When it comes to omicron, Floridians, we're on our own

·4 min read
The wait time for COVID testing at the state testing site at the Sarasota Kennel Club was more than 4 hours on Thursday morning.
The wait time for COVID testing at the state testing site at the Sarasota Kennel Club was more than 4 hours on Thursday morning.

It says something about the current climate of fighting COVID in Florida — a battle now being waged on yet another front with the omicron variant — that the best way to characterize it isn’t by rattling off a litany of facts about surging infections across the state.

Though, yes, the facts are concerning. For example:

• Florida ranks No. 5 among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, according to a USA TODAY Network analysis of data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

COVID omicron surge: Florida ranks 5th among states where virus spreads the fastest. Cases up by 40%

Long lines for tests: Sarasota COVID-19 testing sites continue to see huge demand

• The Johns Hopkins stats also reveal that while Florida makes up only 6.45% of America's population, the state has been responsible for 8.52% of the country's new COVID cases over the past week.

• A study by the University of Florida declares that the “omicron wave in Florida is likely to cause many more infections than occurred during the delta wave, potentially infecting most of the state’s population in this wave alone.”

Still, there may be an even better way to sum up where Floridians currently stand in confronting COVID. And it calls for tweaking a stanza from the classic hit “Let’s Go Crazy,” the oh-so-appropriately titled song by the legendary musician Prince:

“’Cause in this state

Things are much harder than in other states

In this state

You’re on your own!”

And in so many ways, Floridians, we are on our own. We are so on our own.

You can sense it in the anxious eyes of people lined up at packed COVID testing sites, seeking assurances that their suddenly raspy cough isn’t a foreboding sign that they’ve contracted the omicron variant.

You can sense it in the posted signs in countless pharmacies that soberly declare, “We do not have COVID self-test kits in stock.”

And you fully grasp it when you realize that while leaders in other states have responded to the omicron wave by stepping up COVID protocols and encouraging schools to reimplement mask mandates, our Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to make it largely impossible for school districts, local governments and other entities to merely advocate for such common-sense steps, much less employ them.

Indeed far from being the vigilant watch dog that's fiercely intent on keeping COVID from crossing our door, DeSantis is more like some annoying parrot perched in a nearby tree — content to repeatedly croak “Regeneron!” “Regeneron!” after the virus has already passed our threshold and sickened us.

So here’s the deal when it comes to getting through omicron, Floridians:

We're pretty much all we got. And if we’re going to be all we need, let's mince no words about what must happen now.

If you haven’t been wearing a mask, you need to start doing so — at least for the short term.

Hey, if you first have to put on a show of grumbling about your “freedom” being challenged before you don the mask, go ahead. That’s fine: the rest of us will indulge you while you moan.

But could you just put the mask on, for crying out loud?

And if you haven’t been vaccinated, go get vaccinated.

It's amazing that so many Floridians still haven't been vaccinated. If you aren't, it's time to do what's right — and here again we really don’t care how you go about reaching that point.

If you want to openly boast that you’re not getting the vaccine because you don’t “live in fear” while secretly making an appointment at a vaccination site 25 miles away — so that your (false) machismo isn't questioned by your buddies — we’re good with it.

But could you just get the shot, for crying out loud?

Here’s the bottom line, Floridians: Now more than ever we need to fight COVID as one if we hope to ever finally put it in our rear-view mirror.

Heaven knows we sure can't rely on one guy in Tallahassee to do it for us.

— The Sarasota Herald-Tribune Editorial Board

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Editorial: Floridians, we're on our own in the fight against omicron

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