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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Florida Hunger Games

In Florida some pharmacies, CVS and Walmart, have now expanded who can get the COVID 19 vaccine. I'm now eligible but that doesn't mean I necessarily can walk in and get the vaccine.

Yesterday I got onto CVS website and tried to schedule my vaccination but they were booked. I tried it again today. Still booked.

I got onto Walmart's website and attempted to schedule my vaccine. After the first 2 closest locations were booked I tried the third closest and there was an 11:40 appointment for next week. I quickly chose it but then was deflated when it said that appointment was already taken. I tried a couple other locations going as far as 30 miles from my home. All booked.

It feel like I'm in the Hunger Games. If you're lucky you get an appointment but like filing unemployment in Florida you just have to keep at daily. I'm pretty adept at using the computer and scheduling appointments online but I wonder about older people who can't maneuver online well. Are these people getting their vaccines?

Just about everybody in Florida knows there's been vaccination sites set up in wealthy retired communities but what about those living in the "wrong" zip codes?

Read one such story here. These stories are all over media. Simply type in DeSantis Covid mishandling or DeSantis vaccinating donors or even try DeSantis calls for DOJ investigation.

Its pretty disgusting that people can't get vaccinated. I think we need something more organized. Its a true shit show here. I will continue my plight because I want to see how long it actually takes to schedule the vaccine.

I'm guessing if I try daily I may be able to get it scheduled within the next 30 days but I'm not holding my breath. How long do you think it will take?

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Florida's success...

 As a Florida resident for over 20 years I'm sick and tired of the US view on Florida that we are wide open and a haven for those seeking refuge from restrictions related to the virus. Honestly, many of us don't want you here if that's why you're visiting. We've been working without government guidance to keep people safe.

I'm tired of watching the governor take credit for something that he shouldn't get to take responsibility for. None of the elected officials should be able to take credit for.

Yes, Florida is wide open. No COVID restrictions. This part is true but what is never discussed or printed in papers is how the people and businesses in Florida have in the absence of state mandated restrictions taken the matters into their own hands.

I live in a precarious place, in a small county that is mostly suburban/rural with a population of approximately 230,000 and on the edge (less than 1 mile) of one of Florida's largest cities with a population of approximately 1,000,000. I see the stark differences between both worlds.

When I leave my house to head to the grocery store or post office I enter the city. People are wearing masks, businesses have restrictions in place, not all restaurants are open to 100% capacity and there is distance between the tables. Fast food restaurants are drive-thru only etc.

When I go into my own county about half the population are wearing masks, stores have few restrictions and most restaurants are open to 100% capacity.

Many workers who could work virtually were sent home in March and many of those people are still working from home and new hires are trained and work from home. Many residents even without lockdown measures in place aren't heading out into the public or at least large public gatherings. Many of us are watching out for our families and others.

Its the businesses and residents of our largest cities that in my opinion have kept our COVID numbers from reaching higher than they have. WE have taken responsibility. Not all people of Florida but many. Our businesses have stepped up.

I have four book events this year. All of them in Florida and as each approaches I'm sent information of precautions the venues are taking. I can say they aren't taking the virus lightly.

Florida is a tourist state. People flock from around the world to visit our beaches and the parks in Orlando. Businesses need people to stay in business. Don't come to Florida expecting to hang out at the resort without wearing a mask or enjoy a day at Disney without following precautions.

No or few businesses in Florida wants to be responsible for spreading the virus around the nation or the world. I will also say that there are groups that don't care about restrictions. Lets take the CPAC convention this weekend. Watch it on YouTube. People are packed into the convention indoors, sitting side by side without masks. These people will go home and some will take the virus with them because its likely some at the convention have the virus and don't know it yet or simply don't care. 

Unfortunately, these things do happen and many Floridians frown when they do. Let's take the super bowl in Tampa, Florida. Restrictions were put in place at the stadium but what about the tailgaters? What about those who gathered in sports bars or their living rooms across the US? Last week the US saw an uptick in cases. Can it be related to the super bowl? I don't have that answer but wouldn't be surprised if at least in some small way it was.

If we see an uptick in cases in approximately 2 weeks can we at least assume that it may have something to do with the large convention in Orlando this weekend.

Now, lets get into the vaccine rollout in Florida. In December health care workers, residents and workers in nursing homes were the first to start getting vaccinated. Next the governor added those 65 and older and at some point those with comorbidities have been added. I'm unsure if there is an age factor and wouldn't be surprised if it varies per county. Nearly three months later no one else has been able to get the vaccine.

As a tourist state I question very seriously why our frontline workers haven't been added to the vaccination list. Many of these people want the vaccine and have been the ones keeping our economy afloat yet they can't get vaccinated.

The benefit to vaccinating them (service workers, teachers, police officers, retail associates, hospitality, firemen, EMTs, agriculture etc,) isn't merely because they should be on a moral basis but vaccinating them (people who deal with the public) would add a layer of protection across the state for everyone; residents and non residents alike of all age groups.

Let's look at California. As of January 14 they had over 40,000 cases. Now February 27, they are down to just 4,400 cases. That's a massive drop. An impressive drop. California has twice the population of Florida and is at least in some part a touristy state as well ( in some areas).

Now here are Florida's unimpressive numbers. Florida peaked Jan.7 with almost 20,000 cases. Now, February 27 we have 5,900 cases. One has to ask what is California doing that Florida isn't? They are vaccinating phases 1A and 1B which includes healthcare workers, nursing home residents and staff, those 65 and older and frontline workers such as teachers, police officers, food and agriculture workers. California seems to at least have gotten vaccinations correct but like anything else related to the virus Florida got it wrong. 

We have half the population of California and if we'd vaccinate according to CDC guidelines could drastically reduce our cases. Heck, maybe even under 1,000 a day. Unfortunately, this is not the case and I wonder if and when anyone will say something about it. Besides those of us living in Florida. 

One last thing. People often are under the assumption that Florida is mostly old retired people so let me dispel that myth. According to the 2020 census 20.9% of the population is 65 and older. People under 18 make up 19.7 percent. That leaves approximately 60% of the population between the ages of 19 and 64. That's our work force. Approximately 80% of Floridians are under the age of 65. It is not the retired people haven non-Floridians think it is. 

Is anyone tracking upticks in cases related to travel to and from Florida? 

Does anyone besides Floridians care if we ever have access to the vaccine? 

Will those of us who are concerned about our fellow Floridians ever have a normal-ish life again?

Will we become or are we the super spreader state?