After months of confinement and in the euphoria of the beginning of the summer they want to have fun and too bad for the coronavirus: in Florida young adults have come back to life and are participating in the outbreak of COVID-19.
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Reggaeton, improvised evenings at the beach or around a swimming pool and alcohol afloat: the ingredients are all there to have a good time and enjoy the most pleasant moments in Florida, a state known for its nightlife, even if many bars and nightclubs remain closed.
From March to May, the number of infections in the “Sunshine State” was contained, thanks to containment. But in June it exploded, due to the economic reopening of the state, very dependent on tourism, and the influx of young American vacationers.
At Ocean Drive, a famous street in Miami, young people from Missouri, Texas, Georgia and elsewhere roam the beach.
Around midnight, Mike Olivera, 25, sits facing the sea and drinks vodka with a friend.
When he explains why he came to Miami, we understand that wearing a mask and respecting social distances are not a priority: “I wanted to kiss.”
Mike laughs and explains. He is from New York, the former epicenter of the coronavirus in the country, where very strict and very long-term measures have been taken to combat this virus, which has killed more than 22,000 people in the largest American city.
“I just wanted to take a break and be able to do things, meet new people,” he explains.
Meetings could however prove to be dangerous, Florida having established a new record of contaminations almost every day during the last two weeks (more than 5000 Wednesday and Thursday) for a total of more than 100,000 cases identified.
Above all, one of the most telling figures is the average age of those infected: 33 years old, compared to 65 two months ago.
Governor Ron DeSantis, who had been very slow to put in place containment measures in March, said this week that his state was facing a “real explosion” of the disease among young people and warned those places that sell alcohol: if they don’t enforce physical distance, they may lose their license.
And Friday, the elected Republican took action: Florida announced to suspend the consumption of alcohol in bars.
In some cities it is mainly restaurants that are open, not bars or nightclubs – although the difference between these establishments is more tenuous in the United States than in France.
Between prudence and carelessness
And what does Mike Olivera say about the virus? “I don’t think it will affect me. I am 25 years old, I don’t think I need to worry, ”he judges.
“I have already experienced more complicated things. I’m from the Bronx, you know what I mean. If I survived that, I can survive everything ”, adds this young swagger while pouring himself a vodka.
But not all young people are like that, says Annalisa Torres, who has just graduated from the University of Florida, and is sorry to see so much recklessness.
“It is important that we understand that as young adults, our actions during the pandemic have an impact not only on us, but on the people around us,” she says from her home in Miami, where she was placed in quarantine.
“In my case, I live with my parents and my little brother. I stay at home for them, not for me. ”
The problem, says Mary Jo Trepka, an epidemiologist at Florida International University, is that when young people are told they are less vulnerable to the virus, they hear they are immune to it.
“What has been repeated is that the elderly are more at risk and that the young are less likely to get sick,” she reminded AFP.
“It’s absolutely true, but once you have so many young patients, some of them will be very seriously ill and end up in hospital,” she predicts.
Above all, she adds, in many homes in South Florida the three generations of the same family live under the same roof, which puts the oldest at risk.