Tragedy hit home Friday when we learned that a Villages resident had succumbed to the Coronavirus.
Sadly, 84-year-old Village of Winifred resident Carol Lynch lost her life Thursday after being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 24. Lynch’s health rapidly took a turn for the worse before she died, leaving her family and friends mourning the loss of someone described as the “Eveready Bunny” and a “force to be reckoned with.”
Four other Sumter and Lake County residents also have died as a result of the virus. They are described as an 83-year-old woman, a 68-year-old man, a 74-year-old woman and an 86-year-old man. We’re not sure if any of those victims are Villagers, as the Florida Department of Health only releases the county where they reside. But given their age, we certainly wouldn’t be surprised if they also are residents of the mega-retirement community.
All of which brings us to this – every resident who lives in The Villages and those in the surrounding communities must take this pandemic seriously. In fact, we all have an obligation to follow Gov. Ron DeSantis’ stay-at-home order and practice social distancing and other precautionary measures when going to places like grocery stores or pharmacies.
As we all know, the order allows for things like walks or enjoying exercise in the fresh air. But it’s imperative that it doesn’t take place in groups, no matter how stir crazy one might be or how much friends are missed. Keeping a six-foot distance from others who may have the virus has never been more important, especially given the fact that more than 10,000 people have now tested positive in the Sunshine State.
There’s no doubt that Villagers are missing the old days of town square entertainment, eating at their favorite restaurants, going to recreation centers, swimming, playing softball and visiting dog parks with their lovable pets. Toss in the fact that pickleball and tennis courts also have been closed and we’re not surprised to learn that residents want their fun-loving lifestyle back.
We’re also aware that some Villagers – particularly when news of the COVID-19 virus first came to light – didn’t exactly take the virus seriously. Some were seen crowding around area bars before the governor shut down restaurant dining rooms. Some held large-scale parties in their homes. Some tossed out the 6-foot separation rule while playing golf. More than once groups were spotted gathering at Lake Sumter Landing. And let’s not forget that Villages pools were shut down because residents wouldn’t follow the rule of 10 or less in the water at any given time.
Amazingly, it got to the point where Sumter County sheriff’s deputies had to start patrolling the area and encouraging people to adhere to the social-distancing guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We think it’s beyond ridiculous that sheriff’s deputies had to get involved with the need for the use of common sense. And we find it shameful that because of the careless actions of a few people, those deputies had to put themselves at risk.
Let’s remember that Coronavirus is moved by people. If they stop moving, the virus eventually goes away. People stop dying – more than 170 in Florida, more than 7,100 in the United States and 278,000-plus across the globe. And we’ll be able to put this horrific ordeal behind us once and for all.
Here’s the bottom line: If people follow the governor’s stay-at-home order, wash their hands, keep surfaces clean and stay at home when they’re sick, it stands to reason that a huge dent will be put into the spread of COVID-19. That means that we – all of us – have the ability to play a huge part in ending this pandemic.
At some point, town squares, restaurants, pickleball courts, recreation centers, pools and dog parks will reopen. Those socializing opportunities many crave will come back soon enough. And before we know it, The Villages lifestyle will be up and running in full force.
But that simply can’t happen until this horrible crisis is under control. We all have obligation to do our part to make that happen. Frankly, we think it’s a small price to pay to protect yourself, your loved ones and friends from a virus that could make them suffer greatly and possibly claim their lives.