This essay was written on May 15, 2020 and published in Florida Sun Sentinel on May 26, 2020.
“Florida’s ‘blind fools’”
Florida is my home. Since April 7, our new-cases-per-day numbers have been steeply falling, marking Florida as a national outlier. Some even called this inexplicable. Others took victory laps.
Around April 18, close to 14 days before the first of May, there was a relaxing of the restrictions in Florida because people were getting antsy and bending the rules. This is never a good reason to relax the rules, but we did, this is Florida, and as a result, more Floridians began bending the new laxer rules even farther. Remember the Hashtag slapped on early beach crowders?
On May 1, Florida’s stay-at-home orders were further lifted, relaxing our already relaxed rules even more. About the same time, the state’s downward trend in new-cases-per-day ominously stopped falling and plateaued. This was about 14 days since the rules were first relaxed. This is COVID-19’s incubation period. Coincidence? I think not.
This rush to reopen without thorough real-time testing to scientifically confirm cause and effect reminds me of a carload of blind fools racing toward the edge of a cliff they cannot see.
I hope we do not crash. I hope a miracle happens. I hope magical thinking turns out to be accidentally right. Even a broken clock is right twice every day. What are the odds?
Under the best of circumstances, man plans and God laughs. In this case, we are not honestly planning, and God is not laughing.
This op-ed was written while we were living in Northern Florida during the pandemic. The madness that occurred in Florida due to far-right politics overriding commonsense and safety is implicit in this essay. The city of one million where we lived was hard hit. Early on in the pandemic, for a period of weeks, we become the national epicenter of the pandemic. We had freezer truck morgues and everything else imaginable and unimaginable, and yet, most of the people surrounding us continued to deny the reality of covid.
All throughout the pandemic, the majority of the people in our area refused to wear masks. Many taunted and threatened those who did wear masks. Many believed vaccines were part of a capitalistic conspiracy and ivermectin was the cure. Our own doctor, unsolicited, advised us to take ivermectin as a preventative measure. When we went to get a vaccine booster, we were the first people to do so because almost no one was getting vaccinated. To this day, only about 60% of the people are vaccinated.
We left Florida in June 2022 after living there for five years. Prior to Florida, we had lived in Los Angeles. Estimates are that approximately 30% of the people who moved during the pandemic did so partially or completely for political reasons. When we fled Florida, we felt like domestic political refugees and still do.
This was my first message from the frontlines of what could become the new COVID epicenter for the country, Florida. Which city in Florida will win the epicenter prize? It could be Tampa or Orlando, but their mayors are more sensible. It could be a major city in South Florida, but having been burned, their mayors are being more careful too. So that leaves my home city of Jacksonville. It’s the largest city in the southeast of the country, and almost no one is wearing mask or socially distancing here. All the locals still seem to be pretending the pandemic is over as the state infection rate goes through the roof! Our mayor is following our governor’s lead, who is following the president’s lead. To add insult to injury, we have the RNC convention coming to town. It looks like Jacksonville could be the perfect storm.
It has struck my friends and me, how creepy and weird it is how my first bestseller, Immortality, has synchronicities with our current coronavirus-pandemic. In Immortality, I called the bacteria causing the pandemic, COBIC-3.7. Now we have COVID-19. Immortality had kill-zones. Now, we have hot-zones. It feels like someone should be saying, “Welcome to the twilight zone.”
In this essay, I warn that it looked like our good luck was running out and that a reversal was coming. It did not take superhuman scientific analysis of the data to see this trend. All it took was looking at the data apolitically, which seems to be something beyond the capacity of too many of our elected leaders.