As Florida reopens, peddlers of fear continue to fan flames

Guest Columnist

History has shown that in a pandemic the fear generated by the virus does much more social damage than the virus itself and lasts longer. In the small resort town of Sarasota FL, condo associations and city officials were more than ready to execute the Governor’s stay-at-home order, going so far as close beaches with concrete barriers, padlock tennis courts and shut down all business in the heart of “in season” activity. These activities started the process of fear generation and demonstrated a lack of trust in the citizen.

30 days later, the governor’s order expired and a reopening plan was initiated. But the fear remained, resistance to the reopening was strong and the seeds of mistrust continue.

The media skewed statistics to continue to generate fear. CBS reported that Coronavirus cases were up 100% in Alaska since the reopening,  but they didn’t mention that Alaska only has 10 total deaths for the pandemic. while Alaskan cases did double from 250 to 500, that is nothing  compared to the 373,000 cases in New York.

CNN reported that a hair stylist went to work with symptoms and was in contact with 80 people while she worked for five days. They didn’t report that none of the 80 people tested positive. The stylist was wearing mask and gloves.

In the resort town of Sarasota, fear and mistrust also continued.  Condo associations who closed their swimming pools and exercise facilities were reluctant to open them and reluctant to allow guests and contractors into their buildings. Beaches remained closed and tennis courts remained locked and for several weeks there was no action taken by city officials on the Governor’s reopening initiative.

Finally, the tennis courts and the popular city tennis center, Payne Park,  was reopened but with such restrictions that few ventured out to use them. It appeared to be an attempt to maintain the quarantine, while pretending to reopen.  Pass holders at Payne Park, who paid for tennis, found that they got a harassment program designed to discourage tennis.  Some of the restrictions include:

• Reduced Facility Hours: Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 2:00 pm

• Singles only, No Doubles

• Each player must have a new can of balls that only he/she will touch

• There will be no use of showers, lockers, or seating around courts

• Only one player may utilize the wall at a time, and it must be reserved in advance

• Players are asked to arrive no more than 10 minutes before their start time

• The Exit gate will open 10 minutes prior to each session for players to enter. Front door will remain locked.

• All score cards will be removed from each court

• Ball machines are unavailable

• Players are to remain on one side of the court and remain 6 feet apart when taking breaks

• Players are to use their racquet/foot to pick up tennis balls and hit to opponent

• Players are to leave the court and facility immediately after play and not congregate

• Organized play and programming are suspended

It is rules like this that drive players to either give up the game or resort to playing on the hard courts.  Reopen Payne Park now, without restrictions. It is time to get on the bandwagon and enthusiastically support the governor’s plan and to support our badly damaged business community.

Lawrence E. Mercker is a retired US Air Force Colonel and pilot. He resides in downtown Sarasota with his wife Kathleen who is also a retired Air Force Colonel.  They play tennis and enjoy the view of the Sarasota Bay.

Tags: , , ,

Longboat Key News

4 Responses for “As Florida reopens, peddlers of fear continue to fan flames”

  1. Stacey mak says:

    All well and good but how many new cases have there been in Florida this week?
    It’s ok until it’s one of your loved ones

  2. Terry says:


  3. Christine Talia says:

    I agree!

  4. Kevin Zdebiak says:

    It’s unfortunate that larger publications don’t print articles like this. It’s always been the people and never was the virus. Sadly they will continue for only God knows how long. Nice job. We will continue living our personal lives as we have been to the best of our ability.

Leave a Reply