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Longboat Key is Blessed: No Covid in Six Weeks

BLAKE FLEETWOOD
Guest Writer
fleetwood@lbknews.com

A wonderful paradise, with lovely beaches, spectacular sunsets, and almost no coronavirus, Longboat Key is amazingly fortunate. There have been no new infections on our island since March 21.

It is almost as if they pulled up drawbridges between Longboat Key and the rest of Florida.

In total there seems to have been only 13 coronavirus infections on the island, according to Fire-Rescue Chief Paul Dezzi — a number twice as large as the Florida Health Department website reports.   Although there are no accurate death records (from Sarasota Memorial or the Medical Examiner) there are anecdotal reports of 4 to 5 deceased.  Famed playwright Terrance McNally was one of the first deaths. He lived at the luxury Water Club condo and apparently brought the infection with him when he traveled from New York City

Another publicized infection occurred at the Privateer Condo. Association President  Ellen Parker sent an email to the other residents explaining that one resident was in the Covid-19 unit at Sarasota Memorial and that his wife was in quarantine at the condo. The resident recovered, according to Parker, and no one else got sick. “The residents were very careful, and from now on, we all have to take care of ourselves.”

A few other condos have had similar experiences, but they are reluctant to talk for obvious reasons — frightening the residents and depressing real estate values. One resident is reported to have died of coronavirus at the pricey Queens Harbor complex in the gated Bay Isles development.

On Memorial Day weekend the beaches were busy again with many outside visitors, but most people practiced social distancing or stayed in their bubbles or expanded bubbles — multi-generation family reunions and close friends. Longboat Key restaurants were careful about distancing, but St. Armands Circle shops and restaurants and beaches were crowded with mainlanders.

LBK Town Manager Tom Harmer issued a new executive order on May 29 that allows public beach access parking starting June 1. The Bayfront Park basketball, pickleball, and tennis courts will remain closed to the public.

Mayor Ken Schneier reports that 90% of the shoppers at Publix were wearing masks and that his main worry was people waiting on top of each other outside of restaurants, particularly the pizza place in St. Armands Circle.

He warns that there may be spikes in the future, but for the most part LBK residents are smart and have been “really, really good.”

How should LBK residents, most of whom are over 70 years of age and vulnerable, start to practice an intelligent lockdown? Are we getting the practical nuanced advice that we need?

The CDC released a 60 page guide this month on how to safely reopen. But it does not cover the basic questions that we all face, according to Julia Marcus, a Professor at the Harvard Medical School.

What’s the safest way for families to start socializing with other households? How can you begin seeing friends or dating again while still minimizing risk?

In Canada some provinces are looking at new measures, borrowed from New Zealand, such as the “double bubble”, “family bubble”, and “new bubble.” New Brunswick public officials stress that once you combine two households, that’s the way it stays .

It’s an attempt to loosen restrictions and alleviate social isolation  while still keeping the coronavirus at bay.

Meanwhile, Dutch public health officials are advising single men and women to seek a “seksbuddy” (sex buddy) to alleviate the strains of staying 1.5 meters apart when socializing.

Dutch officials concede that “it makes sense that as a single you also want to have physical contract” while warning that the risks of such intimacy should be managed. They also warn that you should not have sex at all with your partner, if you suspect coronavirus.

Linda Duits, a Dutch journalist, argued in an opinion piece that “sex was a human right.”

“Proximity and physical contact are not a luxury, they are basic needs. If we have learned anything from the AIDS epidemic, it is that not having sex is not an option.”

As establishments reopen — with vacation rentals and restaurants attracting thousands of outsiders — Longboat Key residents, most of whom are “at risk” should proceed with vigilance and must continue practicing harm reduction, according to Mr. Chuck Henry from the Florida Department of Health.

Henry complimented Longboat residents for their “great work” — following health guidelines, hand washing, and proper social distancing — in a session with Town officials. He noted that Longboat Key had an early infection spike in March, but the Town has really kept things under control since then. He noted for the last three months, most residents had stayed put on the island. But warned that things may get dicey going forward, as outsiders crowd in with restrictions easing.

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1 Response for “Longboat Key is Blessed: No Covid in Six Weeks”

  1. Yvonne Boudreau says:

    What about this article that states that within the last two weeks LBK Publix had an employee test positive for Covid.

    https://www.heraldtribune.com/business/20200710/sarasota-manatee-publix-and-whole-foods-employees-test-positive-for-covid-19

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