TAMPA, Fla. — Public health officials are warning Floridians to not let their guard down when it comes to COVID-19 precautions this Labor Day weekend.
They say after the past three major holidays, Memorial Day, July 4 and Mother's Day, the state of Florida saw spikes in COVID-19 cases in the weeks that followed.
"We don't want to see a repeat of the surges that we have seen following of the holiday weekends," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert.
Fauci said it's critical we go into the next few months set up for success.
"We don't want to see a surge under any circumstances, but particularly as we go on the other side of Labor Day and enter into the fall, we want to go into that with a running start in the right direction," he said. "We don't want to go into that with another surge that we have to turn around again."
In the meantime, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman offered his own warning on Twitter about Labor Day parties.
Making plans for Labor Day weekend? Avoid indoor get-togethers and huddling up with friends. Make outdoor plans (and stay cool and hydrated). Let's not erase our progress. 2.5% positive in today's county data. 3.1% rolling avg. past 2 weeks. These low numbers aren't by accident.— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) September 1, 2020
This comes as Tampa, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale are all listed among TripIt's top 25 Labor Day travel destinations. This is also despite that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the Sunshine State as having the second-highest total number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
Epidemiologists with the University of Washington are also warning about family gatherings this holiday weekend, where they say there is a high likelihood of transmission.
However, if you must gather this holiday, there are a few things you can do, according to Ali Mokdad, PhD, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Mokdad told CNN Health that social distancing and mask-wearing is key when you are around others who are not in your immediate circle.
He and other experts also say if you are planning to gather with extended family and friends this holiday weekend, first get a test for COVID-19 to make sure you are negative. They also recommend gathering with other families or family members outdoors, not indoors, where it's easier for the virus to spread.
Mokdad also recommends wearing masks at all times when not eating and keep family units separated by at least six feet or more. Experts also said families should each bring their own food. If food is shared, separate it in advance into small containers for individual servings, doctors recommend.