This weekend, beaches and public parks were packed with people enjoying the sunny weather in spite of the coronavirus pandemic. Places like Orange County, California, saw people taking advantage of gaps in the state's stay-at-home order, while in other places, people simply ignored them. Officials are pleading with revellers to continue taking social distancing seriously.
Experts agree that there is a long way to go before the coronavirus pandemic is finished and the U.S. can return to normal life. However, some people jumped the gun this weekend, heading out in droves to enjoy the warm weather despite the risk. Photos from southern California show thousands of people crowded onto Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, which are not closed even under the state's strict stay-at-home order, according to a report by CBS News. Meanwhile, Long Island, New York saw a wave of surfers at the shore and sunbathers on the sand.
The crowded beaches on the West Coast were due in part to a heat wave in the area, experts believe. Still, many onlookers are incredulous to see that people are going out there in spite of the risk of spreading COVID-19. Newport Beach Lifeguard Battalion Chief Brian O'Rourke estimated that over 50,000 people filled his beach and Huntington Beach on Friday and Saturday. "It's hot out, and we're seeing the crowds increase, doubling every day," he said.
Those two beaches are technically still open to the public, as are beaches in Florida like Daytona and Cocoa Beach. The re-opened beaches in Florida are technically only available for exercise like jogging, swimming and fishing, and people are expected to stay at least six feet apart from each other. Sunbathing is supposed to be prohibited, yet crowds of people did so without consequence.
The same was true in New York, where beachgoers were in direct violation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's stay-at-home order. Local news outlets shared photos and videos of people gathered in crowds, most without masks and showing no outward concern about the global pandemic.0comments
Some saw the crowded beaches coming ahead of time. On Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted: "It's going to be nice outside this weekend. You might be feeling cooped up. Ready for life to go back to 'normal.' But can't stress this enough: CA can only keep flattening the curve if we stay home and practice physical distancing. You have the power to literally save lives."
Experts say that social distancing must go on still to slow the spread of COVID-19 and lighten the burden on the medical infrastructure in general. Additionally, the World Health Organization released a scientific brief on Friday, noting that there is no data to suggest that even people who have survived the coronavirus already are immune to catching it again, so we may not be completely safe until a vaccine is developed. For the latest on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the websites of the CDC and the WHO.