A mass gathering in Florida could turn into a COVID-19 super-spreader event, warned Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, on Thursday. Speaking on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, Fauci said coverage of Daytona Bike Week—a Florida motorcycle rally where 300,000 attendees are expected—gave him “chills” because of its potentially dangerous public health implications. Read on, and to stay safe, remember: You “Should Not Get” COVID Vaccine If You Have This Condition, Says CDC.
“It’s really ill-advised,” said Dr. Fauci
“I understand people want to get out and enjoy themselves and get back to what would have been normal a couple of years ago, but we really just got to hang on a bit longer,” said Fauci. “We’re really going in the right direction.” COVID cases have been declining nationwide, but health officials worry that rapidly spreading coronavirus variants could spark another surge of the disease.
Last year, the 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in North Dakota was linked to more than 260,000 COVID-19 cases. Fauci said “there’s a big possibility that’s exactly what would happen” in Daytona Beach. Viewing a news clip about the Daytona event “really just gave me chills just looking at it,” he added.
A mask mandate will be in place, but Daytona Beach officials said enforcing it will be up to local businesses, not police.
“It’s really ill-advised to do something like that, because you know as a matter of fact that people are not uniformly going to keep their masks on when they finish with the rally,” said Fauci. “They’re going to go to bars. They’re going to have fun, which is understandable. You can understand their wanting to do that, but they’re likely going to be pulling back from some of the prudent public health measures. I just hope we don’t have another surge in that area from that.”
The city considered canceling the event, but the Daytona Beach city council was “very meticulous in its decision to move forward,” Janet Kersey, the executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, told the New York Times.
Some businesses will be limited to 60 percent capacity, and CDC guidelines on mask use and physical distancing must be followed, she said.
But a Daytona Beach police spokesperson told the Times that not many masks were being worn at the event, which started on March 5 and runs through Sunday. “If I saw five masks in the crowd, that would have been too much,” he said. “It looked about like any other year.”
How to survive this pandemic
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Still Most Likely to Catch COVID.