You often see crazy things in Florida, like the couple I saw zipping up the Gulf Coast’s Route 41 on a motorcycle while the passenger was checking her iPhone, neither one of them wearing a helmet. Be careful, guys, that phone is breakable!
The greatest feeling about Florida is the sheer “Gonna ride this hog wherever it takes me” exuberance. I’ve been down there maybe eight or 10 times during the pandemic and arriving in any airport is like crossing the Wall out of East Berlin. Quite a lot of people wear masks in malls and stores, but most don’t. Nobody mask-shames anybody. You don’t need a vaccine card at all, much less have to dig out your Excelsior Pass three times a day.
This is because Florida accepts the basic truth that should have been Washington’s guidance from Day 1: If you’re vaccinated, the COVID-19 emergency is over for you; if you’re not, well, the risk is yours.
Florida schoolchildren have been back in school and unmasked since August 2020. Life is normal for them, except for the amusement value of seeing panicky teachers in masks. New York’s children, like those in many areas where the Democratic Party and its affiliated teachers unions rule, are essentially being used as human shields by educrats committing mass state-sanctioned child abuse until they get good and tired of it. Kids are suffering so badly here that even the New York Times is starting gently to suggest that maybe we should take our hands off our children’s throats — masking them, forbidding them to socialize and exercise and even talk at lunchtime, canceling their extracurriculars, canceling childhood.
The unemployment rate in Florida, heavily dependent on tourism, spiked to 14.2 percent in May 2020, fell to half of that by September and now stands at 4.5 percent (as of November). New York? Peaked at 16.6 percent in April 2020, but remains third-worst in the nation at 6.6 percent. In February 2020, that figure stood at 3.9 percent. New York is stacking its own crises on top of the virus problem.
Florida’s response since the summer of 2020 has been to act as the state embodiment of the Great Barrington Declaration in which academics Jay Bhattacharya, Martin Kulldorff and Sunetra Gupta (of Stanford, Harvard and Oxford, respectively) argued that we are never going to eliminate the virus, so we’d better take mitigation strategies for the most vulnerable but otherwise learn to live with it.
Florida Man (and Woman) are great American lovers of liberty. Did we not come here from Europe in the first place because we were tired of being bossed around by twits and wanted to dream up crazy stuff that had never been tried before? Item from the Walmart in Punta Gorda, Florida: a trashy tank top with the legend, “I can’t hear you over the sound of my FREEDOM.” Doesn’t even make sense! I love it.
One of the great self-owns in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s career of auto-embarrassment came when she took the bait National Review dangled when it published a picture of her enjoying a Christmas vacation drink in Miami Beach.
Florida, people like AOC keep telling us, is a COVID-superspreading lunatic state that actually voted for Donald Trump (twice). Yet where does AOC go when she wants to unwind? Not just Florida, but the part of it that is getting hit hardest in the Omicron wave.
Desperately flailing like a seal on a beach, she retorted to her many detractors that they were only criticizing her because they couldn’t date her. Do people criticize Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren because they want to get busy with these two hotties? AOC then attacked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and suggested he take some “tips” from her state’s governor, Kathy Hochul.
Oh? As I write these words, the state with the most COVID cases in the country is … New York, which has 70 percent more cases than Florida, and five times as many deaths per 100,000.
Heavy restriction is getting us nowhere. If we’re going to get hammered by the Omicron wave anyway, can we please have some freedom back?
Kyle Smith is critic-at-large at National Review.