As countries across the globe are imploring their citizens to comply with physical (social) distancing sanctions in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, in Florida, Spring Breakers have paid little notice to the warnings as hundreds of students gathered to party despite the pandemic.
For those not familiar with Spring Break, it’s an annual event across the world that is particularly popular in parts of America. Students gather en masse for bikini-clad celebrations, downing large quantities of booze, and partaking in general beach time frivolities that quite often involve the opposite of physical distancing, with Florida being a popular location for students across the country.
Major gatherings across the globe have been canceled and postponed in an effort to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19, and physical distancing sanctions warned the Spring Break attendees of 2020 that going ahead with the coastal parties was a bad idea. Beaches across America have been closed to prevent gatherings, but Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida failed to enforce such restrictions, according to NBC News.
With the beaches still open, students refused to be deterred from their Spring Break celebrations and countless interviews have captured the revelers stating they’re not worried about the outbreak and refusing to let it get in the way of the party, even though many bars and restaurants at the beach were closed in response to the outbreak.
The short-sighted and ultimately selfish decision has unsurprisingly turned on one group of students from the University of Tampa, as it was announced that five students who attended the festivities have tested positive for the COVID-19 disease. The university wrote in a post on Twitter: “UT has been notified that five UT students, traveling together and with other UT students during Spring Break, have tested positive for COVID-19. We sincerely wish our students, and any others who may be affected, a full and rapid recovery.”
None of the students have required hospitalization and all are currently self-isolating at home, but it remains unclear how much contact they had with others on their return from the Florida party and how long they may have been contagious while at the beach. As Spring Break is attended by students from all over America, the event poses an excellent opportunity for the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen to extend to far-flung corners of the country and some are asking if Spring Breakers will be the next wave of super spreaders.
DeSantis has since limited gatherings at Florida beaches to no more than 10 people and has filed to shut the beaches in Broward and Palm Beach counties, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Beaches have also been closed in Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa Bay, Naples, and Jacksonville in the wake of the Spring Breakers’ disregard for physical distancing advice, though as this come after rather than before the thousands descended on the coast, damage has already been done.
And if you still don't get why physical distancing is vital, this gif will show you in just 10 seconds.