Opinion: Florida or Floriduh? As it battles COVID-19 surge, the Sunshine State proves itself as weirdly defiant as ever

I spent nearly 20 years residing in Florida and even I’m hard-pressed to choose the second that stood out as my weirdest.

There was the time that feral hogs roamed by my suburban neighborhood, placing a bunch of faculty youngsters ready for the morning bus in jeopardy.

Or the time an aged driver practically ran me off the street accidentally, however nonetheless boldly requested for instructions to his supposed location once I stepped out of my automotive to examine for attainable harm.

And let’s not overlook the entire bedlam poll of the 2000 presidential election. I coated it as a journalist and located myself standing nose to nose with civil-rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was main a protest. Naturally, my job was to ask him concerning the rumors that pop star and actress Cher may be in attendance. (Apparently, they have been false.)

All of which works a protracted strategy to explaining that nothing surprises me relating to my former state, together with its present COVID-19 scenario.

‘We will both have a free society or we are able to have a biomedical safety state and I can let you know, Florida, we’re a free state.’

— Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

Florida’s case depend has been growing dramatically in current days, with the Washington Put up recently calling the state “the epicenter of a summer season coronavirus spike.”

The variety of instances has risen 103% during the last 14 days to 18,120, in line with the New York Times tracker. Deaths have risen 12% over the identical interval to 72, bringing the whole variety of COVID-related deaths within the state to 39,403.

Not that different states are in such nice form. In New York, the place I used to be born and raised and the place I returned greater than a decade in the past, instances have risen to 150% to 2,841 during the last 14 days, and coronavirus-related deaths have elevated by 67% to 9, bringing the whole variety of deaths as a result of pandemic to 53,315.

However whereas many states and cities are revisiting their pandemic restrictions, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has defied any requires masks mandates or shutdowns. “We will both have a free society or we are able to have a biomedical safety state and I can let you know, Florida, we’re a free state,” he mentioned earlier this week.

That angle is only Floridian, defiant and unbiased. Say what you’ll, however the state marches to the beat of its personal bizarre drum.

Florida may be very a lot a transient state. It ranks second within the nation, solely behind Nevada, by way of the proportion of non-natives.

Consultants will let you know there’s a lot purpose for that. Start with the truth that Florida may be very a lot a transient state, with loads of non-native residents. Certainly, Florida ranks second in the nation, solely behind Nevada, by way of the proportion of non-natives.

The newcomer inhabitants consists of many seniors, who’re drawn by the year-round sunshine and the very fact Florida doesn’t have a state earnings tax. (Even Gov. DeSantis once referred to Florida as “God’s ready room.”)

The result’s that many Florida residents don’t actually have a lot of a connection to Florida. And by extension, they arguably don’t fear about what anybody else within the state thinks. “They care extra about their house states,” says Brian Crowley, a Florida-based political advisor (and a uncommon native Floridian).

The shortage of group — in my very own expertise residing there — was palpable generally to the purpose of absurdity. I used to go to Miami Marlins video games (again when the workforce was known as the Florida Marlins) and would typically discover that many of the followers within the stands have been rooting for the visiting membership.

After I attended the 2003 World Collection in Miami, which pitted the New York Yankees towards my beloved Fish, because the Florida workforce is typically known as, I practically bought doused with beer from all of the Yankee-loving “Floridians” within the stands each time I cheered for the Marlins.

The place Goofy lives: Florida is house to Disney World and different theme parks.

Garth Vaughan/WDW by way of Getty Photos

There are different elements behind Florida’s weirdness (and go-it-aloneness). Some level to the relentless warmth as being key. “It does make folks’s tempers snap sooner,” says Craig Pittman, a Florida-based author and author of the book, “Oh, Florida!: How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Remainder of the Nation.” Pittman says it explains why Floridians, when pushed to the restrict, attain for the closest plate of spaghetti.

There’s additionally Florida’s standing because the vacationer and theme park capital of the world. It’s a spot the place enjoyable and make-believe are on a regular basis actuality. (I used to say that whereas Florida didn’t have a state earnings tax, it did have an equal in a Disney

annual pass.)

The purpose being that in the event you’re obsessive about using rollercoasters, you might not obsess as a lot about wearing a mask to protect yourself against a deadly virus. “Tourism is about residing for the day and doing what you need,” says Pittman.

All I do know is that life change into rather a lot saner once I left the state and got here again to New York. But it surely additionally grew to become much more boring, although I’ll take boring throughout a world pandemic.

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