Daniel Uhlfelder doesn't relish donning the all-black costume and hood in the heat, grabbing his scythe and wandering down to the beach. But the Florida attorney said he will keep dressing as the grim reaper until the coronavirus pandemic is taken seriously.
"I’m not going to give up until our leaders and elected officials are focusing on the real problems of this health crisis and this economic crisis," Uhlfelder told InsideEdition.com.
He said he isn't just worried about Floridians heading out to the beach amid the need for social distancing, but tourists as well. "We’re drawing people from hot spots all over the country to our state, and it’s going to cause, in my opinion, a bigger problem. It’s not going to help us flatten the curve or get back to normal, it’s going to prolong that," he added.
Dressing up as the grim reaper wasn't Uhlfelder's first attempt to try to keep people off the beaches. He filed a lawsuit to compel Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to close the beaches in April.
DeSantis did issue a 30-day stay at home order that went into effect on April 2, but moved to open some beaches a little more than two weeks later.
Uhlfelder worries that a surge could hit older people and those with underlying conditions. COVID-19 cases in Florida have already surpassed 39,000 and caused more than 1,600 deaths.
"My mom's birthday was a couple of days ago, and she lives in our area, but my kids couldn't hug my mom because she's in her 70s," Uhlfelder said. "It's hard to process, it's just difficult. I don't want that to ever happen again, and that's why I'm doing this. I'm doing this for people I care about and respect and love."
Uhlfelder said his wife, who was recently called Mrs. Grim Reaper when she went to pick up their son's cookie birthday cake, was initially skeptical, as were the couple's 9- and 11-year-old children.
But when "Saturday Night Live" mentioned Uhlfelder's stunt, "my kids and my wife were like, 'Oh, maybe we do need to pay attention to dad."
Still, Uhlfelder looks forward to the day when he can hang up his scythe for good. He's also launched a political action committee to raise money for Democrats looking to unseat Republicans in the state. And he hopes his activism will inspire others to take a stand on issues they care about.
"It’s easy to complain, it’s easy to sit on the sidelines nowadays and get on social media and just bash people and be a total critic. But who are the people who are out there doing things?" he said. "I’m doing something."