Racing Against the Inevitable

Guest Columnist

Last week I called for sealing off the island of Longboat Key.

Every town, city, country, in the world has been totally unprepared for this deadly pandemic.

The response was too little, too late — and it led to an inhuman number of needless deaths.

Government officials are now predicting over 240,000 deaths in the US — and this number could double in the long run. Millions could be infected in the next six months.

Florida ranks sixth among the 50 states in the number of deaths from Covid19.

9,585 Floridians are currently infected. If we include those without symptoms or pre-symptomatic, the number could be over 100,000.

Last week Florida had a dramatic surge in Covid19 deaths to 163 — a 43% increase in one day. Deaths in Sarasota doubled to 7. 110 people are infected in Sarasota, as I write this.

And if we include those not tested, the asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic number could well be several thousand.

A young friend of mine from Jacksonville got sick last week with all the symptoms, she stayed in bed with a fever for a week. Her mother, a doctor, told her not to bother getting tested. She surely had Covid19. She is doing OK, but still recovering.

Predictions are that Florida death rates will peak on May 4.

Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier wrote me  “help your neighbors, don’t alarm them, and our community will get through this.”

Whoa? Have we not learned anything?

Isn’t this what Xi Jinping (leader of China), Boris Johnson (Britain’s leader) and President Donald Trump repeatedly said before the nightmare virus clobbered their nations.

Their false optimism resulted in hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

Several weeks ago, the whole country and the media was fixated with images of young Spring Break vacationers crowding Florida beaches.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at the time that he didn’t want to shut down the hotels and restaurant industry, despite desperate pleas from public health officials and doctors. He delayed for two weeks before issuing his “Safer at Home” order. DeSantis exempted large church religious gatherings, a move that health officials predict will further spread the deadly virus.

Do we dare ask how many unnecessary deaths these unenlightened actions will cause?

LBK Mayor Schneier says he doesn’t have the authority to shut down and isolate Longboat Key even in an emergency.

But Florida is a home rule state which means the state’s constitution grants municipalities and their counties the ability to pass laws to govern themselves as they see fit. Florida is unique among the fifty states in how broad these powers are.

Longboat Key is in the cross hairs for the most deadly storm it has ever faced.

So far we have been lucky on our paradise island. There have been about 5 tested infections. But estimates are that 25–40% of the US population will eventually be stricken.  This is nightmare land for LBK with an elderly population whose average age is over 70. The town will be hard hit with a higher proportion of deaths. Older Americans account for 80% of the deaths according to the CDC.

Many towns around the country have isolated themselves in order to stay safe.

In the Florida Keys police set up traffic stops last week to make sure only residents and workers were entering the Keys. Visitors were turned away. Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers said, “This is something we had to do”.

A friend of mine in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, who has been staying in her vacation home for a month, was approached by local police and told she had to leave because she wasn’t a year round resident. Officials in this wealthy resort town are telling visitors, guests and second homeowners not to come.

Officials in North Haven, Maine another wealthy community, banned all nonessential travel and limited arrivals to full time residents. They did soften the resolution “discouraging” non-residents from coming to the island. No one has yet challenged the island’s “stay away” policy.

On North Carolina’s Outer Banks, officials banned anyone, not already a full-time resident, from crossing on to the island, and established police barricades to enforce it.

Mayor Schneier says that I shouldn’t alarm my neighbors; I disagree. We should be very unnerved. Many of us are still not following the best practices of self-quarantine, group size, and social distancing that we should.

Humans are loathe to change but, especially during these dire times, we need brave government officials, and regulations, to keep us safe from one another.

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Longboat Key News

9 Responses for “Racing Against the Inevitable”

  1. Mainland Resident says:

    YES – let’s raise the bridges on both ends of Longboat Key but be careful what you ask for. If you don’t want our service providers to come to you, don’t expect to leave the island and come use ours. Is this what you want? Because the ill will you will create is going to be felt long after you decide to shutter yourselves off with your private beaches still available to you going forward in time. You don’t think the average age of Sarasota city is not over 65? The idea we are all in this together apparently is lost on you. I suggest you stay in your house, lock the doors and vegetate for as long as you wish – if others prefer to actually live life and wow – maybe even to try to earn a dollar and help those less fortunate than themselves, I’m taking that route. Don’t want your pools cleaned fearing they bring disease, see where you get on their list to clean your pool when this is all over. End of that line for sure. You need to start looking outside your own privileged little world. You reap what you sow – remember that.

  2. ghostrider says:

    Really, I ask. How bad can things be if Barbara Corcoran is front and center pitching real estate to the wee folk ?
    Alas, there is a silver lining here. My mail has improved tremendously. I no longer have the botox agent telling me how outdated my house is.
    Does this mean you’re going to keep the pool and lawn people out, as well, while you peek through the blinds at them?
    I believe people should be allowed to run freely in the daisies. Especially if they live in Texas. And at Longboat if a few tons of dead fish didn’t drive you mad two Summers ago, why worry about anything else. You have sand and fiber optic in your future to deal with. Be thankful.
    Lock those gates and keep ’em out . And where is the tennis spa lady when we need her?
    Next up folks is the word: RELAPSE.


  3. Joe Russell says:

    I hope your neighbors and your mayor are paying attention to this! Their actions can save lives!

  4. Robert kenny says:

    Dumbest thing I’ve read this week.

  5. Robert kenny says:

    Wow if they got rid off everyone who didn’t live here full time I wouldn’t have to worry about social distancing because there would only be handful of people on the island. I could ride my bike right down the center of the road. Let my dog run free. Whole beach just for us. Just hope I don’t get sick or hurt and have to go to the hospital because I couldn’t possibly ask people who live off our private island to let me go there it just wouldn’t be fair. Don’t you just hate all those workers coming to our private island with all there noise and cars and those people at the grocery store risking there safety to make sure we eat and have supplies. How rude and unsafe is that. Your fear and disdain for people trying to help us out is incredible. Volunteer lately? Bet not. I hope everyone who comes to our island feels as welcome as I do when I’m downtown at a art show or festival or just to walk around. If you need big brother to tell you what to do and how to live then there are some great places for you to move to like China for one. Have a nice trip

  6. gene jaleski says:

    Right on! By our governments opening up the commercial sector, and coercing people to get the stock market back on track, they will most likely greatly increase my chances of dying from the virus. Why does my government not care about my well being?

  7. Gail Gilvey says:

    Thank-you, I sure hope many read your article. Dis- and Mis-Information from the White House on down to mayors is causing severe ness and deaths. This is not a virus to take lightly, listen to the scientists and doctors not your politicians.
    Alarmist, you are not!

  8. Concerned in Bradenton says:

    Dear Mr. Fleetwood:

    I read with great interest your article on the reasons to close the Key. I agree with you that the Town should shut the borders and allow no one on or off the Key. I, unfortunately, have to be exposed every day to the germs the privileged travelers from Longboat and our surrounding areas carry. I haven’t traveled abroad this year, or for that matter at all. I’ve been busy working hard for residents like you. I am college educated, a local resident of Manatee County, I care for my mother who is in her 80s and lives with me. When I complete my 10-hour day, long hours due to layoff of half of my teammates, I go home to care for her and risk bringing your germs home to her. My customers are from our local Islands and surrounding area, those privileged residents who have not lost their income due to massive layoffs. Daily they clamor into my place of business like there is no mandatory stay-at-home order, flash their checkbooks and buy our products and services like nothing is happening in our world. So, yes, Mr. Fleetwood, lock down the Island, you are as much a risk to those of us working as you infer we are to you.

    The reality, Mr. Fleetwood, is that we are all at risk of this frightening pandemic. It has no discretion, young nurses, young mothers, 20-year-old students, young fathers, police officers, the postal delivery person, the mayor of your town, are all at risk. We are all in this fight together so our residents need to act responsibly and not rely, like a pack of lemmings, on their leader to set the rules or path for out way out of this. We need to act like citizens with care and concern for all fellow man. Wear protective gear, take your shoes off and leave them outside in a box, disinfect items coming into and out of our homes and cars, order curbside pick up of groceries if available, take daily precautions always in all ways. Be responsible for self. Government mandates aren’t working now, so to ask for more is foolhardy. Be a good citizen of the community we live in with care and concern for all, not just self!

  9. Juan Carlos Romano says:

    I love the article I live next to Duran Park and I can see people having fun all day long without taking care about the social distancing and social isolation is INSANE.

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