We are living in an unprecedented time with the fear of a potentially deadly disease hanging over our heads.
We’re afraid of the unknown – stress levels are high – and every day we find out something new and staggering about the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. There’s no vaccine and treatments pretty much depend on the severity of the symptoms. And the scariest thing – seniors and those with underlying medical issues face a higher risk of serious illness and death from the virus.
So far, 563 people in the Sunshine State have tested positive for the Coronavirus. Six of those live in the tri-county area, with one residing in Lady Lake just outside the walls of The Villages. That alarming news surely hits home to just about every resident of Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.
Health officials have been very clear about the best defenses against the Coronavirus – wash your hands, cover coughs and sneezes, avoid others when sick and stay home, and practice social distancing. In fact, we’re told to go so far as to avoid being in groups of 10 or more people and to stay six feet apart from each other.
That need for social distancing has led to many things that have disrupted our lives. Restaurant dining rooms where we enjoy socializing and breaking bread together have been closed. Bars and nightclubs have been shut down. Indoor activities at recreation centers are canceled, town square entertainment has been eliminated, fitness clubs are closed, softball is on hold and many government meetings aren’t taking place. The list goes on and on.
COVID-19 also has created shortages in stores, and as often happens in fearful situations, people are hoarding a variety of grocery items. Toilet paper is impossible to find. The milk shelves are bare. And potatoes are scarce.
As we move forward in the age of the Coronavirus, we’re hoping that Floridians will calm down and stop purchasing items in bulk when it’s not necessary. There’s no reason whatsoever for shortages in items like toilet paper. If everyone continued to make purchases like they normally do, that would be one less thing for all of us to worry about. The same goes for milk, potatoes, lunchmeat, paper towels, etc.
Gov. Ron DeSantis praised Villagers last week for practicing social distancing and taking the virus seriously. We agree with him that many residents are doing exactly what they need to do. But we’ve seen some who have crowded together after warnings were issued. And we’re aware of situations where large groups of residents were recently in Villages swimming pools after the 10-or-less rule was made quite clear.
Unfortunately, when the pool limits were ignored, officials had no choice but to shut them down. Signs had been posted warning residents of the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention limiting groups to 10 people. But that didn’t stop a group of 39 people – including many children – from cramming into the Churchill Family Pool in close quarters. It also didn’t stop 24 people – again, children included – from using the Ashland Pool or the packed conditions at the Village of Fenney pool.
Some residents were upset when the recreation department closed the pools, but they had no one to blame but those who refused to follow the rules. Personal responsibility would have eliminated the closures and we applaud those who made the decision to do the right thing while trying to protect Villagers from the fast-spreading virus.
Going forward, we’re hoping that residents who are frustrated by the many closures, cancelations and postponements will support the painful decisions people like our president, governor, medical experts, Villages officials and business owners have been forced to make. Closing businesses and limiting their capabilities leads to layoffs and shutdowns. But the alternative – thousands of very ill people and the potential for many of them to die – isn’t one any of us wants to face. So, let’s remember that those folks simply are doing their best to follow the guidelines put forth by some of the top minds in the medical world to keep us all healthy and safe.
We’d also ask every Villager and tri-county resident to find ways to help others during this difficult time. Go the extra mile to assist your neighbors. Take a moment to check in with family members and friends. And do whatever is necessary to provide support to those in need as we all work together to navigate this daunting time in history.