- Spring breakers could increase the spread of the highly-transmissible B117 variant, CNN reported.
- Global health expert Dr. Peter Hotez has warned that these vacations could “spell disaster” for the country.
- Florida, a popular spring break location, has more cases of the B117 variant than any other sate.
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Spring break, which begins for many colleges this month, could trigger the rampant spread of new COVID-19 variants across the US, a world-leading global health expert told CNN.
While CDC advice remains to stay at home and avoid travel, students opting to vacation at spring break hotspots might accelerate the transmission of highly contagious strains.
“It’s the perfect storm,” Dr. Peter Hotez, founding dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, told CNN.
Hotez said he is particularly concerned that college students heading to Florida’s beaches could result in a surge of cases of the B117 coronavirus variant, also known as the UK variant.
“You’ve got the B117 variant accelerating in Florida. You’ve got all these 20-year-old kids. None of them are going to have masks. They’re all going to be drinking. They’re having pretty close, intimate contact,” he told CNN. “And then, after that’s all done, they’re going to go back to their home states and spread the B117 variant.”
The B117 variant is believed to be up to 74% more contagious than the original virus. Florida, one of the most popular spring break locations, is currently the epicenter of the highly transmissible strain.
“Spring break in Florida could spell disaster for the country,’ Hotez told CNN.
“This is not the time to have a superspreader event for that UK variant, which is what spring break in Florida would look like,” Hotez added. “This is not the time to be sending a bunch of 20-year-olds to Florida, then sending them back, disseminating it across the country.”
Mayor Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, Florida, shares these concerns. He told CNN that spring breakers congregating at bars, hotels, and restaurants “might become the kinds of super-spreaders that I think we saw a year ago.”
—New Day (@NewDay) March 5, 2021
Miami Beach has launched an ad campaign urging young people to vacation responsibly, reported The Wall Street Journal.
Bars, restaurants, and clubs will remain open because the city is unable to keep them closed due to a state executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis, the paper reported.
Gelber said that he would “love to have the governor’s voice urging people to be responsible.” But, he told CNN that this is not happening.
Gov. Ron DeSantis chose never to implement statewide mask mandates. Last year, Florida became of the biggest states to loosen COVID-19 restrictions when DeSantis reopened all restaurants, hotels, and bars at full capacity.