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  • - Coronavirus can still spread outside!

  • Florida, Florida, Florida.

  • Known for it's sunshine, old folks,

  • and those Florida man stories.

  • You know Florida's one of several states

  • trying to open its economy,

  • and for coastal cities that means their life blood.

  • The beaches.

  • But, I've been living

  • with my Florida parents,

  • and I couldn't imagine going out to the beach right now.

  • It felt too soon.

  • But when my coworkers heard the beaches were reopening,

  • there was some disagreement.

  • - I've lived in Florida for four years.

  • There's a hundred percent chance that

  • people will be there crowded,

  • especially in that part

  • it's Tampa area,

  • - Yeah.

  • - They like to party.

  • They are going out, I will put all my money on it.

  • - It's also gonna be a Monday.

  • Like what are people--

  • - Monday's are beach days,

  • everyday is a beach day in Florida.

  • - I did look up the weather it looks nice.

  • - Say it's not gonna be crowded,

  • I have faith in Floridians.

  • (bouncy music)

  • - I got up at the crack of dawn,

  • and biked to the grand reopening of the beach,

  • expecting to see crowds of people eager to come back.

  • But...

  • I'm really tired,

  • and no one's here but these...

  • goddamn seagulls.

  • And they definitely weren't social distancing.

  • I thought I saw a share of patrolling.

  • And when I went closer,

  • it was actually Turtle Patrol.

  • The turtle cops.

  • Honestly this isn't what I expected

  • and I am really impressed with the Floridians here,

  • for not being here, I guess.

  • But when I got back, my mom wasn't convinced.

  • Here's my mom.

  • I just got back from the--

  • - Sorry. - Thanks for opening that.

  • - Sorry.

  • - [Sarah] Would you be surprised to hear that there was like

  • nobody at the beach?

  • - Well not really 'cause it's like 7 a.m. right?

  • Go back in a couple hours

  • I bet it will be totally different.

  • - [Sarah] Okay.

  • I'll go back in a couple hours

  • but I think people will still be pretty good.

  • I thought there would be throwings of people just then.

  • - I hope people will be staying apart from each other.

  • We'll see.

  • - We would see.

  • But first, I had to interview someone official.

  • Luckily, my mom had some surprising connections.

  • Wait, mom can you say what you just said again?

  • - You know the former mayor lives right down the street.

  • - I did not know that.

  • Do you think she would let me interview her?

  • - She's a really nice person, I do.

  • - Okay.

  • Since I'm not really allowed to interview anyone

  • in the traditional method,

  • I'm gonna try this oar,

  • see if I can turn it into something.

  • I rigged up a paddle mic.

  • Would you look at that?

  • Pretty cool.

  • Tested it on the dogs,

  • Hey don't bite it.

  • Don't bite it.

  • (dog barking)

  • Okay so I'm bringing my mom to be my

  • assistant camera op,

  • and we are going to interview

  • the former mayor of St. Pete

  • to see what she thinks about the beaches.

  • She said go in through the back gate.

  • This feels like we're doing something illegal again.

  • Deborah are you up there?

  • Unfortunately the Romeo and Juliet set up...

  • Lift it up higher.

  • Didn't really work.

  • We're gonna have to do the phone call.

  • So, I interviewed her via cell phone.

  • - I've been a resident in Florida since 1985.

  • And I was interim mayor

  • of the city of St. Pete Beach, Florida.

  • - So what kind of decisions

  • does the local government have to make

  • in this pandemic?

  • - Their responsibility is surely to keep the public safe.

  • They're encouraging people to wear masks.

  • In this instance since the governor opened the beaches,

  • they had to decide how they were going to do that.

  • - Do you feel like they waited

  • long enough to reopen the beaches?

  • - I'm not sure opening the beaches this early

  • is good only because I don't want people to think

  • that the pandemic is still ongoing.

  • We really need to be concerned about that

  • and concerned about people's health.

  • I, like everybody else,

  • just want to be cautious about crowds and crowd control.

  • The other side of the coin is people need to

  • get out of their apartments,

  • their condos, their homes.

  • I think it was a tough decision.

  • I think maybe a different type of opening,

  • a more controlled opening, would have been a better choice.

  • - If I'm gonna go to the beach today,

  • do you have any advice?

  • - If you really want to go to the beach

  • and not have to be in a crowded,

  • difficult situation, go to the county beaches.

  • Practice social distance.

  • I hope the police and sheriff's department

  • are enforcing that because it's probably

  • the most important thing.

  • - [Sarah] Thank you.

  • After talking to Deb,

  • I realized I had to go back to the beach

  • to see what was really going on.

  • So my mom and I left to scope it out.

  • And two hours later,

  • it was packed.

  • Mom pull it down I can't hear you.

  • - For eleven o'clock on a Monday,

  • it's kind of shockingly busy to me.

  • This is the time of year where the weekends are busy

  • but the weekdays are usually a bit calmer,

  • so people are obviously rushing to the beaches.

  • - [Sarah] Do you think people are following

  • the six feet rule right now?

  • - It does not look like it to me,

  • does it look like it to you?

  • - [Sarah] No. - No.

  • - [Sarah] Yeah I think I need to walk through it.

  • - That's about six feet.

  • - [Sarah] I wanted to see if people were staying

  • six feet away,

  • so I brought my six foot paddle,

  • but it honestly seemed to busy for that.

  • Really felt like a normal beach day

  • and that's what made me nervous.

  • - I do worry that the people coming here

  • the beaches will make people more relaxed

  • about their safety in all areas of life,

  • not just coming to the beach.

  • Like that they won't be taking big precautions

  • as they should be at the grocery stores

  • and things like that.

  • I hope that we don't see what happens during spring week.

  • I hope that people really wear masks,

  • and stay six feet apart.

  • - So after I got back,

  • I called Dr. Mark Keim.

  • CEO of DisasterDoc,

  • and a former CDC Disaster Scientist.

  • - I was the incident manager there for anthrax,

  • and as well as the Indian Ocean tsunami.

  • - So Florida beaches are reopening.

  • Are you concerned?

  • - Yes, I think that many people are concerned actually.

  • - Do you think it's too soon?

  • - Yeah, absolutely.

  • And what our best science is telling us

  • is that it is indeed to soon to reopen,

  • especially when we're talking about the beaches in Florida.

  • Cases are increasing,

  • they're not decreasing as they should be,

  • and that's really our defining criteria for reopening is

  • the symptoms, the cases, and the status of the hospitals.

  • So those are the three different things that we look for,

  • and that needs to show a 14 day decrease.

  • It tells us what we need to do

  • in order to cross these gates,

  • and each phase has a gate.

  • So here we are standing in the first phase,

  • and we need to earn our way to that next gate.

  • - Okay, so you're saying Florida just kind of

  • jumped over the gates instead of opening the gates?

  • - That's it.

  • Yeah, you know I mean they must be in good shape

  • to jump the gate right?

  • - That doesn't make sense to me because

  • Florida has a much older population on average.

  • - That's a good point.

  • Perhaps there are ways that the beach

  • may be safe,

  • but it's very problematic and difficult to do so

  • when you go from absolutely closed to absolutely open.

  • Mike Tyson said, "Everyone has a plan

  • "until you get punched in the face."

  • And you know,

  • science has a familiar, similar way of

  • waking us up with a punch in the face.

  • - As a fellow Floridian to help them,

  • do I have to punch them in the face

  • to get them to know?

  • Or is there another way I can help get the word out?

  • - Right.

  • You know, I'm not as successful as Mike was

  • with punching people in the face,

  • I find the information is actually the great--

  • - So punch them with information.

  • - Maybe that's it, right?

  • - [Sarah] I tried to symbolically punch

  • my fellow Floridians in the face with facts.

  • I boated out toward the beaches

  • and attempted to inform the public of what I learned.

  • Continue to wear your masks!

  • Coronavirus can still spread outside!

  • Nobody seemed to be listening.

  • That, or my font was too small.

  • - Is the issue of reopening beaches

  • could potentially cause a spike in these Corona cases.

  • It's just difficult to maintain and control

  • a social distancing of six feet.

  • And our breaths actually carry a cloud of this virus.

  • And when two people stand within six feet of each other,

  • actually that cloud collects between the two,

  • and we share that cloud in our inhale.

  • When we pass by people that may pass us on the beach,

  • their cloud actually passes through our cloud

  • and we can breath in those things as well.

  • Requiring people to stay apart from each other

  • and enforcing that,

  • could help people to reopen the beach

  • and maintain it safely, but once again,

  • I'm not the expert on enforcing that

  • on a 35 mile beach. - Right.

  • My mom texted me in the middle of the interview,

  • to tell me the police had actually shut down the beach

  • to everyone but locals because it had reached

  • over a hundred percent capacity.

  • - Down at Pass-A-Grille,

  • the city commission decided to

  • open 700 of the 1000 parking spots

  • that they have down there,

  • that means 300 are closed.

  • It quickly reached capacity,

  • and we had to shut off Pass-A-Grille this morning

  • to only residents down there.

  • - [Sarah] Showing just how difficult it is

  • to keep beach goers from going to the beach.

  • And that certainly creeped me out.

  • So if you really wanna go to the beach,

  • I mean what can you do?

  • - You should social distance.

  • Not the kind that's sneaky,

  • maybe it's six feet maybe it's not.