Christopher Ridgeway, founder and CEO of Stone Clinical Laboratories

Spring break is finally here… sort of. Dozens of universities around the United States have altered academic calendars in order to block students from heading to traditional hotspots like Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beach and Galveston, Texas, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged Americans not to undertake non-essential travel. 

The measures have had limited, if any, success: TSA officials reported they had screened more than 1.2 million travelers every day from March 11-14, the largest travel weekend since the pandemic shut down much of the industry last March.

In South Florida, more than 150 people were arrested that weekend for violating corona regulations, and Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber told CNN  “We’re seeing too much spring break activity. We’ve got a problem with too many people coming here, we’ve got a problem with too many people coming here to let loose.”

While it would be preferable for would-be revelers to heed CDC warnings and to opt for “staycations” closer to home, many people have chosen to hit the beach for the annual festivities. For both groups, observing some common-sense guidelines can help maintain personal health and minimize the risk of spreading coronavirus after the celebrations end.

  • Exercise: Together with proper nutrition, physical activity is perhaps the most obvious way to maintain physical and mental health while the pandemic continues to restrict movement. Aside from the benefits of burning calories and increasing endurance, daily exercise leads to a spike in endocannabinoids, the body’s system that triggers the so-called “runner’s high.” This is especially important for students who may be feeling depressed at universities that have canceled spring break in favor of ending the semester early. 
  • Get vaccinated: Vaccine rollout in the United States has been slow, but the pace is ramping up. Visit the CDC website for information about the vaccine and follow the guidelines for maximizing efficacy.
  • Get tested: Most states have appointed coronavirus task forces, with updated information available online about testing centers. Make sure to get tested a few days before you plan to travel, to allow for time for your results to arrive. Keep a copy of the test results with you and do not travel if you test positive.
  • Adjust your celebration to the current reality: It might be hard to imagine a spring break filled with bikinis, beer, and beach volleyball… and facemasks. Admittedly, it’s a tough image to swallow, but it’s important to overcome resistance to it this year. Facemasks and social distancing will minimize the risk of catching or transmitting coronavirus, and of transporting the virus to regions of the country that have seen infection rates stabilize or even drop in recent months.