High school students are vacationing for spring break. Families are travelling to be with loved ones for Easter. COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted around the country. In many ways, things seem to be returning to normal.
This, however, does not mean that the pandemic over. If people who are not fully vaccinated continue to travel, outbreaks are likely to occur.
According to a study published in the Journal of Urban Economics, students returned from spring break last year and inadvertently fueled outbreaks on campus and in surrounding communities. For this reason, Albion College chose to forego this year’s spring break last month, and so did many other institutions.
Most institutions omitted spring break from their 2021 schedule, but that hasn’t stopped students from travelling to warmer climates. This creates opportunities to spread the virus.
This isn’t to say we haven’t come a long way since last year – We have. Rapid testing provides instantaneous COVID-19 results, and vaccination appointments are open to everyone 16 and older.
These things have given us a safety net with which to conduct our lives, but there are still more obvious precautions that need to be taken to limit the spread of COVID-19.
In Florida, which happens to be a popular spring break destination, many cities have ditched the mask mandate. Tourists can be seen gathered in large groups outside or in bars. Photos and videos posted to social media show these people boarding a plane and meeting with friends and eating at restaurants wherever they’ve landed – presumably without a quarantine period.
Presently, most of these tourists are college students on spring break, and it’s very unlikely that they’re fully vaccinated.
“Any time there are large groups of unvaccinated people in close contact with each other — particularly indoors — that carries the risk of significant transmission which will lead to a large number of new cases,” Dr. Scott A. Weisenberg, infectious disease specialist and medical director for NYU Langone’s Travel Medicine Program, in an interview with Healthline.
Considering that the vaccine just recently became available to those older than 16 on Monday, not to mention the weeks-long waiting period after the first dose, it’s safe to say that these young people are still risking their lives and the lives of others. Furthermore, if proper safety measures aren’t taken once they return, they could be endangering their campus and community as well.
This weekend, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated people could travel in the U.S. without getting tested. Despite this, the CDC does not recommend travel without the full dosage of the vaccine. They’re still encouraging six-feet of social distancing in public, and if travel is unavoidable, a quarantine period should still be expected.
Unfortunately, many people are choosing to vacation as normal. They travel without getting tested and return to their normal schedule once at home. Some get sick, but many do not. Those that do spread it to their friends, family and coworkers, but it was a choice that they made.
At this point in the pandemic, choosing to travel is choosing to take a risk.