The daily beast
Biker Week is a sick joke for the unvaccinated in Florida
Phelan M. Ebenhack / APMIAMI – Over the weekend, Sean Doyle was in his backyard in Daytona Beach, Florida, when he saw hundreds of motorcycles roaring across the Seabreeze Bridge. The procession of two-wheeled iron machines signaled that the annual gathering of motorcyclists known as Daytona Beach Bike Week was in full swing. While Doyle has been steeped in motorcycle festivities for the last six years he’s lived in the city, the 56-year-old transplant from New York City is out of the 2021 edition. Bike, but I won’t go near her this year, ”Doyle told The Daily Beast. “I think it’s going to be a wide-spread event so I will stay away.” On the social media pages of local media outlets, dozens of Daytona Beach residents like Doyle express their own intentions to avoid the motorcycle parades, races, concerts, parties and street festivals that accompany the 10-day event that started last Thursday. As Florida experiences a chaotic and disjointed vaccine release, Bike Week could unleash a new wave of infections in the Fun Coast region of the state, residents and experts say. The threat is magnified by the fact that Florida leads the nation in new cases from the UK and other variants of the coronavirus. Bike Week organizer, the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, estimates that between 300,000 and 400,000 motorcyclists will be in the city through March 14. when the event ends, according to the Daytona Beach News Journal. In previous years, the event attracted approximately 500,000 attendees. But even if officials have been determined to avoid it, some locals fear that Bike Week may mirror what happened at the Sturgis Rally in South Dakota last August. That state’s health department reported 124 new cases among South Dakota residents who became ill after attending the rally and at least 290 people in 12 other states tested positive after being at the event, according to USA Today. (There was also a controversial study that suggested that the Sturgis motorcycle rally eventually infected about 250,000 people across the country.) “[Bike Week] It’s not worth the risk yet, ”said Doyle. “I see a lot of people who don’t accept [COVID-19] seriously. I am not yet eligible to receive the vaccine, but as soon as I can, I will. ” Florida is one of the few states that has been open for most of the pandemic thanks to Governor Ron DeSantis. He scoffed at the enactment of a statewide mask mandate, banned counties and municipalities from imposing mask fines, allowed businesses to open at full capacity, and vowed never to close the Sunshine State again. But the prospect of an unrivaled super-spread event in the state’s already ugly coronavirus history, just as the end of the pandemic was approaching with vaccines, looms. Florida is a COVID nightmare, even for vaccinated people “The concern has largely been during Spring Break, but almost any large gathering of people could cause problems,” Dr. Jill Roberts, professor, told The Daily Beast. of Epidemiology from the University of South Florida. “The variant that spreads in Florida is more contagious and is expected to replace other strains as the dominant infection if given a chance to spread.” Roberts said. “Obviously events like Bike Week and Spring Break can make this happen,” he added. Daytona Beach spokeswoman Susan Cerbone told The Daily Beast that the city has a mask requirement for indoor businesses when social distancing is not possible. . But fines cannot be enforced due to DeSantis’ executive order. “The City has initiated motorcycle-only traffic patterns and limited curbside parking on Main Street during Bike Week,” added Cerbone. “This will create more space to allow for social distancing.” He added that businesses are restricted to 60 percent indoor occupancy during Bicycle Week. The governor’s office and the Department of Health in Volusia County, where Daytona Beach is located, did not respond to requests for comment. Janet Kersey, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Chamber of Commerce, said most companies have already implemented many security precautions. in the last year in addition to the parking and capacity restrictions for Bike Week. There is also a marketing campaign that uses posters, billboards and media advertisements to encourage attendees to wear their masks and disinfect themselves frequently, Kersey told The Daily Beast via email. “There was a lot of discussion about not holding the event this year,” Kersey said. “With the benefits of increased vaccine distribution, a reduction in the number and the real need for people to work to pay their bills, maintain their homes, feed their families and prevent the economy from completely collapsing due to the great losses of tourism, it was a very committed conversation with many considerations to move forward ”. Kersey added that Daytona Beach and the entire state have “worked tirelessly to protect” citizens and tourists throughout the past year by following CDC and industry specific safety guidelines. The city’s restrictions, which prevail on nearly half a million motorcyclists bent on the party, is proving difficult. On the official Bike Week Facebook page, daily videos show platoons of motorcyclists rumbling down the city’s main thoroughfare, Main Street, as they are cheered by mostly unmasked pedestrians walking on the sidewalks. In a March 7 clip posted by a local musician, a pair of gray-bearded cyclists stomp and shout alongside another trio of maskless revelers inside a crowded local bar as a band plays an acoustic version of “TNT” by AC DC. A video posted to Twitter and recorded at another watering hole shows a rock band singing “Born to be Wild” by Steppenwolf in front of a packed crowd. Due to the riotous atmosphere, Doyle said he will not walk up and down Main Street to see the motorcycle processions and vendor stands. He’s also not going to make any purchases until things settle down next week. “I usually shop early in the morning,” said Doyle. “But during tourist events like this, I don’t go to Publix,” he added, referring to the ubiquitous supermarket chain in the state. Doyle’s decision to stay indoors for Bicycle Week underscores what critics say has been an influence-driven disaster. from a vaccine release under DeSantis. The governor’s strategy to get injections into the arms of Floridians has been marred, among other things, by a no-bid deal with Publix to administer vaccines to people 65 and older after the chain donated $ 100,000 to your campaign. Also participating: developers with ties to major Republican donors, who were selected by the governor to establish pop-up vaccination sites in various communities in a pattern that the state’s top Democratic official has said should be investigated by the FBI. With Florida’s vaccine supply accelerating in recent weeks, DeSantis has been slow to expand the list of eligible individuals beyond seniors. Last week, the governor allowed firefighters, teachers and police officers over 55, as well as people under 65 with high-risk medical conditions, to receive vaccinations at any vaccination center in the state. On Monday, DeSantis signed another executive order that will allow anyone 60 and older to get vaccinated starting next week. Meanwhile, anxious residents who are not yet eligible are showing up at sites set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in hopes of getting the leftover vaccine. shots. Over the weekend, hundreds of people received vaccinations at a FEMA site in the Florida city of Miami-Dade County that briefly deviated from the DeSantis protocol due to low participation from eligible residents. The site stopped inoculating anyone over the age of 18 after FEMA instructed staff to meet the criteria established by DeSantis.At another FEMA site in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood, local documentary producer Alfred Spellman received his first dose of Moderna by sheer luck. On Sunday morning, he went to the site to inquire about the protocol for distributing the leftover injections, Spellman, who is 42 years old and has no pre-existing medical condition, told The Daily Beast. “It was totally empty when I got there. “Spellman said. “When I asked [the staffer] What was the policy on leftover vaccines, he told me to wait a second and went inside. The guy comes back and tells me to come in. ” They informed him that the site had thawed a pallet of Moderna vaccines that were to be used within six hours, Spellman said. “The staff are eager to vaccinate people,” he said. “I was lucky”. Spring Break COVID-19 Mayhem Is Coming for Florida Spellman, who said he contracted COVID-19 in June, believes Florida has reached the point where sites can have VIP lines for seniors and people with medical conditions and regular lines for anyone who want to get vaccinated. But Roberts argued that it is still too early to deviate from the state’s strategy of targeting Floridians most at risk of getting sick, even if the vaccine supply has “increased dramatically” in recent weeks, and even if DeSantis’ priorities are questionable. . The governor has faced strong criticism from epidemiologists in his own state for not prioritizing vaccines for essential workers in the hospitality and retail industries, who are coming into contact with hundreds of people every day and are more likely to contract and spread the coronavirus. “Attempts to acquire the vaccine prior to eligibility should be discouraged, as there are significant numbers of high-risk people who have not yet been vaccinated due to many issues, such as access to care and unnecessary barriers.” Roberts said. The Daytona Beach local said he doesn’t want to get ahead of anyone. Once he’s vaccinated, both he and his 76-year-old partner, who has already received two injections, will be able to start dating again and meeting other vaccinated friends without masks According to new guidelines recently released by the CDC, Doyle. Meanwhile, he’s trapped inside, covering himself from a potential disaster. “I’m frustrated because I can’t get the vaccine, “said Doyle, adding,” Until then, I’ll do my best to stay away from everyone. ” Read more at The Daily Beast. Do you have a tip? Submit to The Daily Beast here Get our best stories delivered to your inbox every day. Register now! Beast Daily Membership: Beast Inside delves into the stories that matter to you. Learn more.