It was bumper to bumper driving down East Las Olas Boulevard on Sunday afternoon. Heading north after I reached A1A, the beaches were crowded as well. People were everywhere. Masks were nowhere.   

The Department of Health reported the deaths of another 183 residents in Florida from COVID-19 complications on Tuesday of this week. The numbers change daily, increasing occasionally and dropping now and then as well. It fools us.   

In Sunday’s Sun Sentinel, the lead sentence of Susannah Bryan’s story on the virus was that “Florida’s coronavirus cases continued on the downswing, with the state reporting 2,974 new cases and another 51 deaths.”   

We are being mentally bludgeoned by mind-boggling numbers that cannot be fathomed. We are getting abnormally anesthetized by “curves” and “spikes” we understand even less.  

Know this, though. There is nothing to celebrate on a day where nearly 3,000 new infections are reported.   

There is nothing normal about 50 deaths on an August weekend from a virus our nation should have got a handle on in March.   

In China, where it all began, they are opening water parks and beaches safely. Maybe we should be following them instead of a president praising a witch doctor and gargling with Lysol. 

In Florida, you can’t get elective surgeries, hospitals are full, patients are still dying, and premature obituaries are filling newspaper pages. It did not have to be this way. 

Months into the pandemic, our country has failed to develop a unified national strategy. We work through a haphazard collection of patchwork measures, woefully uncoordinated. As I wrote a few weeks ago, we have become the United States of Pandemica. 

Yesterday, more students at the University of Alabama tested positive than the country of Canada. The beaches are beautiful. The sun is shining. Don’t be fooled. People are still dying.   

When you read that Florida “only reported 2,678 cases on August 17,” and that “is the lowest number of confirmed cases in two months,” don’t be fooled. That is 2,678 too many. 

The real question for all of us still standing is what we are doing to make it better. Wear a mask, or call it a face covering, but use it. Get tested. Be socially distant. Stay hygienically sound. Simple things. If you are on the beach, wear sunglasses, not blinders.   

In the gay community, we know a simple condom today can stop the transmission of a deadly virus tomorrow. So don’t be lulled into submission. We know we must fight our own battles. Let’s show the way. I don’t want to read or have to write about pandemic parties in LGBT homes.    

At the Republican convention this week, one of the president’s tools spoke of the virus in the past tense. Tell that to Herman Cain. He spoke at the last Republican convention. He was buried for this one.    

The lines may be long at Publix and the traffic at Five Points may be backed up, but don’t be fooled. So are hospitals and doctors’ offices, locally and statewide.    

South Florida reported over 1,000 new cases on Tuesday. The 201 in Broward County bring our unwelcome total to 69,584. Does that sound like it went away, or just disappeared like a “miracle,” Mr. Trump?   

The President of the United States and his government are complicit in a criminal conspiracy to normalize a national crisis. If you test less, we won’t know. If you ignore it, it will go away. That does not even work for an athlete's foot, let alone a microscopic virus. Sure, it is fool’s gold, but our nation is led by a fool on a hill.   

We are being governed by voices who are lying, not leading, deceptive not honest. Be the smart one. Don't fall for their dishonesty. What do you have to lose? Your life.  

None of us want this, I know. We want to believe, optimistically, like Dr. Pangloss in Voltaire’s “Candide,” that all is well, and this is the best of all possible worlds. It could be, but it is not right now.     

Every day we hear of another friend taken ill and another life interrupted. Don’t be lulled into complacency.  COVID-19 is still stealing lives and robbing livelihoods. Yes, I am being redundant. I am trying to pound my words into your head.  

As we try to shake it, “it” is shaking us; the foundations of who we are, what we can do, and where we can go. It’s up to us to rise to the challenge.  Help make it better, not worse.   

Rapid testing is now available in Fort Lauderdale at Holiday Park. Make an appointment and learn your status. You could be asymptomatic but a carrier. Learning about your own condition might save a friend and help you get treated early, if you are positive. Do your part today so that we are all safer tomorrow.