Yet, the aspiring SoundCloud rapper suggested that enjoying spring break and going against a nationwide call for social distancing was worth the public health risk.
“If I get corona, I get corona,” a shirtless Sluder told Reuters. “At the end of the day, I’m not going to let it stop me from partying. … We’ve been waiting for Miami spring break for a while.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by other spring breakers who descended upon South Florida in search of a good time amid a global crisis with more than 218,000 confirmed cases and nearly 8,800 deaths worldwide. Their spring break-over-safety perspective, captured in interviews by Reuters and shared by CBS News in a video on Wednesday, sparked outrage from those practicing social distancing to help “flatten the curve” of a pandemic that has halted everyday life.
“I support a quarantine of Miami spring breakers,” tweeted political scientist Ian Bremmer, the president of the Eurasia Group.
The video, which had more than 14 million views as of early Thursday, encapsulates the struggle that some cities have faced in efforts to get partyers and young people to take the pandemic seriously.
More than a dozen states and the District have already ordered bars and restaurants to close because of covid-19, The Washington Post’s Meagan Flynn reported. But in recent days, videos and images from late-night and St. Patrick’s Day spots in New Orleans, Nashville and Chicago showed many rebuffing the federal health guidelines recommended to help ease the exposure risk, especially to older people, as well as the burden on hospitals handling more and more cases of coronavirus. A video of a busy day at Clearwater Beach, Fla., showed many beachgoers sprawled out in the sand and more in the water.
Even with 327 confirmed cases of coronavirus and seven deaths in Florida, Brianna Leeder said the actions taken to shut down the bars during the popular vacation time were too extreme.
“It’s really messing up with my spring break,” the 21-year-old from Wisconsin told Reuters. “What is there to do here other than go to the bars or the beach? And they’re closing all of it.” She added, “I think they’re blowing it way out of proportion. I think it’s doing way too much.”
Atlantis Walker downplayed the magnitude of coronavirus, and suggested addressing hunger and poverty deserved more attention than the pandemic.
“What they’re doing is bad, we need a refund,” Walker, a 21-year-old from Indiana, told Reuters. “This virus ain’t that serious.”
Other college students said that while the decision to shut down the bars was “disappointing,” they were attempting to make the most of it by “trying to get drunk before everything closes.”
“We’re just trying to roll with it,” said Bryson Taylor of Ohio. “We’re just living for the moment. … When stuff closes, we’re going to do it when it closes. But besides that, we’re just trying to have the best trip we can.”
On social media, many criticized the spring breakers for their reckless perspective on a pandemic that’s upended the world, including the United States. As The Washington Post’s Philip Bump reported, although younger Americans aren’t likely to die if they contract coronavirus, a quarter of those at risk of being infected are under the age of 60 and younger people can spread the virus without knowing it.
“Will someone please update us on how their grandparents are doing in three months?” tweeted business consultant Alex Leo.
Still, Sluder, in between puffs of hookah in Miami this week, said the trip was all in good fun.
“Whatever happens, happens,” Sluder said.