Despite COVID, Unruly Crowds Persist During Spring Break

After thousands of students disregarded coronavirus health and safety guidelines last March to attend beach parties in Mexico, Florida and Texas, many U.S. universities chose to cancel spring break this year to deter students from traveling amid the pandemic.In Miami Beach — one of the most popular spring break destinations in the United States — things did not go as planned as large crowds descended on the entertainment district, letting loose and causing mayhem as they went on a rampage.The Miami Beach Police Department tweeted that its officers were forced to use pepper balls that emit a noxious smoke “to disperse members of the crowd who were disorderly” while congregating on March 13. Miami Beach officers were surrounded, and two were injured after trying to disperse crowds over the weekend, they reported.MBPD dealing with very large crowds this evening near 8 Street and Ocean Drive. While taking a subject into custody, Officers were forced to utilize pepper balls to disperse members of the crowd who were disorderly and surrounding officers.1/2— Miami Beach Police (@MiamiBeachPD) Police officers stand guard as revelers enjoy spring break festivities in Miami Beach, Florida, March 22, 2021.Northwestern University in Illinois instructed its students to notify the administration of their travel plans during the university’s March 20-29 spring break. Many schools have instituted COVID testing for students returning to campus. Some have instituted a seven-day wellness program for returning students. The week serves as a quarantine period with the testing and activities to engage students with friends and community.Still, news footage showed scores of young people, most of whom weren’t wearing masks, dancing in the streets and leaving windshields broken after jumping on cars as police patrolled the area to get these raucous crowds under control.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta recommends people wear face masks to control the spread of the infection, which put the world in a lockdown a year ago. COVID deaths have climbed to nearly 3 million worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center and CDC.In Florida and Texas, the governors have suspended fines and penalties for coronavirus violations, including for not wearing masks. So far, Texas has had close to 47,000 deaths and Florida nearly 33,000. Those figures are second and third to California, which has seen nearly 58,000 deaths among the almost 540,000 deaths in the U.S., according to the CDC.Florida has added more than 4,000 new coronavirus cases a day over the past week, according to Johns Hopkins tallies.“We definitely want people to come and have fun,” Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola said Monday “It’s a nightlife city. We want people of all races, genders, sexual orientation. But we can’t tolerate people thinking they can come here and act out a scene from ‘Fast and the Furious,’ speeding down the streets and shooting guns in the air.”Authorities point out that students are not just perpetrators, but also victims of crime during spring break. Two tourists from North Carolina have been charged for allegedly drugging, raping and robbing a 24-year-old woman from Pennsylvania. She was found lifeless at her hotel and pronounced dead. 

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