Despite vaccination rollout and declining numbers of cases in some areas, the U.S. is still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some spring breakers seem to have forgotten this truth.
According to CNN, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said in a statement that Florida is already seeing packed beaches as spring break begins for many people across the country.
"We're very concerned. You know, a lot of things are happening simultaneously. You have the variant down here, and we still are having sometimes dozens of deaths a day in our county," Gelber told CNN's New Day.
As numbers of cases and deaths decline across the country, many people are tempted to let their guard down, so to speak, when it comes to using masks and social distancing to control the spread of the virus. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, this can actually prolong the pandemic.
"When you see a plateau at a level as high as 60,000 cases a day, that is a very vulnerable time to have a surge, to go back up. That's what exactly happened in Europe," Dr. Fauci told CNN on Sunday. "The younger people, particularly, stopped wearing masks. All of a sudden, you have a surge that went right back up."
Gelber noted that the combination of gathering and lax use of masks with cheaper airfare could lead to a super-spreader event. "And at the same time, we've got incredibly cheap round-trip tickets for 40 bucks from anywhere in the Northeast down here, discounted rooms and people who have been really…pent up and wanting to get out with no other place to go than here," Gelber told CNN. "So we are very worried that there's going to be a convergence of people here and a real problem in the aftermath of that."
According to Local 10 News in Florida, about 150 people were arrested in Miami Beach over the weekend, though many of the arrests reportedly stemmed from unruly behavior, weapons, and drug usage. Confrontations between police and beachgoers also led to two officer injuries.
Miami is under a midnight curfew. While Florida does not currently have a statewide mask mandate, Governor Ron DeSantis issued an order back in September that left COVID-19-related restrictions up to city and local governments (while also suspending all fines and penalties associated with said restrictions), according to U.S. News. Miami currently has a mask mandate that is explained on the city's government website.
Any spring breakers should continue to take cautionary measures including wearing masks and social distancing, as well as avoiding large gatherings, as per the CDC. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer also tweeted on Saturday, "We've come a long way as a community in slowing the spread of the virus. As you enjoy our city and our wonderful weather this weekend, continue your pandemic precautions. Together, let's keep Orlando moving forward."
Andrea Romano is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @theandrearomano.
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