People in Florida and Texas – where new coronavirus infections are ballooning – have described their opinions about the pandemic and their leaders decisions to restart the economy before defeating the virus.
Jay Martinez, 21, South Florida
I am worried about the situation in the entire world, not just my hometown of Pembroke Pines, Florida. This is a sad situation that we have all been affected by and the best thing we can do is hope for it to end soon.
I knew that this was inevitable. I do not believe Florida opened their businesses too soon. At the end of the day some responsibility has to be placed in the hands of citizens.
I do not quarantine right now. I decided to stay in Gainesville, where I go to college, and am surrounding myself with people who are at very low risk of developing bad symptoms.
I try to wear a mask as often as I can.
As someone who planned on moving to a large city after graduation this summer, the pandemic has affected my life a lot. Days that used to be packed with going to the gym, searching for jobs and having fun with friends have become quests of finding small activities to keep me productive.
Right now, the goal of every citizen should be staying healthy and protecting those that are most vulnerable to the virus.
Alisha Hoath, 22, Boca Raton
I have been here for four years as I attend Florida Atlantic University.
I feel just as nervous as I did In March when it all started. But I do think there was a period when everyone began to forget about the virus. I even thought things were getting better for awhile.
I absolutely think businesses reopened too soon.
For the most part I know I could be doing better with social distancing. I’ve been going to yoga classes and took a trip to a hotel in Miami for the weekend which was probably not my best decision.
But we made sure to keep six feet apart and wear masks.
Living with the pandemic has been really hard. I’m graduating from university this semester and always thought I’d be diving straight into my career, but a lot of companies are not hiring right now. To be honest, I don’t really know what I’m supposed to be doing.
The Florida governor needs to make it easier for people here to get a test. It should not be this hard during a pandemic to find a test.
It took days of being placed on hold or hung up on before I finally found a place that required me to stand in 99F (37C) heat for nearly two hours before I could get tested.
I watched an elderly women practically collapse as she waited in direct sunlight with no seat or water.
Thank you to everyone on the front line fighting this thing, but we need to do better.
Sarina Nunes, 22
I’m mostly worried about the people who aren’t taking it seriously here in Boca Raton and are preventing us from improving or moving forward from this.
I don’t think it was reopening businesses that caused an increase in cases. I think it was the people.
I think it’s people’s behaviour that caused the Florida outbreak, like crowding on beaches and in bars with no masks.
I personally wear a mask when I leave my home. Most places and grocery stores require it.
The pandemic has personally affected me by having my dream internship cancelled, my graduation ceremony cancelled, my senior year in college cancelled and many job opportunities cancelled.
The governor should implement rules or do something that will make people follow them.
It’s very frustrating how wearing masks has become about political opinion, rather than a simple precaution.
Rachel Moon, 23, sales rep in Houston, Texas
When we reopened, my friends all went to the Houston bars, and they have all tested positive now. If I wasn’t in the healthcare industry, I’m sure I’d still be somewhat careful.
I’m a Republican, but I don’t think Trump should be enforcing rules if he isn’t following them. I don’t agree with how he acts. I think that if he led by example, more likely people would follow and wear masks.
Like, even the people who were protesting Trump wore masks, it really isn’t that hard. So, I think that the way he acts discredits his authority.
But I think Governor Abbott and his team have done everything they can do.
Genesis Valbuena, 26, project manager, Austin
Some bar owners here in Austin are vocally going against what we need to do – criticising the data and suing the government for shutting them down.
If we continue to do this, we are going to be shut down for the rest of the year. For me that’s completely narcissistic. How certain bar owners are acting is ludicrous.
The reopening should have been done less quickly.
I think initially the decision by local and state government, who closed down everything quickly, was made out of fear instead of data.
If it was scientific evidence that led to the closure back in March, I think that the data wasn’t shared as well as it should have been. The New York governor gave daily talks where he would explain with data. That was more credible than what occurred here in Texas.
George Reyes, 19, student in Houston
The pandemic is horrible. So many people have died, but I don’t think the is media is portraying it in the correct light, and are putting the president at fault for it.
Personally, it’s affecting me with school and stuff but don’t know anyone with the virus.
When Texas reopened I was hanging out with friends on a daily basis.
Places up north are much worse. There is so much land here, and when you look at the numbers and the percentages, a lot of deaths are in nursing homes.
We shouldn’t be shutting down the economy I’m happy with the way the things reopened the way they did.
I wash my hands to be more cautious and stuff, but if I need to go to the store I’m going to go. I’ve been to a couple of parties. I am aware I could get it at a party.
I went to Austin, I thought if I’m getting it, it would for sure be then. But two weeks later I’m fine. I was around so many different people, and nothing happened.
David Schwartz, 61, banker in Miami
I have lived in Miami for the last 23 years where I lead the Florida International Bankers Association.
I am as concerned now as I was when the pandemic first started. I still have most of my essentials delivered to my house and I wear a mask anytime I go out.
I do not believe the issue is when businesses reopened, but rather how the guidelines are being respected.
My staff and I have been working remotely from home for more than 100 days now. I no longer have the freedom to go to restaurants or movies and, more importantly, to travel.
If I could speak to my governor, I would ask him to be more stringent in enforcing the recommended WHO and CDC guidelines regarding the use of masks and social distancing.
Reporting by Paula Hong and Koralie Barrau
Interviews have been edited for clarity