Within the past few days, Florida residents saw a surge in coronavirus cases, breaking a daily record of 3,822 new cases.
Unfortunately, these new cases aren't halting the number of places reopening in the state. While bars, gyms, movie theaters, even Universal and Sea World are opening with new policies requiring masks and temperature checks, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says these are "local decisions" and he isn't planning to impose a state-wide mask policy.
This surge hits close to home since my college town, Central Florida, found the median age continues to drop lower to 26, compared to Florida's median age of 35. And one of the problems, college bars. Central Florida bars opened back up on June 5 and clearly, college students didn't waste their time, but now many of my close friends are finding out that their one night out will now require at least two weeks of quarantine. In fact, three members of the UCF football team tested positive for the coronavirus after returning to campus for athletic training.
I understand college students feel a sense of invincibility. At the beginning of the outbreak, health officials said only elderly and immuno-compromised were at risk but things are changing. With those changes, we need to adjust our behavior and adopt a more cautious attitude. This is especially important since Seminole County officials said they don't have any plans to enforce a social distancing order or follow CDC guidelines.
Just like most college students, I miss my friends and being able to socialize with them less than six feet away. I miss hugging my best friends, especially those who recently graduated from college. This wasn't what we expected, but we can celebrate in our own way. Going out to a crowded bar, where bartenders aren't wearing a mask, is simply irresponsible.
But just because a crowded bar poses a risk, it doesn't mean there aren't ways to see your friends. Be creative! Outdoor dining is still a thing, order takeout and socialize six feet away from your friend. If you need a drink that badly, go to the liquor store and actually purchase good quality alcohol. Not only will it probably be better than what college bars serve, but cheaper in the long run.
CNN recently published an article about 16 friends who all tested positive for the virus after going out to a bar. The general consensus among the group of friends: "It's too soon." While I am anxious and eager for the world to get to normal and have words such as "pandemic" or "outbreak" and "social distancing" disappear, we need to remember it is still too soon.