Check-Mating COVID-19

Guest Correspondence

BY TOM BARWIN SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING SATURDAY JUL 4, 2020

On many occasions during this pandemic, at least at city hall, an hour has seemed like a day, and a day has seemed like a week.  In a similar time warp, the four-month long Covid-19 crisis is beginning to feel like it has been going on forever.   Yet, new facts, trends and breaking news pop up daily.  It has been like an intense chess game in this battle against a very cagey opponent, only with people’s lives and livelihoods at stake.   For example, this week the Governor had to reclose all bars. And on Monday evening, the City of Sarasota joined Holmes Beach and Anna Maria island in adopting a mandatory face mask ordinance.   Frankly, the City Commission decided that we were done fooling around and playing cat and mouse with this thing.  And the public seems to agree, as nearly 80% of the 670 residents who called or emailed city hall were in favor of requiring that all who are out in public wear protective face masks unless they can't for medical reasons, or are out exercising safely distanced from others.   

With all the federal and state mixed messages, starts and stops, and now with the new surge in cases and high percentage of tests coming back positive, it is clear the vast majority want to take control of this thing rather than let it control us.  To use a basketball term, it's time to put a full court press on Covid-19, take the ball back, and run out the clock on it. Or to stick with chess, it’s time to checkmate Covid.

With America's July 4th birthday upon us, the true American spirit has reemerged. Let's take control and do what we must do, which really isn’t that much.   In 1776 the British were coming, in 2020 it's the virus that has been coming.  Folks worked together then to win our country's independence, and that’s the only way we can regain our independence now from our current threat. Since Sarasota's mandatory mask ordinance has gone into place, mask usage has gone up dramatically. Many more people are wearing masks around town and in our stores, restaurants and even the post office. Thank you, and way to go everybody. If we can keep it up and a few others join in, we can begin to get control of it over the next month. If we do work together just maybe a year from now the Coronavirus will have become an increasingly distant memory. It will be nice to get back to attending sports games, the theaters, Sarasota Orchestra, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, McCurdy's Comedy Club, or just the movies.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Meanwhile, those mandatory mask rules will remain in place until we get the upper hand. Mandatory masks also apply to common areas of condominium complexes, apartment buildings, hotels and public restrooms. If you need a copy of our mandatory mask ordinance, or the most frequently asked questions, or to learn where you can get free masks as long as our supply lasts, just email mandatory.mask@sarasotafl.gov

For now, our free mask mobile will circulate around our increasingly safe city.  Violations can also be reported to the mandatory mask email through which they will be forwarded to code enforcement.  Please do not call 911 with mandatory mask questions or issues.    Best wishes for a good holiday weekend. Be safe. I look forward to seeing you and your mask around town. 

Tom Barwin is the City Manager for the City of Sarasota.

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