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The Villages
Friday, July 12, 2024

Community leaders in The Villages deserve praise for quickly tackling COVID-19

We applaud District Manager Richard Baier, his staff members, local government officials, the powers-that-be at The Villages, highly responsible local businesspeople and a host of others who have done the right thing by canceling public events and gatherings and taking safety precautions as our country collectively tries to battle the Coronavirus.

Early on, the District jumped on COVID-19 – more than 145,600 people worldwide and 50 in Florida have been stricken by the pandemic disease that currently has no cure – and formed an internal team focused on all facets of the disease. Under Baier’s strong leadership – he has a history of tackling projects and issues head-on – they adopted a proactive strategy, from dispensing extra cleaning solution to employees to getting timely information to residents from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Sumter County Health Department and the state.

Elena Buell cleans a railing Friday afternoon at City Fire in Lake Sumter Landing. The staff at the popular eatery and its sister restaurant in Brownwood are adhering to strict cleaning schedules every day as fears of the Coronavirus spread through The Villages.

Baier and company also took the lead in shutting down a host of District government meetings through next Friday, the Spring Craft Show at Lake Miona, SeaBreeze and Eisenhower Regional Recreation Centers, and a Community Development District orientation session. Those decisions weren’t made lightly, they didn’t happen overnight, and they took a great deal of behind-the-scenes conversations to determine the right thing to do, largely because we don’t know a great deal about COVID-19 with the exception that those in poor health and senior citizens – about 135,000 folks here meet that criteria – are among the most at risk of suffering serious illness or death from the disease.

Luckily for Villagers, Gov. Ron DeSantis – he declared a public health emergency after two people tested “presumptively positive” for the disease and predicted others would come down with it – his staff, the Florida Department of Health and our three local health departments have been extremely proactive in dealing with the Coronavirus. Area residents are receiving a barrage of information about the disease, including daily updates on the number of cases in Florida and ways to protect themselves against becoming infected.

The Sumter County Health Department quickly advised Villagers and other seniors to practice “social distancing.” That’s because COVID-19 can spread between people who are in close contact through respiratory droplets – liquid released when someone sneezes, coughs or talks – that infect people via the eyes, nose or mouth. They can land directly on someone or be transferred onto their body by people touching their face with contaminated hands.

Fortunately, many others in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown also have taken proactive approaches to COVID-19. They include:

Village of Springdale resident Diane Ealence uses the free hand sanitizer at City Fire in Lake Sumter Landing on Friday afternoon.

Not surprisingly, Villagers and area residents are constantly seeking information about how to avoid contracting the Coronavirus. Health officials say the best practice is to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds – frequently. They also recommend using sanitizer products containing a minimum of 60 percent alcohol on your hands and surfaces that may have been exposed to respiratory droplets from infected people.

Villages resident Dr. Gabe Mirkin, a regular Villages-News.com health columnist, also suggests residents:

  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
    Sick people should stay at home (e.g., from work or school).
  • Coughs and sneezes should be covered with a tissue, followed by disposal of the tissue.
    Frequently touched objects and surfaces should be cleaned regularly with an alcohol-based disinfectant.

There’s no question that we’re living in a scary time. People are frightened of the unknown, lives are being disrupted and major sporting events and other gatherings are being canceled at an alarming rate. But all of those steps clearly are necessary if our country hopes to get COVID-19 under control before it wreaks complete havoc and claims thousands of American lives.

City Fire owner Gina Buell cleans the door handles to her Lake Sumter Landing restaurant on Friday afternoon.

Currently, there are no known cases of COVID-19 in The Villages. We fully believe that’s because Baier, government leaders, staff members, local businesspeople and a bunch of concerned residents have done the right thing and taken this disease seriously.

That said, please take every precaution possible and take care of each other. It’s only a matter of time before a vaccine and cure is found for COVID-19. But until that day arrives, we all have a responsibility to take this disease very seriously and do whatever it takes to protect ourselves and our loved ones from it.

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