I have a confession to make: I recently fled Quebec for a week, a refugee from Legault’s 2.0 curfew-and-confinement rules.
A friend told me about an available condo in Florida, my wife and I made a last-second decision to briefly escape and work remotely. But the second we landed, it felt like we’d arrived on another planet.
While Quebec is in full confinement mode, Florida is Cowboyland, where you barely know COVID is happening, despite much higher new case and hospitalization rates than ours .
It’s lunacy by Canadian standards, but an eye-opening experience. For starters, everyone’s out and about, filling bars, restaurants, movies, gyms, and jam-packed sports arenas.
Stores and supermarkets don’t require masks but some cashiers and customers wear them, though often under their nose or chin — Florida-style. It seems a way of announcing: “Look — I’m masked!” when they’re not.
Restaurants are fully open and peeking into some, they’re mobbed. Waiters can choose whether to wear masks, and at least half don’t.
In ever-friendly America, some customers even shake hands with their waiters before leaving, to say: “Thanks, I’ll have some germs for dessert.”
It’s easy to spot Canadians at restaurants, as we’re the ones properly masked and nervously sitting on the terrace, even in the rain.
You can see the difference in the media, too. In Quebec, COVID totally dominates the news, because there’s almost nothing else happening.
In Florida, it’s the reverse.
I checked the prestigious Miami Herald recently on a day Florida had risen to more than 70,000 new daily cases — almost twice as many per capita as Quebec, much like their hospitalizations.
But the first mention of COVID anywhere in the paper was exactly 18 stories down, with the headline: “Amid Omicron surge, hospitals are stretched thin. What can Florida lawmakers do?”
Ignore it, as always, I guess. Meanwhile, the 19th story was: “Florida COVID update: 71,742 new cases as hospital patients increase.”
Among the many stories played far higher up were: “Miami Marlins name managers for minor-league affiliates” and “Microbial contamination in laxative can cause a ‘life-threatening’ infection.”
But that still beats NBC TV’s Florida website that day, which ran this story way ahead of COVID: “Police officer kills dog in Miami-Dade after barking complaint.”
It’s hard to make this stuff up. Meanwhile, in La Presse the same day, the top six stories were about COVID.
By any measure, Florida life seems surreal, as if everyone’s wearing blinders and trying not to notice a disease that’s killed more than 63,000 Floridians. That’s about twice as many deaths as in all of Canada, in a state with two-thirds our country’s population.
I live in Florida. I know a lot of people. I do not know one person, personally, who has died of Covid. I know a guy whose mother died with Covid. He told me she was in very poor health prior to her death.
I know a girl whose dad died from the jab.
I know plenty of people who got the Covid, just like I knew plenty of people throughout my life that got the flu.