CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla — It’s hard to stay away from the salty air, crashing waves, and sugar-like sand.
“Just being from Iowa because you obviously never get an experience like this,” said Jamin Stuhr, who is visiting with his buddies from Webb City, Iowa. “I get how people can get confused or forget about COVID when you’re here but we just try to remember it and stay safe.”
They drove more than 20 hours to get to Clearwater beach to avoid the winter. But keeping themselves and others safe has not escaped them.
“Like, people with medical conditions, because I have one myself, it’s just really important to keep everyone safe especially the more prone to getting it and getting really sick from it,” said Stuhr.
“Wearing our masks on the streets, staying safe, and just being with our own group,” said Chase Rattenborg.
Tanya Landry lives on Clearwater beach and is a woman with a plan. She likes to set up her chair towards the back of the beach.
“When the cabanas get set up — grab a cabana in the last row, have our two chairs form a perimeter, and make sure that everyone is going to be 6 feet away and everyone safe,” she said.
And with more people at the beach lately, she knows when it’s time to go.
“A little bit during the beginning of spring break here it got a little crazy, the bars got a little crazy, very busy, people without masks on, so but we tend to stay away from that,” she said.
She also says fewer people seem to be wearing their masks as they walk around outside on streets and near pier 60.
Doctors say it’s not time to be lax on the rules we’ve all followed for the last year — social distancing, staying in small groups, and wearing masks. That’s because Florida is leading the way in the number of COVID-19 variants. They say the B-1-1-7 variant now makes up about 40% of our cases and is growing at a rate of 10% per week.
“We’re close! We’re close and I think that’s what people feel too, you know, but we all got to do our part so that we can get to the end,” said Landry.
This year, Spring Break locally for Pinellas County and Hillsborough County Schools falls the week of March 15.