Although fewer in number this year, the arrival of snowbirds in search of vitamin D is causing concern in Florida, where there are fears of an increase in COVID-19 cases.
• Read also: A different winter for our snowbirds: Quebeckers are heading south at all costs
Dr Jean Murphy, who practices in Florida, says he has one to two positive patients per week, which he had not seen since mid-August.
According to the Dr Jean Murphy, who practices in Port Charlotte on the west coast, the arrival of tourists this winter could quickly explode cases of COVID-19 in Florida.
In recent weeks, the family doctor has claimed to have one to two positive patients per week, which he had not seen since mid-August, he says.
“I have no good feelings [pour l’hiver]. All is wide open here in Florida, it’s like there is nothing, ”he continues.
The arrival of tourists from Quebec, Ontario or the northern United States, combined with the fact that no quarantine is required for travelers, that the wearing of a mask is not mandatory under the law and that the bars and restaurants are operating at full capacity, are important risk factors, the doctor considers.
Indeed, no fine can be given to a passer-by who does not wear the mask in a public place.
However, it is highly recommended and some establishments allow themselves to refuse customers who do not wear it.
“Brewing a microbe”
According to the Dr Murphy, the holiday season will be a good time to ‘brew germs’. “The world listens to 95%, but it is the 5% that will destroy the situation,” he laments.
The doctor even adds that if he were a snowbird, he would be worried about going on a trip and would rather choose to do “ski-doo hikes in the Laurentians”.
“Catching COVID-19 is like taking a number out of a hat, from 1 you have nothing to 100 you die. If a Quebecer hits the wrong number and ends up in intensive care on a ventilator for weeks in Florida … If it was me, I would rather be on a ventilator in my city, with my family around, ”he illustrates. he.
Asked by The newspaper, Quebeckers who have become permanent residents of Florida share the doctor’s concerns.
Sylvie Chabot, a permanent resident of Florida, avoids restaurants.
“I think that [le nombre de cas] go up […]. It won’t be nice in a few months, ”warns Sylvie Chabot, who has lived in St-Petersburg, near Tampa Bay, for six years now.
The 63-year-old retiree says she has avoided restaurants and “lived as a hermit” for several months.
Paul Bilodeau, real estate broker in Fort Lauderdale, thinks we haven’t seen the worst yet.
“We miss going to restaurants, but for me, there is no question that I go there,” says the woman from Quebec, who fears contracting the disease.
“It will probably be disastrous. We haven’t seen the worst yet, ”said Paul Bilodeau, real estate broker in Fort Lauderdale.
Even more cases
Sommelier Éric Blais, who works in a restaurant in the city of Naples, also believes that the arrival of snowbirds will “raise cases”.
“People [touristes] arrive here, the restaurants are open, it’s a bit the free-for-all», Says the Quebecer, in Florida since 2003.
Moreover, Mr. Blais said he was surprised by the opening of bars and restaurants to their maximum capacity a few weeks ago. “I thought it was going to reopen gradually,” he says.
“Here, we can do anything”
He thus finds it “bizarre” to see the city vibrate at the same rate as before the pandemic.
Annie Lavigne, a real estate broker in Florida, says restaurants are packed.
“Here, we can do anything, go to the beach, go to a restaurant, it brings a certain complacency and people can forget the risks [de contamination à la COVID-19]He said.
An observation shared by other Floridians, like Annie Lavigne, real estate broker in St-Petersburg. “The other day, I was at the beach in a small bistro and I heard tourists say: they are not severe here, we do not have to wear the mask,” she says.
“New restaurants have opened here recently on a wharf and the weekend is not allable (sic) there are so many people! ” she adds.