Beachgoers of all ages were out in force in Florida on Monday at Clearwater Beach, despite the coronavirus outbreak.
Much to the chagrin of many.
Officials are recommending that people stay at home as much as possible in the days ahead, urging “social distancing” in hopes of checking the pandemic before it can get worse.
All across the country, restaurants and bars are being closed down, and all major sports have suspended operations. In a further effort to stem the spread of the virus, President Donald Trump tightened restrictions on Monday when he called trying to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.
But the message is not resonating in Clearwater Beach.
WFLA shared an overhead video of the crowded beach online, adding: “Clearwater Beach, Florida is PACKED today despite ‘social distancing’ recommendations.”
— WFLA NEWS (@WFLA) March 16, 2020
For the record, as of Monday evening at 7 p.m., there were 142 cases of coronavirus in the state, according to the Florida Department of Health — the Florida population is 21.4 million.
Of those cases, the overwhelming majority coming from those who have traveled, or have been in contact with confirmed cases, there have been five deaths.
While some argue that the government response is an encroachment on civil liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, there is a state of emergence in effect, as Trump announced on Friday.
The latest figures show at least 4,661 confirmed cases in the country, as COVID-19 has reached 49 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. In the end, it will require a little sacrifice from all, as the president said Monday at a White House press briefing
“Each and every one of us has a critical role to play in stopping the spread and transmission of the virus,” Trump insisted. “If everyone makes this change or these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation, and we will defeat the virus, and we’re going to have a big celebration altogether. With several weeks of focused action, we can turn the corner and turn it quickly.”
The reaction online was pretty intense, though there was some disagreement on whether these are Floridians or out-of-state tourists:
Oh no…don’t go throwing these people on us. Local Floridians are currently at work, these are all your tourists. If every state would kindly come collect their sun-seeking miscreants all of Florida would thank you.
— WahoosYahoo (@EST1994CLE) March 16, 2020
I know I’ll be the million and 1st person to point it out but these are mostly what we would call “snowbirds” and spring breakers down in FL. People who didn’t cancel their travel plans to warm weather because of the virus. Florida is at work on a Monday…
— Matt Silver (@CohibasN_Cognac) March 16, 2020
Here’s a sampling of other responses from Twitter:
— Audaciously Adan (@manicsocratic) March 16, 2020
Welcome to the beginning of every zombie movie ever.
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) March 16, 2020
Can we close the border to Florida
— Jessica Fletcher (@heckyessica) March 16, 2020
I’ve lived in Florida for over 30 years. This state isn’t taking this crisis seriously, which is amazing given how seriously everyone here takes hurricane warnings.
— KC Joyner (@KCJoynerTFS) March 16, 2020
What part of #StayTheFuckHome do people not understand?
— Frances Fisher (@Frances_Fisher) March 16, 2020
Mfs sittin out there like pic.twitter.com/WAjRGNVAWU
— Doja (@DojaMoveHectic) March 16, 2020
Prediction: Clearwater will be a COVID-19 hotspot in a few weeks.
— Transparent (@grannyclear) March 17, 2020
This is inexcusable. https://t.co/pXcqX3rhzJ
— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) March 16, 2020