Footage of a crowded Florida beach is now raising concerns about the possibility of a more rapid spread of the coronavirus as states attempt to reopen.
Following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) green light to reopen some of the state’s beaches for “essential activities,” reports began circulating about the influx of people out in Jacksonville, Florida. Some reports have suggested the beach was crowded within its first hour of reopening.
Social distancing guidelines have to be enforced at the beaches if they reopen, as the governor said. Additionally, there are certain times beaches are open and sunbathing is not allowed.
Twitter users immediately began expressing concerns and criticizing Florida’s officials and residents. While the beachgoers have been encouraged to practice social distancing, the footage and photos suggest otherwise which has led to mounting scrutiny.
Florida reopened some beaches today & they were packed. I guess in a way it makes perfect Florida-sense. To try to get a little sun so you look healthy at your funeral.#FloridaMorons— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) April 18, 2020
Jacksonville Beach reopened 26 minutes ago. This is a live picture. pic.twitter.com/tC6voQ3BAn— Travis Akers (@travisakers) April 17, 2020
However, multiple officials have defended their decisions to reopen.
“Folks, this could be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life, but please respect and follow these limitations,” Duval County Mayor Lenny Curry said when he announced his reopening of the beach in Jacksonville. “We’ll get back to life as we know it, but we must be patient.”
The beach footage follows DeSantis’ announcement giving governors the green light to reopen beaches at their discretion. He said parks and beaches could be reopened as long as Floridians practice social distancing.
“Do it in a good way. Do it in a safe way,” DeSantis said.
While a new, ever-changing model suggests the curve may be flattening in Florida, health experts with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine warn that the state is not out of the woods yet.
On Friday, the same day beaches reopened, the state reported a record high of more than 1,400 new coronavirus cases.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, the model shows an optimistic projection but the outcomes can change daily. As of Saturday morning, there were more than 24,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state of Florida.