Connecting During COVID-19 | Big Picture Broward | Big Picture Broward
Fort Lauderdale during COVID-19

How are South Floridians coping with life’s milestones, social living, and maintaining good mental health during the coronavirus pandemic?

The coronavirus outbreak put life as we know it at a standstill for a time. Months later, as we are still struggling to cope with the changes imposed by the virus, it’s becoming increasingly clear that our old way of living is no more.

Many of us have already had to make major sacrifices. Between the changes to our daily routines, work-life, social life, and more, we’ve been forced to drastically alter the way we live and interact. And with no end in sight, it’s impossible to determine when, if ever, we are able to return to how things were.

As we think of the many ways in which coronavirus has already disrupted our lifestyles and how it will continue to be a major burden, we are turning to our community for advice and guidance.

  • How have you been coping with these sudden and drastic changes?
  • How has this reduced your quality of living?
  • How do you feel about the news media’s coverage of the pandemic?
  • How do you think our community should be responding today?
  • What are our next steps to getting back to normal?
  • Are we ready to implement these next steps or should we continue to wait until we curve the rate of infection?

My Personal Experience

To start the conversation, I’d like to share some personal experiences on how the coronavirus has impacted my lifestyle and other ways in which it hasn’t.

The first impact I felt was in March. My fiancé (now wife) and I were expected to be married in Italy on May 10, 2020. Deposits were paid, flights were booked, invitations sent, and then Italy shut down. Our wedding was canceled and no deposits were refunded nor were we given an alternative. We simply had to wait it out while our money hung in limbo.

Next came a death in the family and then another. The medical reports claim this was coronavirus related but we aren’t too sure. Seems like it was just an easy way of doing the paperwork. At any rate, we had to wait months before we could hold a ceremony. The emotional burden this left on my wife’s side of the family was tremendous.

When social distancing and quarantine guidelines were imposed countywide, my wife’s businesses had to temporarily close. Her family owns and operates hair salons. Though they have reopened, business has shrunk immensely and the daily tasks that need to be carried out to maintain a safe working environment for guests and employees have added a major workload. And all in the wake of reduced business.

My job remained largely unaffected. Though business was impacted, we were able to continue working. This was a blessing and still is. I honestly, can’t express how fortunate we are to continue doing what we love day in and day out while others are not so lucky.

In short, my family and I have had to make sacrifices and compromises, but have also been extremely fortunate that our lifestyles were not totally interrupted. We remain healthy and employed. Not much more we can ask for.

If you’d like to share your personal experiences over these last few months, comment below. We’d like to hear all the ways you’ve adapted to current affairs.

Fort Lauderdale During COVID-19

A Second Wave of Troubles

What’s next for Broward County?

My experiences aren’t totally unique. I was unlucky and lucky at the same time. Now that we’ve reached a point where businesses are forced to shut down again, we can’t help but question how this will worsen the effects we felt months ago.

The ways in which the economy is fluctuating because of decisions made on a local level and the way in which the school board is responding to the pandemic are two areas that continue to threaten our lifestyles and ability to return to normal.

Some of the opinions I’m going to share may not be the most popular, but here we go, nonetheless.

The Economy

First off, we should reopen the economy in full. There’s no way local businesses will survive another onslaught of profit losses. If we continue to limit businesses, we will soon find they are no longer a part of our community makeup. This has already been the case for a number of iconic establishments.

It makes sense that Broward County should keep business open and operational while imposing the mandatory wearing of face masks in public. If you’re one of the individuals who is at-risk, it should be your responsibility to social distance. By limiting the types of businesses that can operate and how businesses can operate to survive, we risk setting our economy back 10-20 years.

It’s time to open the economy back up. We can easily do this if we implement social interaction guidelines, and allow people to decide whether or not they will leave their homes to stimulate local business growth. Local businesses should not have to suffer any longer to protect at-risk people!

Now, obviously there’s no way we can keep every single person safe. But we can at least defend the small businesses that define our community, while safeguarding the livelihoods of business owners who have already made great sacrifices for us.

The Best Bars, Restaurants, and Cultural Centers in Downtown Fort Lauderdale
The Best Bars, Restaurants, and Cultural Centers in Downtown Fort Lauderdale

Schooling

Yesterday, the Broward County School Board declared that the virtual learning will be applied to the Fall semester. This shortsighted decision will have detrimental consequences to our community at large!

Retuning students to school goes hand-in-hand with aiding economic revival. When kids are not in school parents must make sacrifices to accommodate them being home. In some cases, this means an inability to go to work. With this decision, even if the economy reopens in full, many parents may be unable to return to work because they have to stay home with their children. The result? Businesses will be operational with no one present to carry out the work. We’ll be stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Getting our kids back in school where they can live out crucial mental and social development milestones is essential in restarting the economy. Naturally, there are certain obstacles we face when answering this conundrum. The most obvious being keeping students and teachers safe. But there are options.

  • Face masks should be worn at all times
  • In the age of zoom meeting, teachers who are most at-risk should be able to work remote and monitor their class virtually
  • Families with at-risk relatives should take it upon themselves to self-quarantine so our children can return to life and stop sacrificing their precious milestones
  • Schools can employ temporary substitutes (who are at low-risk) to work with their students and report progress to at-risk teachers working remotely

The decision of the School Board to continue eLearning without first troubleshooting these options is one that will have negative consequences on our community at large. We can no longer simply wait for a vaccine and justify this by restricting the development of young learners at a ratio of 30 not-at-risk students to 1 at-risk teacher.

This decision will cause our children to fall behind in their curriculums and will force them to miss out on essential stages of development that cannot be replaced.

Now, I’m no parent. So, if you are, we’d love to hear your opinion on the issue. According to our most recent community poll, most people feel we should continue eLearning through the fall semester. What do you think?

Conclusion

These are just a couple of the most relevant issues being discussed today and remain at the center of conversation regarding coronavirus response in Broward County.

If you have ideas or opinions regarding the economy or schooling in the Fall semester, comment below, or tag us on Facebook and Instagram with your thoughts.

We will continue this discussion in a number of different ways in the coming weeks and would appreciate everyone’s participation. The more we can learn from one another and the more we know about how our community is responding, the more equipped we will be in the race to return to some semblance of normalcy.