Spring break invasion of South Florida spurred by cheap fares and lax Covid-19 restrictions

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Spring break invasion of South Florida spurred by cheap fares and lax Covid-19 restrictions


Cheap flights, cheap hotels and the ability to party in a very sunny location with virtually no Covid-19 restrictions have created a “perfect storm” amid the pandemic in South Florida, warned Monday the mayor of Miami.

And local officials are bracing for more chaos over spring break, like the one that happened this weekend in Miami Beach when the crowds grew too big and too savage and police cracked down on them, a- he declared.

“There is no question that Miami and the Miami area and the state is probably one of the most open states in the whole country,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, a Republican, said on MSNBC. “It created a kind of perfect storm that people can come to Miami. It is very inexpensive. I was told that some of the flights cost $ 50 and even the hotels are very cheap. So it has been a very difficult mix of cheap flights, cheap hotels and being considered possibly the most open place in the country. “

Police officers arrest a man as they enforce an 8-hour curfew imposed by local authorities during the spring break, amid the coronavirus pandemic, in Miami Beach on March 20, 2021.Marco Bello / Reuters

Suarez spoke out a day after city leaders across Biscayne Bay in Miami Beach voted to extend the 8-hour curfew in the South Beach entertainment district until the end of this month and maybe until mid-April.

“We are obviously bracing for the possibility that there will be a fallout from some of these measures taken in Miami Beach with the early curfews and early road closures for people entering Miami Beach, so we’re ready for that.” , he said.

Suarez’s concerns about a deluge of spring break visitors from afar who do not want to wear masks or practice social distancing – and are not required by local authorities to do so – have been echoed for weeks by public health experts.

“Any event involving increased travel and people relaxing preventative measures is of concern,” Amber D’Souza, professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told NBC News earlier. “This is exactly what we saw after Thanksgiving and after Christmas. … It is a continuous cycle and a constant concern. “

Crowded South Florida has been the epicenter of the pandemic in a state where more than 2 million people have been infected and 33,369 have died from Covid-19, according to the latest NBC News tally.

People gather as they exit the area as the 8 p.m. curfew goes into effect in Miami Beach on March 21, 2021.Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Since February, when the invasion began, Miami Beach police have made more than 1,000 arrests, half of which are out-of-state residents.

Local police were taken to extremes, so Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber called for reinforcements from neighboring Dade County communities, as well as the Florida Highway Patrol.

And the crowds that have descended on Miami Beach are different this year, the mayor said.

“I don’t see this to be some sort of spring break thing, because I don’t think they’re college kids,” he said on Sunday. “I think it changes the nature of what we’re up against here. I think there are very few places that have been opened because our state has been.

In Florida, as is the case with most of the country, the daily number of Covid-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations has declined as more people get vaccinated, NBC figures show News.

But the state is leading the nation in even more contagious variants, and the positivity rate for the Covid-19 test has increased in recent times, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican who appears to be positioning himself as the heir to former President Donald Trump in the White House, has been harshly criticized for his performance in the event of the pandemic and has been accused by rival Democrats and others use vaccine distribution to score political points. with key groups such as the elderly.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis attends a press conference at a Navarro Discount pharmacy in Hialeah, Florida on February 23, 2021.Wilfredo Lee / AP

DeSantis has defended his decision not to impose mask warrants and lift restrictions on the economy, and has sought advice from some of the same scientists Trump has relied on, such as Dr Scott Atlas and Dr Jay Bhattacharya , both from Stanford University, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

Among other things, their practical approach to the pandemic, their opposition to lockdowns and their skepticism about the effectiveness of masks have been denounced by most public health experts.

While the initial vaccine rollout was marred by chaos and poor planning, on Monday, about a quarter of the state’s population had received at least one vaccine and 13% were fully immunized, according to statistics from the New York Times. . This puts Florida (the nation’s third most populous state) on par with California (the nation’s most populous state) and a little behind more than half of the other states, but not by much.

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