Some warm-weather cities are worried that spring breakers could lead to new COVID-19 outbreaks, nearly a year after the onset of the pandemic cut 2020's spring break season short.
On Friday, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber appeared on CNN's New Day and said the city is "very concerned" about vacationers, especially as Miami-Dade county averages more than 1,000 new COVID cases a day and different variants of virus continue to crop up.
"A lot of things are happening simultaneously," Gelber said. "You have the variant down here, and we still are having sometimes dozens of deaths a day in our county."
"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," he continued. "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."
Despite some colleges canceling spring break, Miami Beach Police told CBS News that students from more than 200 schools are expected to head to the city this season, with the largest crowds taking place right now.
Gelber said on CNN that he is most concerned that gatherings at bars "might become the kinds of super-spreaders that I think we saw a year ago" and noted that police officers are handing out face masks in the absence of a mask mandate from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
"I would love to have the governor's voice urging people to be responsible, but we really don't have that right now," Gelber said. "Since we opened everything up and didn't allow us to impose a mask mandate, there has been a massive amount of suffering."
Meanwhile, photos from nearby Fort Lauderdale, first published by the Sun-Sentinel, show people packed into outdoor bars, without a mask in sight.
"I was here two years ago and came back to see what it's like now with COVID," a visitor from Michigan, 21-year-old Jack Gumeinny, told the outlet. "Florida hasn't skipped a beat."
Steve Geller, the mayor of Fort Lauderdale's Broward County, said he "will take action" to curb the partying if the city doesn't.
"We're in the middle of a pandemic," Geller told the Sun Sentinel. "I'm not opposed to college kids having fun — just not in the middle of a pandemic."
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