As federal, state, and local leaders continue to rush towards solutions on how to get Orlando through the Coronavirus pandemic, I reflect on how this all would have happened if this occurred 30 years ago. It’s an exercise used to try to break down the problem to it’s simplest elements and try to find solutions.
There were no groundbreaking new solutions but it was an interesting exercise.
– And for this exercise, we’re going to keep the government decisions the same up to this point. This means the tri county area either has a shutdown order or a social distancing order in place.
– In 1990 Orlando, the major roads are the same but many others still don’t exist. This means I4, the 408, OBT, and 436 are still major arteries. The 417 is almost brand new.
– Sadly, the economy is the same. We were still staffing theme parks, including a brand new Universal Studios that is preparing to open and the Disney theme parks. We were also beginning our accelerated development phase. Apartments on the east side, Apopka, the west side, and Pine Hills is booming at this time.
Here is what is different:
Not as many medical facilities.
But we’re also not as big of a population either.
And we’re also not living as tightly together. There are a lot of halfway done subdivisions. I know. After school the kids would go and play on them. Safe right?
Okay here we go.
Orlando medical facilities are already feeling the pressure: Three medical hubs on the East side next to 408, Altamonte Springs, and downtown might not have as many people to deal with, but the support system simply isn’t as vast. It’s not Advent health, it’s Florida Hospital again, and the empire is just a fraction of what it is now.
Unemployment is still expected to be high, but there is more room for change: tourism is still a big part of the workforce but we’re still growing in other areas, including local government and other retail services. We’re also seeing neighborhoods grow during this time. Small businesses are still popping up. While it won’t happen right away, new jobs will grow and we won’t be as two dimensional. This might have even been a lesson that we needed to diversify sooner.
Sports: The Orlando arena will be empty as the Magic see their first season in the league canceled. The Orlando Sun Rays minor league club would also see a still standing Tinker Field empty.
News: With no digital news, newspaper subscriptions are everywhere and people are still picking up a copy at the Jiffy or Lil Champ every morning. While CNN is still making noise, it will be the big three, WESH, WKMG, WFTV that people will go to for local news. Some of the people from back then are still working today. Not everyone has Cablevision, so the evening news will still be required viewing.
Entertainment: It’s a Blockbuster or Mega Movies kind of night. You’ll probably walk up to the window and they’ll get your VHS tape for you. You’ve got a Nintendo, or a Sega Genesis if you’re lucky enough. There is also the Rimar Drive Through and others to get you out of the house.
Public education: It’s still distance learning. But instead, parents are picking up books and worksheets from teachers once a week. The phone is also being used to maintain contact.
How would it have ended?: Well, just like the story here is still being written, there isn’t enough information to say. We might have been more spread apart back then but the science isn’t as good and medical services were a fraction of what they are now. The only thing that remains clear is the best method for fighting the pandemic is still basically the same advice we’re getting now. Keep your distance and stay clean.