Earlier this week, horrifying images of thousands of spring breakers crowding onto Florida’s Clearwater Beach in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic surfaced online, sparking widespread outrage. Now, five Florida college students have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
The students—who attend the University of Tampa—were tested during spring break, CBS-affiliated WKBN reports. They vacationed together, along with other UT students during spring break before it was confirmed that they have coronavirus. The school didn’t divulge where they traveled during break or if they lived on or off campus.
“We sincerely wish our students, and any others who may be affected, a full and rapid recovery,” the official UT Twitter account wrote. On March 17, the school moved to online classes only.
While Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued strict mandates on bars and nightclubs, he didn’t order the closing of the state’s beaches in what many thought was a timely manner. Because of that, local leaders have had to make those decisions themselves. “What we're going to be doing is, simply, for the statewide floor for beaches, is applying the CDC guidance of no group on a beach more than 10 and you have to have distance apart if you're going to be out there,” DeSantis said recently, per CBS News. “Different localities are going to make decisions about what makes sense.”
In a later interview with Fox News, he again reiterated the 10-person rule, adding, “Every single beach will have to abide by the CDC guidelines . . . Not every beach is going to remain open.”
However, his suggestion for social distancing seems to have fallen on deaf ears. In a now-infamous video, spring breaker Brady Sluder told Reuters, “If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I'm not gonna let it stop me from partying.” He continued, “We're just out here having a good time. Whatever happens, happens.”
On March 18, more beaches saw closures as a response to coronavirus, including Clearwater, Cocoa Beach, and Lee County.