Opinion: Spring break partiers should have stayed on the couch

Yo, dudes. Partying like it’s 1984, huh?

Or probably — since millennials and Gen Zs weren’t actually around in 1984 — 2019, more like.


But let no pandemic come between your self-absorbed lot and spring break bar-crawling, beach-basking, herd-strolling, sand-volleyballing, mosh-pitting, dance floor grinding, beer-chugging, bikini-clad shoulder-riding.

Unfazed, undistanced, unloosed on the world.

To wit(less), culled in recent days from social media and TV newscasts:

“If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I’m not going to let it stop me from partying.”

“It’s really messing with my spring break. What is there to do here other than go to bars and the beach?”

“I just turned 21 this year so I’m here to party. (We’re) just trying get drunk before everything closes.”

“This virus ain’t that serious. There’s more serious things out there like hunger and poverty and we need to address that.”

“They’re blowing it way out of proportion.”

“We’re just living in the moment.”

Piddlewits. Tosswits. Dimwits.

Baby snowbirds who’ve descended on Florida by the thousands as part of the annual spring break ritual, from across the U.S. and Canada.

Young people believe themselves indestructible, I get it. Always been thus. But a generation already slagged for breeding and heeding social influencers should really get a no-brainer grip and, as Florida Sen. Rick Scott has implored: “Get off the beach!’’

Although the governor, it should be noted, was still resisting pleas from health officials that all public beaches be closed, instead only limiting beachfront congregating to groups of no more than 10 — a restriction that applies only to the sand, not bars and restaurants along the edges.

So, a 10-spot of frolickers here, a 10-spot of frolickers a few feet along, and everybody into the water.

“The message, I think, for spring breakers is that the party’s over,” Gov. Ron DeSantis told CNN.

Yet he’s left it for counties to make local decisions. Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Naples, Tampa are among the municipalities that have shuttered the beaches.

Clearwater — ground zero for spring breakers — didn’t issue last call for the beach until Monday. No explanation for the lag, except most of the invading hordes would have left by then, presumably.

Take a warning from David Anzarouth, a 25-year-old Torontonian who vacationed in Miami’s South Beach early this month, attending a winter festival event.

Coronavirus had yet to be declared a global pandemic; seemed scarcely a reason for undue fretting on this continent. But shortly after his return, Anzarouth became severely ill: shivering, bathed in sleep sweats, head throbbing, struggling to breathe.

Last Sunday, Anzarouth took himself to the hospital, examined by fully gowned doctors and a nurse. Within 24 hours, he learned he’d tested positive.

Anzarouth, who’d already been doing his TD Bank job from home, turned to social media on Thursday evening to share his harrowing experience and urging others to take the health risk seriously.

A week ago, his symptoms worsened, as Anzarouth told CP24 in a video interview.

“My head started pounding. I felt as if I was drugged … I wasn’t myself. If we’re operating at 100 per cent, I was at 20 per cent. I was able to sit on my couch and work on my laptop (but) do pretty much nothing else.

“By about 6 p.m., I put on a movie. I’d finished work, and I immediately passed out. When I woke up, I was drenched in a pool of sweat. I was shivering. I was having such intense chills.

“I felt like I was flattened. It was as if a truck had hit me.”

He’s recovering at home.

From Ottawa, Anzarouth’s mother, Sally Hawks, emphasized that her son had taken prudent contact precautions when he left Pearson airport.

“Other than the Uber driver, he had zero contact with anybody. He stayed in his apartment.

“David’s a smart kid. He went on that spring break trip with a group of friends before this all exploded.”

But Hawks has been dismayed by some of the mean comments directed at her son on social media.

“People need to understand that this virus knows no bounds. Anybody can get it. I just heard on the news that the prince of Monaco has just tested positive.”

Yes, the elderly and those with an underlying health problem are most at risk. But, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those between the ages of 20 and 44 now account for 20 per cent of U.S. cases that have resulted in hospitalization.

On Friday, the head of the World Health Organization again implored young adults to adhere to social distancing, to cease treating CODIV-19 like an outlier existential threat that will pass them by.

“I have a message for young people: You are not invincible,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“The virus could put you in hospital for weeks, or even kill you. Even if you don’t get sick, the choices you make could be the difference between life and death for someone else.”

Former NHL tough guy Chris Nilan put it less delicately in a tweet: “Our grandparents were asked to go to war. We asked these a—holes to stay home on the couch and they can’t even do that.”

California’s governor on Thursday issued a stay-at-home order for the state’s 40 million residents. New York state did the same Friday, as has Connecticut.

Yet Florida, which has the oldest population in the U.S., is dragging its feet at the state level. And the carousing kids aren’t going to be all right, their families aren’t going to be all right.

All those spring breakers whistling by the graveyard — virus symptoms might not present for two weeks after infection — will be taking it home to their parents and their vulnerable grandparents.

Surely, if they don’t care about strangers, don’t even care about themselves, they care about their elderly relatives. And nobody’s lowered the hammer yet — not with a good thwack.

How different from Italy, where COVID-19 has thrown both society and the health-care system into tumult.

In the hard-hit northern province of Bergamo, authorities are using cellphone data to track any person defying lockdown orders, anybody who’s moved more than 500 metres as pinged off cellphone towers.

Carabinieri are stopping cars to check for documents permitting movement and, no, “I wanted to hang with my friends,” “I wanted to buy some dope” (both proffered as explanations, according to local media reports) are not acceptable alibis.

In France, residents must fill out documents explaining why they’ve left home over this 15-day period, cops handing out $40 to $50 fines to whomever can’t provide an acceptable explanation.

In Belgium, when police were tipped off about 300 young people attending a rave in Luxembourg, federal agents swooped in to break it up.

The party is indeed over. You dumb, selfish knuckleheads.

Rosie DiManno is a columnist for Torstar Syndication Services.

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