Experts warn Spring Break travel could spark new COVID surge in Florida

by DailyHealthPost Editorial

After last year’s Spring Break period proved disastrous for Florida and the U.S., health experts are warning that Spring Break 2021 can be just as bad.

“Any event that involves increased travel and people relaxing preventative measures is a concern,” said Amber D’Souza, a professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

As was the case with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, airports are once again expecting an uptick in public travel during the Spring Break period despite warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

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This event does come in at a time when Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are falling, which health experts acknowledge. But they also point out that the numbers are still relatively high and can grow much higher because of Spring Break travel.

“The rates have come down,” D’Souza said, “but they’re still not what we would consider low. We’re just much better than where we were a month ago.”

And people are indeed tempted to take a trip to the beach during this year’s Spring Break. Not only are we just now getting out of a pretty harsh winter but after a year of partial quarantine and isolation, many people are itching for the beach. And with five of Tampa Bay’s beaches ranking in the Top 25 in the country, it’s understandable why people want to go there.

And yet, the dangers remain.

As with last year, Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis has refused to close the state’s beaches despite the ongoing pandemic. Instead, this time he’s ordered cities to have some restriction for the Spring Break travelers. These include:

  • Midnight curfew
  • No drinking alcohol at the beach
  • Keeping a 6-foot distance with strangers at the beach

Despite these and other restrictions, many are remaining skeptical about whether people will actually adhere to the rules.

“If you’re coming here because you think it’s an anything-goes place, please turn around or go somewhere else,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber. Additionally, the police commissioners of different Florida counties are also conflicted about the curfews. 

Spring Break travel could cause coronavirus surge, doctors say.

District 12 Commissioner Michael Udine said that “If you look at the cities that are more strict, their rates of positivity are much higher than the cities that have had a little bit more openness, there’s been no difference.”

Broward Mayor Steve Geller said, “If the cities are willing to enforce county shut down orders and their own shut down orders there would not be a limitation of hours necessary.”

Health experts nevertheless insist that restrictions are necessary to minimize the damage if people are adamant about traveling.

They also add that if you’re sure you want to travel, doing so by car is much safer than by plane or train.

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They also recommend switching up the Spring Break tradition with camping trips or state and national park visits instead of going to crowded beaches and city centers.

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