When the COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States, spring breakers and young travelers quickly drew ire from the general public for packing Florida beaches despite the CDC’s urging for social distancing. Now, with nearly 55,000 cases of the coronavirus confirmed in the U.S., many of those spring breakers are realizing the consequences of their own hubris.
Many former spring breakers who had previously expressed indifference to the risks of contracting and spreading the coronavirus have changed their tune after many travelers, including at least six University of Tampa students, tested positive after returning from spring break.
Older members of the public quickly made 22-year old Brady Sluder the poster boy for young travelers who weren’t taking the outbreak seriously when the young man said in an interview, “If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I’m not gonna let it stop me from partying.” Now, Sluder has apologized extensively for his previous behavior, telling others “Don’t be arrogant and think you’re invincible like myself.
Sluder went on to say in another apology on Instagram that he “wasn’t aware of the severity of my actions.”
His apology led to the discussion as to whether or not young people’s blasé attitude toward the pandemic stemmed from government officials who were also not treating the pandemic as seriously as they should have.
Toronto native David Anzarouth contracted the virus while vacationing in Miami earlier this month and wound up in the emergency room only ten days after returning home. A spokesperson for Anzarouth told NBC News that, while he is doing well in recovery, he regrets going to Miami.
“There’s no one to blame. … I understand that I put myself into a place where I risked my health,” he told the CBC.
Meanwhile, a University of Pittsburgh student only identified as Molly believes that the many of the spring breakers’ indifference came from the fact that very few people had taken the threat seriously in the beginning. A national emergency wasn’t declared until March 13; by then Molly and her friends were already in Florida.
“At the time of the video, I don’t think most people were considering the gravity of a pandemic, and I think that needs to be taken into account before we shame and ridicule these people,” Molly said.
Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, refused to close the state’s beaches despite the risks, possibly reinforcing the belief that the coronavirus was not a threat to young people. Locals officials had to take it upon themselves to close the beaches off to the spring breakers and urge visitors to stay at home.
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