On Friday, April 17th, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis gave local governments authority to reopen state-run beaches. Many of them announced they would begin reopening the beaches to be used for walking, biking, swimming, and fishing but remained cautious of allowing people to hold events or large gatherings on the beach fronts.
Unfortunately, within the first hours of the beaches opening for business, the last thing that people seemed to be worrying about is social distancing. It prompted the 'Florida Morons' hashtag to start trending with jaw-dropping images of beaches packed shoulder to shoulder of people nowhere close to being six feet apart or wearing masks. All coming days after Florida set a record of new coronavirus cases.
People describe the initial beach ban as 'torture' because they couldn't get outside, but many don't realize just how dangerous the close proximity can be, even in the sunlight. As many students on spring break learned the hard way. However, Florida lawyer Daniel Uhlfelder has a plan to enlighten people on the dangers of heading out to the beach thinking that it's perfectly safe.
Inspired by New Zealand's famous 'swimreaper,' a public service campaign started to educate the public on water safety, Uhlfelder will start traveling to all state-run public beaches dressed up as the Grim Reaper beginning on May 1st.
His goal is to get people to realize they need to stay home to stop the spread of coronavirus because it was impossible to get through to the younger crowds who think they're immune to the dangers that social contact poses.
Many of you have asked if I am willing to travel around Florida wearing Grim Reaper attire to the beaches and other areas of the state opening up prematurely. The answer is absolutely yes. Beginning May 1 we will hit the road here in state. Please retweet and spread the word. pic.twitter.com/UO7QKg161n— Daniel Uhlfelder (@DWUhlfelderLaw) April 22, 2020
Uhlfelder says they'll use the moment to teach people about social distancing and raise money for Democrats who are taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously.
We will use this as a campaign to ensure people know the importance of staying home while supporting Democrats running for federal office including Matt Gaetz opponent Democrat Phil Ehr and Democrat Christy Smith running in a special election May 12. https://t.co/tK8AQHKEvV— Daniel Uhlfelder (@DWUhlfelderLaw) April 22, 2020
The campaign has already raised over $3,400 towards its goal and seems to be receiving a positive reaction all around.
Florida initially claimed it was OK to open the beaches because the state had already stopped the virus from peaking and ultimately 'flattened the curve,' but many experts disagreed and highlighted the dangers people now face due to increasing pressure from Trump for Governors to reopen the economy and public spaces.
This Miami TV Investigative Reporter showed that Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis actually CUT BACK BY FIFTY PERCENT the number of #coronavirus tests before he started reopening the Florida Beaches. Less tests mean less diagnosed cases. Look at this graph. pic.twitter.com/cwEGADZXSB— Trial Lawyer Richard (@TrialLawyerRich) April 22, 2020
Hopefully, Uhlfelder's efforts are as effective as New Zealand's campaign which has garnered praise for how effective it's been in educating the public on the dangers of swimming. The account has gained over 445k followers and warns people of the dangers of drinking around water and swimming near rocky outcroppings can really be. Here are some of the best.
The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.