Protestors in Florida are demanding that gyms and fitness centers open up now, rather than in Phase 2
Today, WFLA News reported that 20-30 people in Clearwater, Florida, are taking to the streets outside the Pinellas County Courthouse and demanding that their gyms reopen. Protestors are shown doing squats and pull-ups to drive their fitness point home. While parts of the country have been slowly opening back up, gyms in Florida remain closed until the state reaches Phase Two of Governor Ron DeSantis’s reopening plan.
Phase 1, which became effective May 4, allowed restaurants and retail businesses to open their doors and allow only 25 percent capacity in their facilities. Hospitals and doctors’ offices are allowed to start performing elective procedures (except for Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties). Schools will remain closed for the school year until further notice. As far as business offices go, employees are allowed to come back to the office, but only a quarter of the office can be filled at any given time, and social distancing is still “strongly encouraged.”
Floridians have grown impatient, wondering when Phase 2 will be implemented. However, the governor seems to be basing his decisions on “considering medical data in consultation with state health officials.” Aka, he’s waiting until the experts say when it’s safest (however, it’s important to note that many medical professionals have spoken out about how it’s way too early for states to be opening up — period).
The governor’s “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step” recovery plan communicates that Phase 2 will only happen after the “successful conclusion of the first phase” which means “a downward trajectory of the syndromic and epidemiology criteria while maintaining adequate health care capacity.” This also means “no evidence of a rebound or any kind of resurgence of coronavirus cases.”
Phase 2 entails the reopening of bars, pubs, and nightclubs (but only at 50 percent capacity), and restaurants will be able to increase their capacity to 75 percent. Not only will gyms be able to operate, but even sporting events will be held (just at 50 percent capacity, though). Theme parks (like Disney World) may also reopen. It’s unclear when this will happen, exactly.
States across the country are treating the reopening process differently, though. South Carolina, for instance, is allowing fitness centers (along with public pools) to open May 18. Other close-contact services will be open for business, such as hair and nail salons, spas, tanning services, and tattoo parlors. Like Florida, South Carolina will have protocols in place, like a certain capacity for each business. Another example is Georgia, which already reopened some businesses in late April and has been relaxing safety protocols.
While the uncertainty and lack of clear direction across the country is frustrating, many fear that reopening the states too soon will lead to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and take us back to where we were two months ago.
Just today, infectious disease expert Dr. Fauci warned the Senate that Americans could face “needless suffering and death” if we’re too hasty about rebooting the country. In an email before today’s hearing, he stated that, “The major message that I wish to convey to the Senate HLP committee tomorrow is the danger of trying to open the country prematurely. If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to ‘Open America Again,’ then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country. This will not only results in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal.”
Former director or the CDC added that, “We’re not reopening based on science. We’re reopening based on politics, ideology and public pressure. And I think it’s going to end badly.” In fact, the Wharton model projects that, by opening too soon, 233,000 more people will die from the coronavirus.
Ultimately, there’s no “easy” solution. By keeping states closed, unemployment will continue to skyrocket. But by opening businesses and relaxing safety precautions too soon, we risk hundreds of thousands of illnesses and deaths, on top of hospitals getting overrun with cases and not having the resources to manage. And that means, like Dr. Fauci stated, we’d only have to close down states (again), making the situation even more financially disastrous.
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