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'We're very concerned': Leaders worry about COVID after maskless spring breakers hit South Florida

A recent Travelocity survey shows that 60 percent of people are planning a spring or summer trip this year.
Credit: AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File
In this March 14, 2020, file photo, Tabatha Hannah, a student at St. Clair Community College, center, talks with Miami Beach police officers in Miami Beach, Fla.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — It appears the coronavirus isn't stopping spring breakers from having their fun at some of Florida's top destinations. And the Miami Beach area is no different.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber talked Friday with CNN's New Day, sharing his concerns as spring break starts to get underway in the Sunshine State. 

"We’re very concerned. A lot of things are happening simultaneously. You’ve got 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," he said, in part.

Gelber also expressed concern for the aftermath of spring break and people converging in Miami because they have pent-up energy and “no other place to go than here.”

It's the same concerns we are seeing here in Tampa Bay, thanks to a combination of warm weather, an open economy, no COVID test to travel domestically and few, if any, restrictions requiring COVID tests to visit.

“Frankly, our economy could use a little bit of a boost,” said Dr. Michael Teng, a physician with USF Public Health, “but you don’t wanna have it at the cost of more Floridians’ lives.”

Public health workers say it’s a concern, and not just for Florida. People bringing COVID variants here from all across the country will eventually head home.

“The thing that I’m more kind of concerned about,” said Teng, “these people are coming here and kind of congregating and mixing all the viruses together and sending them back.”

A recent Travelocity survey shows that 60 percent of people are planning a spring or summer trip this year.

"We are not taking big bucket list trips or vacations to far-flung destinations, instead we're easing back into travel with something called 'toe-dip trip,'" travel expert Melissa Dohmen said.

Even with colleges across the U.S. scaling back or canceling it entirely to discourage beachfront partying that could raise infection rates, many are anticipated to still hit the big party spots to blow off steam, according to the Associated Press. 

CBS Miami reports that students from more than 200 schools are expected to hit its area's beaches. Maskless spring breakers were spotted flocking to Ft. Lauderdale and Miami Beach, according to WSVN. The outlet adds that city leaders are closing beaches at 7 p.m. in an effort to keep things calm. 

Miami Beach also has a midnight curfew for businesses in the area, an ambient noise ordinance in place and officers and code enforcement handing out masks.

“We’re doing what we can and finding work arounds but it’s very hard and I would love to have the governor’s voice urging people to be responsible but we really don’t have that right now," Gelber told CNN.

Since the pandemic began, the department of health reports 1,948,307 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Florida.

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