Despite Florida Governor Ron DeSantis‘s order on Tuesday limiting beach parties to just 10 people or fewer, spring breakers all along Florida’s coasts and beaches aren’t heeding the warning, and now the issue is starting to gain national attention. Not the kind DeSantis would like, either.
In years past, national news media has always done its fair share of stories covering Florida’s spring breakers and their antics. That’s also true this year, but now those same stories are set against the backdrop of a highly contagious, worldwide pandemic. Images of intoxicated college students whining about their vacation plans being “ruined” because of coronavirus aren’t quite getting the sympathy many of them thought. And now, there is new evidence suggesting college students may make up nearly a third of all coronavirus cases.
But it’s DeSantis, not the spring breakers, who faces the most potential backlash. As leaders in other states could start to question why Florida isn’t doing its part to curb the spread of the virus, DeSantis could become the focal point for blame when students return to their hometowns and infections there begin to spike as a result.
A CBS News video that went viral today illustrates the problem for DeSantis perfectly:
“If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I’m not gonna let it stop me from partying”: Spring breakers are still flocking to Miami, despite coronavirus warnings. https://t.co/RTwqZrxqae pic.twitter.com/rfPfea1LrC
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 19, 2020
The social media reaction was instant and nasty, blasting the college students for partying instead of thinking about the well-being of others who might be susceptible to the virus, or for ignoring the fact that millions of more responsible Americans are staying home and sacrificing to try to slow the infection rate.
A petition started this afternoon after the video went viral asking President Donald Trump, DeSantis, and other governors in coastal states to shut down the beaches and send spring breakers home early. One of the petitions can be viewed here.
Meanwhile, local governments have decided they’ve had enough, taking matters into their own hands and closing their local beaches.
Starting tonight, officials will close beaches at Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale, the historical epicenter for spring break beach parties. Beaches in Tampa and Naples, Florida, will also close until at least March 30th, officials said.