Spring break begins for hundreds of universities this month. And the typical spring holidays can lead to countless more Americans getting infected, as coronavirus variants threaten to outpace vaccinations.
“This is the perfect storm,” said Dr. Peter Hottes, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
“Option B.1.1.7 is accelerating in Florida. You have all these 20-year-olds. None of them will have masks. They will all drink. They have quite close, intimate contact. And then, after everything is ready, they will return to their home countries and distribute option B.1.1.7. ”
So students who have a week off can help create or break through the next chapter in this pandemic. Here’s what you need to know before you go to a party or travel to a hotspot for spring break:
Strain B.1.1.7 is really, really infected
“Florida has the highest percentage of option B.1.1.7 UK,” Hottes said. “Spring break in Florida could be a disaster for the country.”
“A lot of (students) will also go to South Texas, and that’s also worrying,” said Hottes, who lives in Houston.
Hotez said the resignation in his country would have a ripple effect across the country.
“It will accelerate Covid-19 nationally,” he said.
You cannot rely on a negative test result to be safe
Young people are definitely not immune
While young people are more likely to be asymptomatic when infected, it also means that they can easily spread the virus to friends and family without realizing it.
But even young, previously healthy adults have experienced long-term complications of Covid-19.
In one study, 35% of Covid-19 survivors still had symptoms two to three weeks after their tests, according to a CDC study.
Alcohol plus parties often equals zero protection
Attempts to physically distance themselves and wear masks usually go out the window at parties involving alcohol.
It’s not just drinking that makes people take off their masks (if they wear them at all). Alcohol can make people closer to each other than usual, Hotez said.
This is especially dangerous during this spring break, when parties in popular hotspots may not only be exposed to students from all over the country – they may also be exposed to variants or outbreaks from those parts of the country.
“So now is not the time to have a scattered event for this option in the UK that would look like a spring break in Florida,” Hotez said.
“It’s not the time to send a bunch of 20-year-olds to Florida and then send them back, distributing them all over the country.”
Pandemic fatigue is real – but completely defeated
Not celebrating spring break the way you want it to this year can seem devastating. But there will be many more chances for a party once everyone is vaccinated.
“The best thing to do right now is to avoid big trips unless you’ve been vaccinated or you’ve been infected recently,” Hotez said. “Just try to keep a cover on everything we can until we can fully vaccinate.”
Unfortunately, most students are not vaccinated against Covid-19. But there is some great news on the horizon:
– If enough people are vaccinated, this will probably be the last year of major disturbances in Covid-19.
“The current vaccines are ‘working really well’ against the disturbing option B.1.1.7,” Hotez said.
– The sooner we vaccinate and bring Covid-19 under control, the sooner we can return to normal life.
“I know it’s disappointing,” Hottes said. “But try to maximize social distance and masks, and this may be the last spring break you should give up.”