Can the Sunshine State Celebrate Independence Day This Year Without Covid-19?

Caroline de Braganza
Time to celebrate?Jill Wellington/Pixabay

It’s doubtful, as the coronavirus pandemic is not going away anytime soon.

Although the roll out of vaccinations across the country is progressing well, with nearly 40% of people at least receiving their first jab, it’s unlikely Florida or any other state will reach 80% herd immunity by July 4.

Data updates from the Florida Dept of Health as of April 29:

  • 2,666,894 people have received only their first dose of the vaccine (12.42% of the population).
  • 6,073,726 people have completed their doses required (28.28% of the population).

The virus can only survive and thrive if it finds a willing host—humans.

The CDC and other health experts estimate at least 70% to 85% of the country’s population will need to be COVID-resistant, either from previous infection or vaccination, to stop the virus in its tracks.

That’s herd immunity - the more people are immune, the less chance Covid-19 has of spreading.

The US is nowhere near herd immunity, and the average daily number of residents being vaccinated nationally has declined 20% in the past two weeks.

Florida ranks third in the nation with 2,228,212 known virus infections; California leads with 3.6 million, followed by Texas with 2.8 million.

After an eleven-day pause, the Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccine has been available again from April 25 in Florida. Naturally, many people are wary.

At a press briefing Thursday, state health officer Dr. Raul Pino revealed the first death from the UK variant, B.1.1.7, known to be highly contagious, in Orange County.

This variant was first reported in the UK in October last year and caused a massive surge in cases there. The CDC previously reported that by March, this more infectious Variant of Concern (VOC) would be the predominant strain in the US. Latest data on April 10 shows it now accounts for 59.2% of reported cases in the US.

Orange County, home to the City Beautiful, Orlando, is doing a sterling job with its #IGotMyShot campaign. You can check it out here

From Friday, April 30, Orange County businesses and other groups can apply to host vaccination events using this form on the health department’s website. The Health Department will provide the vaccines and nurses to give the shots.

Many Orlando companies and restaurants have been offering incentives to employees to get vaccinated—either money or extra paid time off as a bonus.

Walt Disney World is offering employees a onetime payment equal to four hours of pay, provided they get vaccinated by September 30.

Universal Orlando Resort has been holding a multi-day, on-site vaccination event this week for employees. In addition, they will compensate them if they miss a shift due to side effects.

Summer break and Independence Day are only two months away.
VacationTerri Cnudde/Pixabay

Holidaymakers will flock to the Sunshine State to enjoy its offerings—nature parks, cities such as Orlando with its theme parks, the Florida Keys, not to mention the beautiful beaches of the Gulf of Mexico on the west and the Atlantic on the east.

The CDC unveiled updated guidelines on Tuesday, April 27, detailing activities that vaccinated people can safely resume two weeks after their last jab.

You can eat outdoors at a restaurant or take a stroll on the beach and romp in the surf without a mask—provided you are fully vaccinated!

But that’s no reason to be complacent.

Many people infected with Covid experience no symptoms but can still pass it on to someone else. Some folks think it’s too much trouble to get vaccinated or they’ll be OK because others received their shots.

If you’re not yet vaccinated, be considerate of others—wear your mask, keep your social distance, sanitise your hands regularly and avoid crowded spaces.

This virus doesn’t care who you vote for or what you believe — such as the ludicrous lies from Leila Centner of the Centner Academy in South Florida who claimed three women had their menstrual cycles disrupted by being in the presence of a vaccinated person.

Covid-19 will still be with us on Independence Day but will wither and fade over time if more people’s immune systems can fight back against this invisible enemy.

Let’s celebrate our nationhood by getting vaccinated.

Then we can look forward to Independence Day next year without Covid-19.

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Published essayist. Follow me for local news that impacts our lives, plus stories on public and mental health. Through writing, I also share my passion for music, politics, our environment and social justice, and hope you find value in my words.


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