TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Health experts have issued a warning about the possibility of a spike in coronavirus cases ahead of the upcoming Spring Break period.
“Any event that involves increased travel and people relaxing preventative measures is a concern,” Amber D’Souza, a professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health told NBC News.
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discourages unnecessary travel, airports are expecting an uptick in travel through spring and summer as families grow frustrated with pandemic limitations.
The CDC says COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have decreased in recent weeks, but carelessness during Spring Break could still have serious consequences.
“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.”
Five beaches in Tampa Bay are now ranked among the top 25 in the country, including Madeira Beach, Treasure Island, Siesta Key Beach and Clearwater Beach with St. Pete Beach topping the list.
Last March, at the beginning of the pandemic, spring breakers flocked to beaches in Florida to soak up the sun. Governor Ron DeSantis refused to close beaches despite the spread of COVID-19.
This year, some Florida cities have new restrictions in place ahead of Spring Break.
In Miami Beach, there will be a midnight curfew at the entertainment district and drinking is not allowed on the beach.
“If you’re coming here because you think it’s an anything-goes place, please turn around or go somewhere else,” Mayor Dan Gelber told WPLG-TV on Monday.
In Broward County commissioners are at odds over a curfew and other COVID-19 restrictions.
District 12 Commissioner Michael Udine says, “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 says, “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.”
Some South Florida businesses area willing to follow implemented guidelines. The general manager at El Camino, Brian Gough explains, “If they have something they want to enforce we are going to follow it to a T, that may change week by week, we are just trying to keep up with it and run a business.”
Health experts say if you do decide to travel, some options are safer than others. Trips in a car are a much better choice than travel by plane or train. They also recommend going on camping trips or visiting state and national parks instead of crowded areas to allow for social distancing.