A lot of people in the (mostly NYC-based) corporate media have made fun of Governor DeSantis for imposing quarantine orders on folks coming down to Florida from states with high numbers of coronavirus infections (i.e. New England). And it is indeed quite funny that his order only applies to people who reach Florida by plane – and not by some other means – seeing as how a ton of New Yorkers regularly drive here and are probably in the process of doing exactly that. But “coronavirus tourism” truly is becoming a problem here. And I’m not just saying that because I am a Southerner and New Yorkers always seem like locusts to me.
Living in a community with a lot of wealthy retirees and a lot of people with multiple houses through all of this has been an… enlightening… experience. As clickbait articles across the country are playing up the risk the Spring Break crowd has theoretically posed for the spread of the illness, all I can do is laugh because it’s such a colossal misrepresentation. Most of the seniors around here – the people who are supposedly the most vulnerable to the illness – are having a grand time, throwing parties every day and defying local orders to stay out of public spaces en masse. A neighbor who is a golf pro is booked all day, every day for months out. Usually winter is golf pros’ peak season, so the 1% are loving this plague.
DeSantis’s order to close restaurants, bars, and other places dropped a bomb on the hospitality industry here for about a week. Hotels and resorts cut their prices dramatically in response, and beach towns are being flooded with coronavirus tourists. We are not talking about healthy college kids that are now out of school, but old folks from the exact areas most prone to the illness. Most college kids can’t afford to lease a condo for months spontaneously without having a job somewhere.
On top of that, many folks from New England with a second home or condo are coming down here to get away from the insane measures in their home states that have dampened the lifestyles to which they are accustomed. And they are bringing their entire extended family with them. Lots of people who own second houses or condos down here have passed the keys onto any family or friends trying to escape problem areas. This is pretty much exactly what happened in Italy after they started quarantining specific regions and people did not like or trust the local government response. People from Lombardy decided to export the illness in a panic.
It is one more example of how the “quarantine everyone” mentality some local governments have is perversely helping spread the coronavirus. It’s making anyone who can afford to leave those places, or who has relations elsewhere, leave. And they truly are bringing the illness with them, as our county had had zero coronavirus cases until they got here.
They aren’t coming down here to hide in their rooms and keep six feet apart when they absolutely must go out, either. We have a local controversy raging as one massive resort re-opened all of its amenities in defiance of government orders after coronavirus tourists renting condos demanded it. They are like ambulance-chasers forum-shopping personal injury lawsuits. Give me what I want or I will take my money further on down the coast. That specific resort reported its first coronavirus case yesterday.
It’s bonkers the amount of totally unnecessary strife they are creating in beach towns up and down the coast at the moment. Permanent residents who are fearful of the virus (retirees) are now trying to get the resorts (which contribute a great deal to the local economy in normal years) shut down for health violations. They are filing endless complaints about the facilities to try to frustrate local officials into ever more extreme actions. The comments section of local news sites are being trolled constantly with elderly people bitching about how far away people are standing from each other at the community pool that shouldn’t even be open in the first place. It’s like the entire world has become NextDoor.
In a way, it is kind of entertaining, as this is what wealthy people have always done in times of plague. They would leave densely populated urban areas for country and beach homes. Cholera and other illnesses are how we ended up with so many grand estates out in the middle of nowhere. Now they set up shop in Florida and work on their golf swing as the rest of the world figures out how to file for unemployment benefits because we crashed the global economy for their sake.