- Wikimedia Commons / Matthew T. Rader
- People park on the beach in South Padre Island, pre-COVID.
Multiple media reports documented maskless and tight-packed crowds at Texas’ South Padre Island last week, following Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s decision to lift the statewide mask mandate and capacity restrictions.
Many Texan school districts — including the majority of San Antonio’s — held their spring breaks last week, and more across the country will hold the weeklong reprieve through this Friday.
Abbott's decision to rescind statewide pandemic protocols shortly before spring break has medical experts worried about a surge in cases in the coming weeks. Especially as revelers let down their guards.
"The beach is coming back to life, the town coming back to life, we're having some fun out here, restrictions are so crazy you know everybody just kind of relaxed,” one South Padre Islander told News 4 San Antonio.
The partying at SPI and other locations comes as health experts warn that despite rising vaccination rates, case numbers aren't yet under control, CNN reports. Beyond that, a potentially more deadly U.K. variant is poised to become the dominant strain in the United States by early April.
"We have seen footage of people enjoying spring break festivities, maskless," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Monday, according to the CNN report. "This is all in the context of still 50,000 cases per day."
Beyond the implication for possible COVID-19 spikes in places that played host to spring break revelers, students who partied their break away could end up bringing infections back to their campuses, as evidenced by some colleges' decisions to cancel their breaks this year as a precaution.
Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.