only, which include fishing, taking care of pets, and surfing. No chairs, coolers, sunbathing, or towels are meant to be laid out, and the beaches will only be open from 6 to 11 a.m. and from 5 to 8 p.m. How this will be enforced, remains to be seen.
The beach reopenings came just a day after the deadliest day in Florida in regard to covid-19. In total, there have been over 730 deaths and more than 25,000 infections in the state.
Later next month, I will be missing my younger brother’s high school graduation in Florida as, likely, will he, because it’s both unsafe for me to travel and unlikely it will even still be taking place. With people across the country giving up far more than missing graduations to try and slow the spread of the virus, it’s just honestly disheartening to see so many people seemingly not give a shit. I do feel like I say this at least once a week but it, unfortunately, bears repeating: get it together, Florida!