The Democrat told CNN officials in the city are ‘very worried’ about a ‘real problem in the aftermath’ of trips made by college students to the Sunshine State.
His warning comes amid a surge in cases of the U.K. variant, B.1.1.7. Experts predict that is likely to become the dominant strain in the US this month; the strain currently makes up 30 to 40% of what is being seen in communities across the country.
Four weeks ago, the B.1.1.7 variant made up about 1 to 4% of the virus.
Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told NBC: ‘Let me just say we are in the eye of the hurricane right now. What we’ve seen in Europe, when we hit that 50% mark, you see cases surge.’
Variants that have originated abroad have been circulating throughout the country, including the variants from the UK, South Africa and Brazil, and as well as homegrown variants, such as those from New York and California.
Colleges around the U.S. have scaled spring break or canceled it all together. But that has not stopped thousands of students from flocking to Florida over the weekend.
Gelber told CNN: ‘We’re very concerned. You know, a lot of things are happening simultaneously. 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.
‘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.’
Miami Beach mayor Dan Gelber, pictured, has said he is ‘very concerned’ that the thousands of Spring Breakers who have descended on Florida will lead to COVID-19 outbreaks
The Democrat told CNN officials in the city are ‘very worried’ about a ‘real problem in the aftermath’ of trips made by college students to the Sunshine State, pictured this weekend
Colleges around the U.S. have scaled spring break or canceled it all together. But that has not stopped thousands of students from flocking to Florida over the weekend
Tourism is the Sunshine State’s No. 1 industry, generating over $91 billion in 2018, and last year spring break was one of the first big casualties of the pandemic as the U.S. went into strict lockdowns. Beach goers are pictured in Miami over the weekend
Gelber said the concern is that bars might ‘become the kinds of super-spreaders we saw a year ago’.
Tourism is the Sunshine State’s No. 1 industry, generating over $91 billion in 2018, and last year spring break was one of the first big casualties of the pandemic as the U.S. went into strict lockdowns, shutting down beaches across Florida just as alarming scenes of college students heedlessly drinking, dancing and getting up close without masks were plastered across social media.
Gelber also hit out at Governor Ron DeSantis, who in September declared that all bars and restaurants would be allowed to operate with at least 50 percent capacity.
He added: ‘I would love to have the governor’s voice urging people to be responsible, but we really don’t have that right now.
‘Once we pulled back everything and said we’re not even going to tell people they have to wear masks, we’ve had an enormous surge in deaths and hospitalizations. And that’s the facts. That’s science. That’s provable.’
Data shows the number of daily deaths has fallen sharply in the state in recent months
Cases of COVID-19 in Florida; there has been surge in cases of the U.K. variant, B.1.1.7. Experts predict that is likely to become the dominant strain in the US this month; the strain currently makes up 30 to 40% of what is being seen in communities across the country. Four weeks ago, the B.1.1.7 variant made up about 1 to 4% of the virus
On Friday Florida beach hotspot The Wharf said it has banned Spring Breakers from out of state who are under 23 years old n a further effort to curb Spring Break debauchery.
Elsewhere, Fort Lauderdale has vowed to enforce restrictions on alcohol and beach tents, while St. Petersburg and Clearwater launched campaigns to ensure visitors wear masks.
Frank Sousa, Interim Assistant Chief at Fort Lauderdale Police, told WSVN: ‘We understand there’s a lot of angst to get out and enjoy our beautiful weather and our beautiful beach, but we’re just asking for cooperation from our college students that do decide to come to Fort Lauderdale.’
Yet, local officials have been held back by orders from DeSantis, with city authorities losing the ability to bring down the capacity cap or to enforce shutdowns again.
DeSantis has been opposed to lockdowns and restrictions since the very start of the pandemic and has continued to welcome travelers even as new cases refused to drop.
‘We could potentially see a truly outsized spring break at a time when the last thing we want are major gatherings,’ Gelber had told the Wall Street Journal.
Coronavirus cases and deaths are continuing to plummet across the United States with some of the lowest daily figures recorded in months.
On Sunday, a total of 40,340 new infections were reported, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, which is a 28 percent decline from the 56,044 cases recorded just two weeks ago.
This is the lowest figure seen since October 5.
What’s more, the seven-day rolling average of new cases currently sits at 59,479, a 12 percent decline from the average 14 days earlier, a DailyMail.com analysis shows.
In addition, just 669 fatalities were reported on Sunday, the second time since 2021 began that deaths have fallen under 1,000.
It’s also the lowest number recorded since November 15
But while daily case numbers are trending downward, there are fears that a fourth wave is imminent as several states end all lockdown restrictions and scores of college students travel to Florida for Spring Break.
Texas A&M University opted for a three-day weekend instead of a whole week off. The University of Alabama and the University of Wisconsin-Madison also did away with spring break but are giving students a day off later in the semester.
Airline travel to Miami is down more than half from last year, said Rolando Adeo, chief operating officer of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors bureau.
But hotel occupancy is expected to reach 70% in Miami Beach this month, he said. While that’s down from 85% in 2019 pre-pandemic, it’s still a marked improvement from 43% last year.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis reported: ‘Hotel rates are very competitive and occupancy is also very high, so we’re excited for that.’
Florida has no statewide mask rules, limits on capacity or other such restrictions, courtesy of DeSantis’ pro-business stance. But local governments can impose rules, and they vary widely.
In Miami Beach, tourists are receiving cellphone messages warning, ‘Vacation Responsibly or Be Arrested.’
‘Spring break in Miami Beach may be one of the great rites of passage, but only if you plan on following the rules. Otherwise, you might as well just stay home and save yourself the court costs,’ the message reads.
It’s followed by a reminders that alcohol, coolers and tents are banned from its beach, a midnight curfew is in effect countywide, and no alcohol can be sold after 10 p.m.
‘If you want to party without restrictions, then go somewhere else. Go to Vegas,’ Miami Beach City Manager Raul Aguila said during a recent virtual city meeting.
Former U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb warned that coronavirus variants currently circulating may cause an uptick in new cases, but not a surge.
Gottlieb echoed comments made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and warned that the U.K. variant, B.1.1.7, is likely to become the dominant strain in the U.S. this month.
‘There’s probably some crossover in the immunity you get from B.1.1.7 and immunity against those other strains. That’s going to probably cause infections to tick back up,’ Gottlieb told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday.
‘I don’t think we’re going to see another surge of infection this spring, but we might see a plateauing before we see continued declines again.’
His warnings come on the heels of a new report that revealed 10 U.S. states have seen more than one in 500 of their residents die from COVID-19, a new report has revealed.
That shocking statistic was published by the COVID-19 Tracking Project on Sunday.