Race to vaccinate clashing with spring break crowds causing concern, experts say

The race to vaccinate in Florida is also up against maskless crowds of spring breakers, which could be a difficult mix for an uptick in virus cases.

MIAMI, Fla. – The race to vaccinate with current statewide age eligibility set at 50 and older is up against a South Florida spring break season that has featured teeming crowds of mostly maskless visitors.

That’s why medical experts are watching two key metrics right now: The state’s vaccination rate and COVID-19 case numbers.

Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo, M.D., of University of Miami Health System, an internal medicine and primary care doctor.

“Every day, we are doing better with vaccinations, but we are nowhere near where we can start to not wear masks,” said Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo, M.D., of the University of Miami Health System.

Carrasquillo said that while the positivity rate has plateaued, there is worry about what impact the behavior could have on the region’s COVID-19 cases.

“We get concerned when we see these videos that we have been seeing at South Beach. Many of these people are tourists. We are concerned of them taking it back where they came from, but that they also interact with the locals. . . we are concerned that (numbers) are going to start going up in the next couple of weeks especially because we have these more infectious variants,” Carrasquillo said.

At last check with the Centers For Disease Control, Florida remains the state with the most confirmed variant cases.

The numbers stand at more than 1,000 UK variant cases, 23 of the Brazilian variant and 10 South African variant.

“The people who are partying, they all think they are invincible, but we have seen young people get really sick with COVID,” Carrasquillo said.

The other concern? They could spread it to local at-risk residents who haven’t yet had the chance to get vaccinated.

“That’s almost even scarier that these people who didn’t participate in any of these activities, have been doing all the right things, and are suddenly exposed to people that didn’t behave responsibly. So, that worries us a lot,” Carrasquillo said.

The doctor also points out that hospitalization data usually trails behind any uptick in percent positive cases, which adds another metric medical experts will be keeping an eye on — patients admitted to hospitals.

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."