Americans take spring break vacations despite experts’ concerns it will fuel virus spread

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (NewsNation Now) —There is a lot of anticipation over the reopening of Disneyland in late April. After a year of Americans mostly staying home due to the pandemic, spring break has people on the move all over the country.

Vacations are already underway for a lot of families who are desperate for amusement after a long, dark year.

The Manalo family masked up to spend the day at Downtown Disney in Anaheim.

“Even though there’s no rides or anything… to be able to go and experience all the magic is what we wanted,” Leilanie Manalo.

The rides will be back soon. Disneyland hasn’t announced an exact date yet but a reopening is projected for late next month.

Capacity will be very limited and for in-state residents only.

“I like that it’s smaller, there’s less people. I know that when they open it will be 15% but 15% means 12,500 people,” stated Leilanie Manalo.

Much smaller crowds has hotel operators weighing whether it’s worth reopening at the same time.

“Just taking it day by day. We’ll just see what happens and plan but we’re optimistically looking forward to opening by this summer at least,” explained hotel owner Bharat Patel.

In Florida, spring break has park passes already sold out at Disney World for next week. Capacity there is capped at 35% so passes are pretty much gone through next month.

At the beaches, traffic has been heavy all week in Clearwater with spring breakers continuing to pour in. 

The college crowd has also landed on the beaches of Texas and even bigger crowds are coming with many schools on spring break next week.

“We’re seeing lower numbers than previous spring break years. However, we’re happy to see a lot of families coming over and enjoying family time,” said Teresa Rodriguez from the South Padre Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

Families will be contending for beach space with the college kids. Among them, COVID-19 concerns are present but not prevalent.

“Honestly, probably not the smartest decision but nothing we can really do about it now,” said one beachgoer.

Some cited the outdoors as a key reason they felt comfortable going to the beach for spring break.

“I think it’s safe. I think everybody’s having a good time and like, we’re outside, I don’t think anybody’s too close or anything,” said a visitor.

Another added, “I wouldn’t say we’re really concerned about it right now, to be honest. I feel like it’s pretty much tamed right now.”

Health experts fear that spring break fever will fuel a new surge of COVID-19, allowing the more contagious variants to spread.

“We very well could slide back into a high percentage rate, high hospitalizations and death,” warned Ballad Health’s Jamie Swift.

In the Tri-Cities area of Tennessee, that post-vacation possibility is on the minds of many parents. 

“We still haven’t gotten everybody totally vaccinated. Or a large enough majority of people vaccinated and I don’t see a whole lot of people wearing masks,” said Jim Long.

“Your mindset now is just try to stay a distance from everybody. But the crowds, it puts a lot of stress, a lot of pressure on people to just try to stay safe,” said Lex Manlo.

Health experts suspect that more vaccinations have brought on a heightened sense of safety, but the vast majority of Americans have yet to qualify for shots.

Even the vaccinated are being warned that full protection doesn’t set in until two weeks after a second dose.

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