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Dear Coronavirus,

Welcome to Miami. And by “welcome,” I mean “please put a Clorox-soaked bullet in your head and bury yourself in the Everglades,” but we’re all about social tact in South Florida. Nevertheless, you’re here, and like a flock of New Jersey snowbirds, we can’t wait to be rid of you.

We’ve dealt with Zika, and hurricanes, and drug wars (our skyline is mostly built of cocaine, tax fraud, and, I’m told, some steel). We’ve suffered through debilitating economic downturns, refugee crises, and Jeff Loria. Our public transportation is composed of mule-drawn wooden carts and our official poverty alleviation program calls for five more express lanes and 12 new stadiums. Yes, dear coronavirus, we were dealing with a lot before you showed up, and you’ve made just about everything worse. Except for Jeff Loria. He was already the worst.

I could, of course, level some of that patented Miami bravado at you. Say things like, “We’re a city of hardscrabble immigrants! We deal with scarier things than you over café cubano and tostada! Etc. etc.” But the truth is, you’re terrifying.

You turned a kiss on the cheek from a rich cultural greeting into a possible hospital stay. You ground our city to a halt, destroyed our economy, and threatened the lives our parents and abuelos. You endangered our weakest and most vulnerable, both physically and financially.

I can rant and rave at you all day, but the fact of the matter is I’m doing so from the confines of my living room couch, where you’ve trapped me for the foreseeable future. I hate and fear you. I bury those feelings with work, exercise, Netflix, and sazón completo, but just like me, the emotions aren’t going anywhere. So what to do in these trying times?

Be kind to each other. I know this concept might seem alien to many who braved the mortal vehicular combat others erroneously defined as rush hour on the 836, but kindness (along with joy, bluster, hand-waving, and speaking several orders of magnitude louder than appropriate) is part of our cultural DNA. We help our neighbors clear the streets and rebuild after hurricanes. We share the bounty of mango season with friends and strangers alike. We joke and banter with people from all walks of life at cafetería ventanitas. We welcome visitors into our homes like family.

Miami is a city brimming with problems but overflowing with good people. We must channel that decency into helping each other. Check up on your friends and family. Cook a meal for a health care worker, janitor, or other essential personnel who is so often ignored, but on whom our entire society currently depends. Volunteer to retrieve an elderly neighbor’s groceries. Forward an unemployed acquaintance’s resume.

We are proactive hustlers by nature, so I empathize with the desire to go out and do something constructive for our fellow Miamians. Nevertheless, we must also maintain social distancing and adhere to curfews and lockdowns. Our jobs, parents, and suspended way of life depend on it. After all, sometimes the kindest thing we can do is remain firmly on our couches.

P.S. Coronavirus, vete pa’l carajo.

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Andrew OtazoAndrew Otazo

'Miami Creation Myth' author Andrew Otazo has advised officials on Cuba policy, worked for the Mexican president, fired a tank, and ran with 30lbs of trash.

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