BY MARCY SHORTUSE- The Boca Grande Fourth of July parade has been canceled due to specific concerns regarding COVID-19. Boca Grande Pride Parade 2020, scheduled for Sunday night, has also been canceled.
Business owners on the island request that if you are still coming here this weekend, whether it’s to go to the beach or to shop and eat at our restaurants, please follow all protocols regarding mask usage and social distancing.
The Boca Grande Health Clinic has strongly advised against the parade and any social gatherings that include large numbers of people.
While there are no new cases showing up for our 33921 zip code on the Department of Health dashboard (currently there are two cases listed), many people who have recently been on the island would not show up in our zip code, because they do not live here. We have had an exceptional number of visitors to the island recently, and they might possibly feel as though this is a “safe” place. But make no mistake, any place that has visitors coming from all parts of the country (and the world) is not a place where you want to let your guard down.
Dining options will be limited this weekend as well. Two local restaurants – the Pink Elephant and The Temptation – have decided that they will be closed. The Pink Elephant is closed until further notice, The Temptation is closed until October 1. Scarpa’s Coastal is carry-out only until further notice.
The Pink Pony and Tortuga have also requested that social distancing be practiced while standing in line at their outdoor windows. It is difficult, but it can be done.
While Lee County beaches are open, please know that our beaches will be packed this weekend. Social distancing will be very difficult. Please do your best, but if you come to the island and see that the parking areas are full, you might want to rethink your visit. There will be additional Lee County deputies on the streets and on the beaches, trying to keep people safe.
We want to address several rumors that have been going around the island this week. First, the Boca Grande Health Clinic was not closed recently for any reason other than for cleaning and sanitizing, and that was only for one day. During that time, the Clinic’s physicians were available, provided telehealth visits and were on call to give any needed care. Specialized cleaning of the Clinic buildings will continue to be performed at regular intervals and as otherwise needed.
The Health Clinic issued the following statement: “The Clinic remains open, observing the scheduled summer hours (8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.). However, this week, due to the drastic increase in all of Florida’s COVID-19 numbers, we are limiting in-person care as we were previously doing when new case numbers were high. We continue to provide telehealth visits as a safe option and will reassess the situation weekly.”
With positive coronavirus tests in several employees at Englewood restaurants, and potential positive cases in visitors to the island, it appears as though the virus has made its way here in a big way. That means that even the most diehard conspiracy theorists will be doing everyone a favor by wearing masks and practicing social distancing while in crowded public venues. We all need to change our behavior here on the island, and require our visitors to do the same until we sort all of this out.
Whether you choose to believe in the Health Department numbers or not, cases are climbing much more rapidly in Lee County right now, and deaths include age ranges from less than 1 year old to 100. The average age of people who contract the virus is lower in many places, so this is no longer an “elderly person’s” disease. This can affect anyone of any age.
We will post any updates as we receive them, either in the newspaper or on our Facebook page. Please stay safe, please use precautions, and please respect our elderly residents and our business owners.
On Thursday, July 2 the Florida Department of Health announced that it was a record-breaking 24-hour period for the state, with 10,109 new positive COVID-19 cases (10,015 Florida residents and 94 non-Florida residents), 67 Florida resident deaths related to COVID-19 and 14.59 percent of new cases testing positive.