South Florida parks are open again, and I’m scared
Last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that Florida would be opening back up for businesses and recreation. Though I found this announcement unsettling and questionable, I was relieved upon hearing the verbal asterisk that exempted Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties to remain under lockdown. These counties account for more than 50% of confirmed cases in the state.
Even so, South Floridians are understandably irritable and eager to resume their lives as close to normal as possible, thus packing the pressure on many public spaces to reopen in the tri-county area.
I went for a bike ride yesterday evening, and I was excited to finally be able to enter Topeekeegee Yugnee Park on Sheridan Street in Hollywood after its gates had been closed for nearly a month. Though I anticipated an increase in foot traffic, I was not prepared to see such a vast outdoor space at what felt like full occupancy. Everywhere I turned there were clusters of people, varying in age, socializing throughout the park. The bike path was swarmed with so many people- without face masks- that I finally decided to go somewhere else. I felt kind of unsafe.
Though I’m obviously not above leaving my house during this pandemic- I am still working and I do enjoy an evening bike ride- I feel like I am being responsible when I
do leave my house: I wear my mask- gloves if I’m handling cash- and I keep my distance from co-workers.
Basically, I just do what the CDC tells us we should being doing to stop the spread of COVID-19 whilst performing daily activities. So it angers me slightly to feel like I’m being cautious in vain, as if other people don’t care to stop the spread themselves, as if everyone has the mindset of that spring breaker that went viral:
“If I get corona, I get corona.”
To be clear, I’m not accusing my neighbors of not taking this crisis seriously just for wanting to get some exercise at one of Broward’s finest parks. I’ll even acknowledge that I went during golden hour, peak park hours during regular circumstances, so a larger number of park-goers was inevitable.
I’m simply wondering what it will take to get this state on the right path to stop the spread.
Click on one of the city names to read our correspondent’s blog post from that area: