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16 friends tested positive for coronavirus after going to a bar in Florida

Published Jun 17th, 2020 11:13PM EDT
Coronavirus USA Cases
Image: Zigres/Shutterstock
  • The number of coronavirus cases continues to rise in the USA, as states relax restrictions and reopen their economies.
  • Florida set new COVID-19 records in a matter of days, surpassing the previous highs from May.
  • 16 friends who went out to a reopened bar were all infected, as were other patrons who were visiting at the same time.

The novel coronavirus infection will not just disappear once the curve has been flattened, providing that ever happens. China and New Zealand are the best examples of that. The former is now dealing with a severe outbreak in Beijing that came out out of nowhere, while New Zealand recently declared that it had no more COVID-19 cases, but two new imports from Europe just arrived. Other regions that have reopened recently saw a surge in new cases, and Florida is one such example.

The state set two records in a matter of days, registering 2,581 cases on Friday and then 2,783 cases on Tuesday. The previous high was 1,601 in mid-May. People may be relaxing earlier than they should, ditching some of the protections that could keep them safe, including social distancing and face masks. That explains why a group of 16 friends who went out to a recently reopened bar all got infected. Social distancing in a closed setting such as a bar is much harder, and wearing a mask doesn’t make much sense while downing beverages.

“We want to raise awareness and get ahead of it,” Kat Layton, one of the 16, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “We want to tell people it’s really not ready for what we thought it was ready for, it’s too soon.”

“Standing there in front of those people, we knew we were pushing it,” she added.

The group was celebrating a friend’s birthday in the crowded bar where nobody was wearing masks. The virus was “out of sight, out of mind,” Erika Crisp said. They heard from the mayor and governor that everything was fine, and they didn’t know anyone who had the virus. After a few days, they all got sick. “Receiving the text messages that my friends were just boom, positive, boom, positive, boom, positive, back to back to back, it was overwhelming,” Dara Sweat said.

Thankfully, none of them experienced serious symptoms, and only a few of them got flu-like manifestations of COVID-19. The three friends said they’re confident they were infected at the bar, saying they’ve been messaged by strangers who also got sick after visiting the same establishment.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Tuesday he has no intention of closing the state again despite the record number of cases. “No, we’re not shutting down, you know, we’re going to go forward,” he said. “We’re going to continue to protect the most vulnerable. You know, we’re going to urge, continue to advise, particularly our elderly population to maintain social distancing, avoid crowds.”

Florida has more than 80,000 confirmed infections so far, and nearly 3,000 people have died.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.