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As the Pandemic Hits The Villages, Life Goes On

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

July 27, 2020 – From February to mid June there were fewer than 100 cases in The Villages, the giant Central Florida community. Retirees in TV went about their busy lives, playing pickleball, golf, dancing, and partying. Governor Ron DeSantis even bragged about the low infection rate in the sprawling community of 120,000 residents.

With cases spiking in Florida and on track to reach 500,000 by early August, it turns out the gates of The Villages are not Covid 19 proof. Sumter County, the largest of the 3 counties where it is located, is seeing a rising number of cases. In recent weeks the daily case count has been between 20 and 40 (in surrounding counties the figures are in the hundreds). Cases in the County are primarily among people between 65-85, a big contrast to the rest of the state where they are concentrated among those 15 to 44. Hospitalizations are on the rise as well in The Villages.

Nursing homes in and around The Villages were originally spared some of the devastation experienced elsewhere in the country because they were closed early to visitors. But that seems to be changing now: the New York Times reported last week that Lady Lake Specialty Care, just outside the community, had 47 reported cases in a recent week.

Medical authorities at The Villages have been encouraging residents to take precautions like avoiding groups of over 10 people and socializing indoors. Many people point to young people coming into the community who don’t socially distance or wear masks as a big cause of the spread of the disease.

Reporters for the Times article, “Virus Arrives at The Villages, a Playground for Florida’s Retirees“, interviewed various residents to get a feel for how the community is reacting now that the virus is spreading. They found that although management has taken steps like closing theaters and eliminating performing bands, many residents do not appear to be taking the threat seriously. Restaurants are busy with large groups enjoying themselves. People have house parties. Dancing is still popular. Masks are not commonly worn in this predominantly Republican stronghold. And one person interviewed said that when someone does get the virus, they tend to keep their illness a secret. Of course, there are many other people who are serious about the pandemic and are moderating their activities accordingly.

Comments: If you live in an active adult or 55+ community, what is like for you? Are you actively trying to protect yourself, or are you not overly concerned? What activities have you given up, and what do you continue to do? Please share your experiences in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on July 26th, 2020

9 Comments »

  1. All our amenities closed entirely for several months April & May. As we opened and things got worse in Arizona the fitness center was once again closed. Outdoor courts remain open Bocce, Pickleball and Tennis all open and a limited number of people in the pools and are distanced. Masks are required when entering the facilities, but not during swimming or play on the courts, just social distancing . All iindoor social groups such as arts, crafts and card groups discontinued.
    We now conduct a few driveway happy hours a few times a month when ithe weather is not to hot.
    Our 55 community is in an all age master built community, and when the hiking trails were closed many people continued to ignore the gates and signs, putting them and many others in the community at risk.

    by Bruce — July 27, 2020

  2. We live in a gated community, without the gate, in Summerville SC. 150 house /units. Zero cases of Covid19 in the community and zero cases in our zip code. No idea why but, everyone here has been ultra careful but not stupidly so. Wear masks when we go shopping, sanitize always, talk 6 feet apart etcetcetc. Even had a 3 couple patio party. We sat 6 feet apart, food and wine in corner, and talked for 2+ hours. Got food one by one. Enjoyable evening. Hope it can stay this way.
    Please be careful out there!

    by Heinrich — July 29, 2020

  3. Here in central Virginia, proximity to larger cities and virus spread in the Mid-Atlantic also saw our community shut down in mid-March. Clubhouse and other amentities have not yet opened, and residents, while saddened and perhaps anxious, also understand the need. Several in the community, including my wife, made cloth facemasks for those who were unable to make their own, so there has been a general pulling together through this continued situation. We watch other parts of the country, particularly further South and Southwest, with a bit of perhaps anger, as many seem to think that this pandemic is a joke…..

    by Patrick — July 29, 2020

  4. I’m not certain how hiking outdoors, where many people aren’t likely to be seen if trails are closed, puts others at risk Unless hikers are hiking in groups (3 or more). It seems like being in the pool and possibly pickleball would be a more questionable outdoor activity. With the constant changes in information, it’s hard to keep up.

    Living in southern California – a year round outdoor mecca – I’ve seen many people and activities outside (beach, streets, one trail just this past weekend), etc. that seem foolish to me because of the unlimited number of people doing whatever with some wearing masks, some not, and very little social distancing. However, when not near the beach or one of our wonderful beach communities, all outside activities are being safely pursued, for the most part; again, some wearing masks (it seems like most), some not, and good social distancing among neighbors and strangers.

    Our news has had unfortunate accounts of large family gatherings that have been (and still are) sadly resulting in the spread of Covid. These gatherings have been both inside and out.

    by Shelley L Pitchford — July 29, 2020

  5. Living near Boston, Massachusetts, not in a 55+ community, we were in the top 3 of states with high numbers of cases and deaths at one point. We are now down to #10 since the south has risen in number of cases. We have lots of restrictions in Massachusetts, but I welcome them. I fear this disease with my co-morbid health issues. I have repeatedly read that masks, hand washing, and social distancing is helpful so I follow those guidelines. Minimal interaction with others. No visitors or visiting except our daughter and her husband who live locally and work from home. Miss my grand daughter whose mom is a doctor in the south and refuses to visit or allow us to visit her as she deals with COVID all the time. She keeps saying she could not live with herself if she was the source of our getting sick, or worse, dying. I work as a nurse in a non-COVID setting for which I am grateful. I pray there is a vaccine that will work.

    by Jo — July 29, 2020

  6. I made a hermit of myself, with an occasional trip to supermarket or drive-thru, from early March to the end of June. But I have been playing golf, in CT, for the last four weeks. I wear my mask in close contact — 6 feet — with strangers and pack plenty of hand sanitizer. Sadly, I see groups of men close to each other on tee boxes and greens, with no masks on. My fellow players stay 6 feet from each other when we do not have our masks on. The other day, I played golf with a 40 something who “apologized” for placing a plasic bottle of water two feet from each flag and explained that he was high risk and did not want to touch anywher near flag and hole. I told him no apology necessary; I admired his caution. The fact is that if everyone wore a mask within a few feet of everyone else, we would have the pandemic under control pending a vaccine. But jerks will be jerks or, perhaps in the new vernacular, “Gohmerts.” Stay safe.

    by Larry — July 30, 2020

  7. Our 55+ community closed the clubhouse for awhile, but has now reopened it for yoga and exercise classes. Masks need to be worn outside but can be removed once inside (?) which doesn’t make any sense to me. Supposedly temps. are taken but one could still be a carrier and have a normal temp. We live in…. SC … where there have been numerous outbreaks of covid recently. So I can’t understand the relaxation of standards ?? Governor will not mandate mask wearing but is leaving that up to the local communities. Many residents do not take this seriously – stop to talk to each other on the street with no distancing and maskless. BTW, I would hesitate to say that no one in our community has contracted covid as it is not something one wants to advertise. I go out 1-2x/week to pick up food wearing a mask and gloves, and I certainly will not be going to the clubhouse or participating in any activities until I am vaccinated.

    by Fionna — July 30, 2020

  8. I live in a large gated community of condos on the bay, about an hour south of Boston. Our pools are closed. We have a private beach with a boat house. People our town have resisted wearing masks and social distancing. Last weekend our private beach was inundated with out of town visitors and nobody was wearing masks or social distancing. I stayed on the boat house deck by myself, and that was fine. This weekend I am seeing visitors with license plates from Texas, Arizona, NY, NJ, North Carolina. Nobody is enforcing the travel restrictions at all. I am being treated for breast cancer, so I stay in and have groceries delivered. I have a prediction that we are going to see a huge spike in cases by mid August. Stay safe everyone.

    by Maimi — July 31, 2020

  9. Quote from article included below, states in RED indicate outbreak severity, not political persuasion.

    “A new White House coronavirus task force report shows that 18 states are in the COVID-19 “red zone,” meaning they recorded more than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents in the past week.

    The 18 states in the red zone for new cases are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, SOUTH CAROLINA, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

    The report, which was not shared publicly, recommends that states in the red zone for either cases or test positivity mandate the use of masks, limit social gatherings to 10 people or fewer and maintain the closure of bars and gyms in cities and counties considered to be “hot spots.”

    https://news.yahoo.com/white-house-document-shows-18-states-in-coronavirus-red-zone-194350717.html

    https://publicintegrity.org/health/coronavirus-and-inequality/exclusive-white-house-document-shows-18-states-in-coronavirus-red-zone-covid-19/

    by Daryl — August 1, 2020

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