Opinion: Stay at home, don’t scream at your friend

Trent Gautney, Opinion writer

On Wednesday, Governor Ron DeSantis, under immense public pressure, finally issued a safer at home order for the state of Florida. This decision comes as Florida passes 10,000 positive cases for COVID-19.

While this was most certainly a step in the right direction, it has come too late. 

Even as people are ordered to stay at home and all nonessential businesses are closed (unless it’s a church), many people in Florida have not seemed to adjust to the idea of social distancing very well.

Florida is a fairly spread-out state and we have not felt the same repercussions of the virus that much denser states like New York have. This being paired with a governor who has decided to wait until the last minute before doing anything has led many Floridians to have a decidedly nonchalant attitude toward the pandemic.

In a New York Times article written on April 2, it was revealed that Duval County has the third-highest average of daily travel in the nation for cities with more than 500,000 residents as of Friday. It was also mentioned that the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office had to break up block parties this weekend. 

While Jacksonville was one of the worst offenders, cities all across Florida have cited similar issues as people have continued going about their daily lives. But then again, what can we expect from a state where golf courses are considered an essential service?

So what do we do given that our government has failed to adequately respond to the pandemic in time?

We know that one of the best things we can do to mitigate it is to practice social distancing. The Centers for Disease Control advises that people “Avoid large and small gatherings in private places and public spaces, such a friend’s house, parks, restaurants, shops, or any other place. This advice applies to people of any age, including teens and younger adults.”

While there are many people who are unable to stay home and are forced to go to work (also the same ones that keep our society from collapse), those of us who do not have to go out owe it to these individuals that we do our part and stay home and away from groups of people. 

It’s also time that we call out the people we know who are not following these guidelines. 

Now, this does not mean that we should scream at our friends for hanging out with people (I can speak from personal experience that this doesn’t actually work). It can be easy to get frustrated when it seems like someone isn’t listening to the news or just doesn’t care, but now more than ever, it is vitally important that we learn to be patient with each other.

What we should do, however, is calmly explain why it is so important that we practice social distancing and be good role models ourselves. Give a daily update on social media about your quarantine adventures, show everyone that it’s not only acceptable to be social distancing, but it’s the norm. 

I know this is not a flawless plan, but for now, it seems to me that it’s the best we’ve got. We’re all in this crisis together, even if we have to stay apart to get through it. 


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