Opinion: Florida or Floriduh? As it battles COVID-19 surge, the Sunshine State proves itself as weirdly defiant as ever

I spent virtually twenty years residing in Florida and even I’m hard-pressed to choose the second that stood out as my weirdest.

There was the time that feral hogs roamed via my suburban neighborhood, placing a gaggle of faculty children ready for the morning bus in jeopardy.

Or the time an aged driver almost ran me off the street by chance, however nonetheless boldly requested for instructions to his supposed location once I stepped out of my automotive to examine for doable harm.

And let’s not overlook the entire bedlam poll of the 2000 presidential election. I lined it as a journalist and located myself standing nose to nose with civil-rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was main a protest. Naturally, my job was to ask him concerning the rumors that pop star and actress Cher could be in attendance. (Apparently, they had been false.)

All of which works a protracted solution to explaining that nothing surprises me in terms of my former state, together with its present COVID-19 state of affairs.

‘We will both have a free society or we will have a biomedical safety state and I can inform you, Florida, we’re a free state.’

— Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

Florida’s case rely has been rising dramatically in latest days, with the Washington Submit recently calling the state “the epicenter of a summer season coronavirus spike.”

The variety of instances has risen 103% during the last 14 days to 18,120, in response to the New York Times tracker. Deaths have risen 12% over the identical interval to 72, bringing the whole variety of COVID-related deaths within the state to 39,403.

Not that different states are in such nice form. In New York, the place I used to be born and raised and the place I returned greater than a decade in the past, instances have risen to 150% to 2,841 during the last 14 days, and coronavirus-related deaths have elevated by 67% to 9, bringing the whole variety of deaths as a result of pandemic to 53,315.

However whereas many states and cities are revisiting their pandemic restrictions, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has defied any requires masks mandates or shutdowns. “We will both have a free society or we will have a biomedical safety state and I can inform you, Florida, we’re a free state,” he mentioned earlier this week.

That perspective is solely Floridian, defiant and unbiased. Say what you’ll, however the state marches to the beat of its personal bizarre drum.

Florida may be very a lot a transient state. It ranks second within the nation, solely behind Nevada, by way of the share of non-natives.

Specialists will inform you there’s loads motive for that. Start with the truth that Florida may be very a lot a transient state, with loads of non-native residents. Certainly, Florida ranks second in the nation, solely behind Nevada, by way of the share of non-natives.

The newcomer inhabitants contains many seniors, who’re drawn by the year-round sunshine and the actual fact Florida doesn’t have a state earnings tax. (Even Gov. DeSantis once referred to Florida as “God’s ready room.”)

The result’s that many Florida residents don’t actually have a lot of a connection to Florida. And by extension, they arguably don’t fear about what anybody else within the state thinks. “They care extra about their residence states,” says Brian Crowley, a Florida-based political advisor (and a uncommon native Floridian).

The shortage of neighborhood — in my very own expertise residing there — was palpable typically to the purpose of absurdity. I used to go to Miami Marlins video games (again when the group was referred to as the Florida Marlins) and would typically discover that a lot of the followers within the stands had been rooting for the visiting membership.

After I attended the 2003 World Sequence in Miami, which pitted the New York Yankees towards my beloved Fish, because the Florida group is typically referred to as, I almost received doused with beer from all of the Yankee-loving “Floridians” within the stands each time I cheered for the Marlins.


The place Goofy lives: Florida is residence to Disney World and different theme parks.

Garth Vaughan/WDW through Getty Photos

There are different components behind Florida’s weirdness (and go-it-aloneness). Some level to the relentless warmth as being key. “It does make individuals’s tempers snap quicker,” says Craig Pittman, a Florida-based author and author of the book, “Oh, Florida!: How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Remainder of the Nation.” Pittman says it explains why Floridians, when pushed to the restrict, attain for the closest plate of spaghetti.

There’s additionally Florida’s standing because the vacationer and theme park capital of the world. It’s a spot the place enjoyable and make-believe are on a regular basis actuality. (I used to say that whereas Florida didn’t have a state earnings tax, it did have an equal in a Disney

annual pass.)

The purpose being that should you’re obsessive about using rollercoasters, you might not obsess as a lot about wearing a mask to protect yourself against a deadly virus. “Tourism is about residing for the day and doing what you need,” says Pittman.

All I do know is that life grow to be quite a bit saner once I left the state and got here again to New York. But it surely additionally turned much more boring, although I’ll take boring throughout a world pandemic. | Opinion: Florida or Floriduh? Because it battles COVID-19 surge, the Sunshine State proves itself as weirdly defiant as ever


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