Is Florida Prepared to Enter Phase Three?

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Natalie Abrahantes

With COVID-19 still being such an imminent threat, Floridian officials seem to think re-opening takes precedence over resident’s lives.

Audrey Lezcano, Staff Writer

Florida governor Ron DeSantis recently made the decision to open the entire state of Florida into what is known as Phase Three of the pandemic reopening plan. This means the regulations set due to the Coronavirus in Florida will be much less strict, as if the virus was practically gone. Considering case numbers are rising, opening the state into Phase Three is a huge mistake and will likely have detrimental effects on the community.

As the governor pushed for the deregulation of COVID-19 measures in all Florida counties, Miami-Dade and Broward County disagreed with this decision and continued to push for stricter rules regarding the pandemic. In response to this, the governor disregarded the opinion of the local officials and made it so local officials can only enforce certain regulations. Masks are an extremely important method of protection against the virus. However, DeSantis does not seem to see their great importance as masks are recommended but not mandated in Florida. This leaves people who do choose to wear a mask at risk of contracting the virus from others who so irresponsibly refuse to wear them.

Based on his handling of the virus in previous months, it is apparent that DeSantis seems to disregard the dangers of this pandemic and sees COVID-19 as a minimal threat. With this being said, restaurants already at 50 percent capacity would be open at full capacity under Phase Three guidelines. This would allow restaurants to take minimal precautions in regard to the virus, such as not mandating face masks and not following social distancing guidelines in indoor spaces. Restaurants will no longer have to provide disposable cups and utensils, nor include disposable or heavily disinfected menus. The removal of all these precautions will cause people to have double the chances of contracting the virus at a restaurant. Going to a restaurant in  Phase Two was already risky when they were below maximum capacity. Now, it is absolutely unsafe as the risk of exposure is increased in indoor dining.

“Florida is definitely not ready for Phase Three, I honestly think we are barely even ready for Phase Two. Although the cases have been seemingly decreasing, opening all schools, businesses, restaurants and other places where people socialize on a large scale is clearly going to cause a spike in cases and keep the virus lingering around for a longer period of time,” senior Sara Ebrahimi said.

This summer was not ideal for those who enjoy the freedom of traveling during the vacation time. Now travel, which was only allowed for essential purposes, is allowed to take place without any important reason. This means people can travel wherever, whenever and however. This imposes the risk of people spreading the virus to other places and them possibly bringing it back to Florida. The migration of people from state to state has not been uncommon throughout this pandemic. Florida has received a large amount of new residents coming from Northern states. With the new ability to travel more, it may seem like a great idea to get out of the house and see family or friends who live far. However, it is not safe and quite irresponsible, especially because Florida has been an epicenter throughout the pandemic. By leaving the state for vacation, you risk not only catching the virus, but transmitting it to a great deal of others.

The sunshine state, which is home to millions of great sports fans and players, have suffered greatly from not being able to go watch games nor playing. Being in Phase Three means non-professional sports are allowed to take place again, but here are little to no precautions in place for these athletes. As it is difficult to play a sport while wearing a mask, they will not be required in most cases. Most sports require some sort of contact whether it be between players or contact with the same ball. This means players will be more likely to contract the virus from one another. The United States is not yet ready to be playing sports in such a carefree manner.

“I feel as if when we open everything back up the risk of more cases going up is definitely going to be high. Much more places will be open and that means more people will be together and that is how the virus spreads,” freshman Nina Faraldo said.

Some may think transitioning into Phase Three will allow small businesses to survive the pandemic and help improve the economy. Allowing the state to go into Phase Three may be able to help small businesses in some ways but it could also cause them great harm. Not only that, but government officials refuse to pass a stimulus bill, leaving millions unemployed. If there is an increase in cases due to this transition, we may have to return to having much stricter precautions in place. This will in turn harm these small businesses and cause them to be in an even greater predicament then they already were.

Overall, DeSantis’ decision to move Florida into Phase Three imposes great risks on the residents of this state. It is simply irresponsible and dangerous. Once there has been a sufficient decline in cases then the state may have been ready for this transition. Until then, it would be best to heir on the side of precaution and remain in Phase Two. After all, we are just now seeing a decline in cases for the first time. Staying in Phase Two would be the best way to protect the community and those that are most important to us.