Q&A of the Day – Why aren’t South Florida’s beaches open yet?

Q&A of the Day – Why aren’t South Florida’s beaches open yet?

Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods. 

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Twitter: @brianmuddradio

Facebook: Brian Mudd https://www.facebook.com/brian.mudd1

Today’s entry: What's going on with these stupid regulations? I can go play basketball, I can go to Publix, but I can't go to the beach? Nothing more than manifested absurdity. It's not based on science.It's not based on reality. It’s based on the desire for power and control.

Bottom Line: From the onset of this pandemic my goal has been the same as always. Establish the facts and go where they take us. In the early going, the facts were generally in favor of the stay-at-home orders we received in South Florida and eventually across the state. The facts have changed considerably over the past month and President’s Trump 3-Phase reopening plan provided a road map for state and local governments to use and measure their performance against. Two of the three guidelines operate in two-week positive trends. What we now know is that Florida’s peak was over a month ago. Florida’s peak day for cases, which also happened to be the peak day for South Florida generally, was April 3rd.So,at this point, we don’t just have two weeks' worth of positive trends in South Florida, we have more than four. Still Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties have accounted for most of the state’s cases – so I understand the added concern by officials as they look at the timing of next steps. The tri-county has produced 59% of Florida’s cases and we account for 29% of the state’s population. Clearly any reopening measures in South Florida carry more risk than the rest of the state. But, now to your point. What about facts? What about science? What about data? We hear they’re being used to make decisions but are they really (as it pertains to something like the reopening of beaches)? On Friday Governor DeSantis had this to say in Duval county – where beaches have now been open for over two weeks...

A lot of people thought it was the most significant thing that ever happened... like it was Lolapooloza on the beach. Outdoor transmission is less likely than transmission in closed environments. The DHS study said that sunlight rapidly killed the virus in aerosols, and it said that outdoor daytime environments are lower risk for transmission of the virus than indoor environments.

Those are the facts, that’s the understood science and as for the data? Not only isn’t there enhanced risk of reopening beaches in Florida’s counties which have had their beaches reopened for over two weeks...they’ve had the lowest week for diagnosed cases since testing began. In fact,aside from beaches, the reopening efforts in states that began April 24th like Georgia have seen remarkable drops in new cases as well. On April 24th, when Georgia began phase one reopening, they were averaging 677 new cases per day. Georgia is now averaging 302. That’s a 55% decrease in new cases since the most aggressive reopening plan began in the state sharing the largest border with ours. I could cite similar examples from across the country but it’s not necessary. Having extensively analyzed the data from areas that have opened beaches and states with the earliest reopening measures across the country...there is no data suggesting an increase in new cases as result. So why are we seeing policy to the contrary in South Florida?

Maybe it’s what you’re concerned about...politicians eager to continue to exert their influence over our lives in a controlling way. I suspect it’s something slightly different. Fear. Remember when the earliest recommendations from federal healthcare authorities suggested masks weren’t effective for combating the spread? That really wasn’t true was it? Studies have shown at least an 80% reduction in spread when masks are used. It was to insure in the earliest days of the pandemic that healthcare professionals and first responders would have the best possible supply of masks. Officials were concerned about a run on masks leaving those on the frontlines compromised. What’s this have to do with reopening SFL’s beaches? 

No local officials want to be responsible for a spike in cases if something were to go wrong with reopening measures. There are only so many people who can cram into a grocery store, a park, a basketball court, a golf course, etc. With over 86 miles of beaches between Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade – you get the idea. Public officials wouldn’t be in a position to effectively manage a crush of people on the beaches if it were to occur. To the premise of your note – South Florida’s beaches remaining closed isn’t based on science or data. It’s based on fear. Hopefully that’s something we can move beyond rather quickly – sooner than maskgate.

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