Full intensive care units, hardly any tests and pandemic restrictions: tens of thousands of Americans are still vacationing in Florida. The USA is therefore threatened with a disaster overall.
Finally holidays! Morgan, a young Maine woman, gets on a plane to Florida . She wants to move from the northernmost state on the east coast of the USA to the southernmost. Palm trees. Sun. Disney world. She would like to spend five wonderful days with her boyfriend in the world-famous amusement park. The hotel is right on the premises. ” We will be picked up directly from the airport in Orlando .”
Morgan says that there are almost no corona restrictions in Disney World. “A year ago they took the temperature of the guests,” she says. In fact, Disney World does not require its visitors to have a vaccination , test, or proof of recovery. Even masks no longer have to be worn everywhere.
Magic with a magnetic effect: Disney World in Orlando (Source: Bastian Brauns)
The Republican Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis wants it too. Shops that turn away customers without masks, tests or vaccinations even face heavy fines. His philosophy as governor is to “protect individual freedom,” he said recently. Everyone should be the blacksmith of his own health.
But it is not that simple in the pandemic. Yes, it’s a tough time, says Morgan on the vacation plane. For the children as well as for themselves. Morgan isn’t vaccinated. Even though she works as a preschool teacher in Maine. She recently had to wear a mask there again because the corona numbers are increasing. “The little ones ask me why I don’t show my face.” She says that she then takes off her mask for a brief moment and says, “Hey, that’s still me.”
For Morgan Florida means: freedom and finally distance from the oppressive everyday life.
For the USA, however, what is happening there could be the beginning of a new corona episode. With an open exit.
A holiday that threatens the whole nation
Because in the USA it is no different than in many countries: The pandemic seems almost forgotten, people want their old life back. And catch up on the missed. On Monday, Labor Day, was comparable to the Labor Day in Germany. The vast majority of Americans were free. Most of them use the long weekend for a little vacation. Above all, she is drawn to the south, to Florida.
You could also say: You are going to the corona hell of the USA voluntarily. Because in the state with its beaches, clubs and huge amusement parks around Orlando, the Covid-19 numbers are exploding like never before since the beginning of the pandemic . Like almost all of the southern United States. Experts have therefore feared for weeks that there could be a rude awakening for the entire United States after this Labor Day. After all, all parents fly their children from Orlando, Miamior Jacksonville back home. “We urgently recommend that anyone who has not been vaccinated not travel,” warned Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of the US health department CDC, at a press conference last week. It was the warning against Florida as a national superspreading event. Morgan and many others did not receive this appeal.
The CDC counted almost 50,000 new Covid 19 cases a day in Florida in mid-August. Converted to the population in Germany, this would correspond to around 200,000 cases per day.
Even if the numbers have recently declined: The intensive care units in many hospitals in Florida are not only occupied down to the last seat. No, they are now so overcrowded that clinics have to switch to other wings and improvise. As good as it can be. Most seriously ill patients are not vaccinated. Important operations have been postponed for weeks.
It is particularly bitter that more people are dying from Corona in Florida than ever. There are days on which more than 1,000 corona deaths are counted. In the southernmost district of Miami-Dade, 15 employees and teachers of schools, including a 30-year-old, recently died. That is why many call the Republican Governor Ron DeSantis only “Ron Death Santis” or “mass murderer”.
Government numbers tricks and tourist records
His government has been criticized for having changed the counting method without further ado. It is no longer the actual date of death but the reporting date that is relevant. That could at least temporarily lead to an only apparent decrease in the number of deaths. Corona statistics are also often tricked into here. The reason for this is obvious: Florida is extremely dependent on tourism. For Orlando, which is considered the world’s tourist capital, guests are an economic life insurance. Accordingly, there is hardly a region in the USA that is so economically susceptible to Covid-19 restrictions.
Call for caution: Orlando has too few intensive care beds (source: Bastian Brauns)
While tens of thousands of people enjoy their unfamiliar freedom in the many Walt Disney and Universal amusement parks, Orlando’s inner city on Labor Day seems deserted. As if the city had given itself a voluntary lockdown . Most of the shops are closed. In the city center in front of a cigar bar called “Corona Cigar Co.” a few men relax in deck chairs and puff the haze into the sky. The heavy smell of tobacco mixes with the warm, humid air. The streets shine from a brief downpour.