While police officers are on their bikes patrolling along the roads in Fort Lauderdale and the city’s beach, no one can get out in the sand thanks to closures in place.
However, it wasn’t that way several weeks ago when thousands of college students were in South Florida for spring break. The “fun in the sun parties” are now being used as an example as to why shelter in place and social distancing are so important.
The party was on and while the threat of COVID-19 was growing on Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale Beach, for many the spring break tradition continued to roll on unimpeded.
Now the data firm Tectonix GEO is posting on its social media accounts a video that it says shows the cell phone activity of spring breakers on just Fort Lauderdale Beach.
“We wanted to see how social gatherings like spring break beach crowds can have on our society in the face of a global pandemic," a Tectonix GEO spokesperson said.
The heat signals show where they went after going home - Tectonix suggests it’s an example of how the virus spread through the eastern United States.
“As we zoom further out, it becomes clear just how massive the potential impact just one single beach gathering can have in spreading this virus across our nation,” the video says.
”I think that’s a brilliant way to bring home to people exactly how this works and I think it should alert them to the reality and why we are taking the public health measures that we are and we are encouraging adding additional health measures,” said Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at Florida International University.
Marty said the COVID-19 calculations are based primarily on the world wide testing of individuals that’s been done. The White House is now saying 200,000 people may end up losing their lives because of the virus and maybe more.
“We don’t want to be blind. Knowledge is power,” the former Naval Officer said. “When you understand what’s going on and you understand the hot spots, you can target those hot spots and can bring the number of cases down.”
But Dr. Marty says the models in the United States are lagging behind others because we are only testing people who come forward worried they are already sick, and not everyone who may have had contact with a carrier.
“That means testing every contact, not just testing the symptomatic person because we are not testing every contact. We are missing that leg of the transmissions and that’s why our numbers keep going up,” she said.
Dr. Marty said that an example of this is one person in the home testing positive but no one else in the house has any symptoms and they aren't tested - even though they may be carriers.