THE VILLAGES, Fla. – The sidewalks and town squares in The Villages would normally be packed with people celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day, but that wasn’t the case Tuesday as concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continue.
Instead, all four town squares were empty after a number of group activities were canceled.
The following message was posted on The Villages website and social media accounts in regards to the cancellations:
“Please know that based on recommendations from Governor DeSantis and health officials, St. Patrick’s Day events along with entertainment on the squares have been cancelled.”
[CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: Interactive map shows Florida coronavirus cases in real time]
The website also directed residents to links to the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is asking people to avoid mass gatherings.
Only a few people could be seen shopping and dining out in the Brownwood Paddock Square on Tuesday.
Many in The Villages said they are taking social distancing and COVID-19 precautions very seriously, especially since a woman in nearby Lady Lake tested positive for the contagious virus and a drive through testing area has been placed nearby.
“We’re just washing hands, washing hands,” said Pat Miller, who lives in The Villages. “And we’re not going to any of our clubs.”
"We not doing bocce ball now, not doing shuffle board," said her husband Kenneth Miller.
“We’re just staying home as much as we can, going to the store as little as we can,” said 81-year-old Jack Flowers, who has lived in The Villages for seven years.
Despite the coronavirus concerns, News 6 still found several people living in the 55-plus community going out to vote, getting in their exercise and trying to live as normal a life as possible.
“I think as long as you keep your distance and don’t go into big crowds and touching everything, I think we will be OK,” said The Villages resident Ginny Stockman. “I think they’ve gone overboard, I really do.”
While social distancing was top of mind for most, so was the state of the stock market.
“We just came from our stockbroker and we just sold all of our stocks. Everything,” Pat Miller said.
Many in The Villages have been watching and waiting for the latest updates to come down from both the president and the governor, and say they’re doing their part to keep COVID-19 from spreading any further.
“We don’t want to get sick here because most of the people are elderly,” Kenneth Miller said.
The Villages website and local newspaper are also offering residents push alerts as more information comes online.
Some residents say they are also cancelling in-person doctor appointments and opting for tele-medicine instead.