By Mark Kaufman
March 17, 2020
While a news chopper buzzed over Clearwater Beach in Florida on Monday, a WFLA anchor commented on the crowds: “This is a packed scene here at the beaches,” he said.
As of Tuesday, the beaches near Tampa are open and buzzing with spring break activity, while the nation and world tries to contain the spread of coronavirus — a bug expected to infect 20 to 60 percent of adults globally. Some 15 percent of cases are severe, while 5 percent are critical.
Infectious disease experts, after watching the WFLA clip, emphasized that young people — who may notice no symptoms and feel ready to party — must social distance themselves if the U.S. hopes to limit the spread of coronavirus. There were over 5,700 reported U.S. cases as of 3 p.m. EST on Tuesday — but disease researchers know the true number is undoubtedly much higher…
“Even if you yourself are a healthy 20-something person, you’ll go home and transmit that infection to someone else who might not be as successful in fighting off that infection,” said Amanda Simanek, an epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Social distancing means staying six feet away from people, according to the CDC. The agency now recommends canceling all mass gatherings.
“Clearly, being on a beach with hundreds of people is going against that recommendation,” said Simanek.