Here on Fort Myers Beach, the race to the bottom that was the second half of March, resulted in a deserted beach. It took a few days for snowbirds and spring breakers and vacationers to pack up and head home, but the past couple weeks have been quiet on the beach, eerily quiet, especially when you consider it’s still April. On a rare drive down Estero Blvd., the only thing that’s the same is the construction, which seems to be making better time without all the traffic. As you drive down the boulevard, you see a couple bicyclists, a few walkers, maybe a half dozen other vehicles and that’s it.
It all has a bit of an apocalyptic feel to it, but without the destruction. Driving past large condo complexes with not a single car in the lot, or past usually bustling businesses, with closed signs on the door. It’s sad, no doubt.
Take a look at the beach photo with our Turtle Time story this week. The photo taken by a Turtle Time volunteer shows the beach without any footprints – a reminder of how unusual our situation is right now.
It’s getting old as some of us have been isolated for just over 2 weeks, others for nearly a month.
It’s hard to be shut in your house. It’s hard to have your job disappear. It’s hard to close your business with no idea when you might be able to reopen it. That not knowing may be the hardest thing of all, for all of us.
It helps to remind ourselves why we’re in this near total shutdown – to save lives. And it’s working.
Some are demanding the stay at home restrictions be eased, just as they are beginning to work. Make no mistake about the reason for the leveling off of new COVID-19 cases. It’s because we are under that stay at home order and very few people are out and about interacting with each other.
One thing we’ve all learned is that some people will not follow the rules. Doesn’t matter the reason or the person invoking the rule or the cost of ignoring it. Some just will not follow the rules. Some of those that flaunt the stay at home rules have the audacity to label themselves patriots. They’re not. In our book, putting the most vulnerable in your community at risk is not patriotic in the least. It’s selfish is what it is. Ignoring the advice of medical experts and scientists is several steps beyond ignorant and into self-destruction territory. These people, and every community has them, are the reason we can’t open our beach or relax our stay at home order right now.
We’ll get through this. Our community has been through tough times before. We know how to support each other when things are down and how to rebuild our business community.
Look around and you’ll see the framework of a recovery already building. The Chamber of Commerce, the Town and the County are working together to find financial assistance options for our small businesses. Local businesses and the community are supporting our out of work hospitality employees via the #WeAreFMB effort.
We are not out of the game, we are only in hibernation, just waiting for the right time to emerge and begin the work of restoring our community and our businesses.
Missy & Bob Layfield