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Local medical expert weighs in on safe spring break plans

With Florida being such a big spring break destination, we ask a virologist how safe will it be during the pandemic.

TAMPA, Fla. — Spring break is less than a month away for many families and it's likely some of you are already making travel plans.

We've had a number of people coming to Florida this winter for things like Super Bowl LV in Tampa and the Daytona 500 on the other coast. 

So, how do we stay safe, whether it's from an influx of visitors, or if you and your family are leaving town? 

USF virologist Dr. Michael Teng says we do need to be careful.

 "The one thing about spring break is there's a lot of outdoor activity and that may mitigate it somewhat. It's really these kinds of enclosed spaces that are really hotbeds for transmission," Dr. Teng said. 

Dr. Teng says to keep in mind that some of the younger people coming here to party could be asymptomatic or simply not as sick with the virus, but still carry it. That means the transmission is likely happening. 

He says it's wise to keep your distance from crowded outdoor spaces. 

As far as Floridians planning to travel out of state, Dr. Teng recommends against it, even if you get a test before you go. 

"The tests are great, but they are really just a snapshot in time. At the particular moment that you got swabbed or if it's a saliva test that you gave a saliva sample. That's when you're testing. You're not testing an hour later. You're not testing a day later. It's just at that particular time."

If you do plan to fly somewhere Dr. Teng has these tips:

  • Don't take your mask off on the plane, not even to eat or drink. He says most flights are 3 hours or less and you can make it that long. 
  • Keep your distance from others inside the airport.
  • Use hand sanitizer often.

Dr. Teng still has concerns about travel to visit elderly relatives, even if they've been vaccinated, because there's still a chance they could get COVID-19. Now, if all parties are fully vaccinated, then it's a safer situation, according to Dr. Teng. 

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