Even after Donald Trump last week announced new federal guidelines for “social distancing,” and other measures to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, thousands of college students and other young people ignored those recommendations and flooded beaches in Florida for the annual spring break partying ritual, according to CBS News.
With spring break week mostly wrapping up on Sunday, however, it now appears that there have been consequences for at least some of those students, and anyone who comes in contact with them. According to a report by WFLA TV News in Tampa, Florida, six college students there have now tested positive for coronavirus after returning from spring break.
The “social distancing” guidelines require individuals to avoid gathering in large groups, and to maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people, to avoid transmitting or catching the highly contagious coronavirus. Students during the spring break period appeared oblivious to those guidelines.
“Everything might be canceled due to #CoronavirusPandemic concerns, but oh man, the beach is packed,” one CBS News reporter wrote on her Twitter account on March 14.
Though he ordered restaurants and bars closed in the state, Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis did not order the state’s beaches to shut down over the spring break period, according to the CBS News report.
Of the six students who tested positive, all of whom attend the University of Tampa, one spent the period on an international trip, but the other five traveled domestically for spring break. The university, according to WFLA, did not reveal to where the students had traveled, but said that four had returned to campus and were currently self-isolating. None of the students were currently hospitalized for the disease.
DeSantis said last week that he would authorize sheriff’s deputies to patrol beaches in all-terrain vehicles, in order to prevent spring breakers from gathering in large groups. The test results for the University of Tampa students call into question the effectiveness of those measures, without an actual closure of the beaches.
Florida has seen 11 deaths from coronavirus infection, according to data compiled by The New York Times. The number of fatalities in the state is expected to double every four days, according to the NYT data, due to the extremely contagious nature of the virus.
The state of Washington leads the country in total coronavirus deaths with 95, with doubling of that figure expected every seven days, according to NYT. New York is next, with 76 deaths, but that mortality figure will double every two days, if the data is correct.