Spring Break Could Trigger A National Surge In Cases Fueled By Variants

Spring break is upon us as and despite the CDC’s non-essential travel warning, thousands of students and families are still traveling across the country. More than a million passengers have traveled through US airports daily for at least 11 days in a row, according to data from the TSA, breaking a record for travel during the pandemic. Many have flocked to Florida, with the state’s complete lack of Covid-19 restrictions a tempting respite for some. As spring break travelers return home to different corners of the U.S. they could accelerate the spread of the variants, prompting a potential national surge unless states cease relaxing Covid-19 restrictions

Let’s begin by looking at last year, Florida Governor Ron Desantis famously minimized the impact of spring break parties, neglecting the fact that as spring break travelers returned home they seeded the virus across the country. As infections eventually spread nationwide, Florida experienced its own surge in the summer and over winter (Figure 1). As public health officials have repeatedly cautioned throughout the pandemic, none of our population is safe from infection until the entire population is safe. If you look at the case rates in the table below (Figure 2) you will see how national cases rose dramatically after Spring break last year.

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Originally published on Forbes on March 25, 2021.

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.