- Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber on Saturday said that Florida has a problem.
- Too many people are visiting for spring break, he said.
- In March 2020, the state hosted droves of partying young people before the US saw a major outbreak.
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History may soon repeat itself in Florida, where some beaches are already packed with spring breakers, according to CNN.
“We’re seeing too much spring break activity,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber told CNN on Saturday. “We’ve got a problem with too many people coming here. We’ve got a problem with too many people coming here to let loose.”
“We are concerned,” he said. “It’s very challenging.”
Air travel has risen to its highest level in nearly a year, according to The Transportation Security Administration. On Saturday, a spokesperson for the agency said that TSA had screened about 1.4 million people at airport security checkpoints on Friday, the highest number of passengers since March 15, 2020, when about 1.5 million people were screened, Insider reported.
This rise in travel coinciding with the beginning of spring breaks and generally warmer weather, making Florida a popular destination for people who could potentially spread COVID-19.
“We’ve come a long way as a community in slowing the spread of the virus,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said on Twitter. “As you enjoy our city and our wonderful weather this weekend, continue your pandemic precautions.”
In September, Florida lifted all COVID-19 restrictions on all businesses in the state, allowing local governments to enforce stricter protocols however they chose.
Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor, recently said that more lockdowns or travel restrictions “ain’t happening in Florida,” WPTV NewsChannel 5 reported.
The governor has been critical of President Joe Biden’s calls for continued precautions and has generally adopted a more laissez-faire approach to public health restrictions.
Last year, Florida made headlines for the droves of young people that partied there with abandon, then returned to their homes throughout the US and abroad, an analysis by Tectonix GEO X-Mode Social found, based on anonymized cell phone data.
It can’t really be known how widely the spring break parties spread the coronavirus, but by the end of March 2020, Florida cases had more than tripled, from 1,700 on March 1 to 5,473 by March 30. Cases as far away as California and Massachusetts have been linked to a single event, the “Winter Party Festival,” in Miami Beach, The New York Times reported.
DeSantis didn’t order people to stay home until April 1, but little testing was available at the time. The Winter Party Festival ended the day before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the Times reported.
Florida coronavirus cases peaked in January 2021 at about 19,500 new cases per day. Today they’ve leveled off to roughly 5,244 daily cases, according to a Times tracker. Nearly 4 million people have been vaccinated, about 18% of the state’s population.