CDC warns of surge as spring breakers ignore COVID protocols

Health officials are pleading with spring breakers to keep following precautions during their travels, warning that there could be another surge in coronavirus cases. Manuel Bojorquez has more.

Video Transcript

NORAH O'DONNELL: We're going to begin with alarming new fears about another surge of coronavirus infections here at home and a major setback for one of the vaccines being used worldwide. Tonight, the head of the CDC is pleading with Americans not to travel this spring, saying too many people are still getting infected every day here in the US. Now that stark new warning comes as more states are loosening restrictions, including California and New York, where it was just announced that wedding receptions and other catered events will be allowed again.

Now public health officials tell us they're worried that all of this is happening too fast. And they're pointing to European countries, where cases are exploding again, forcing some areas to lock down. Now as we come on the air, several countries in Europe are also suspending the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine over concerns about blood clots. So what will that mean for the vaccine here in the US?

Well, we've got a lot of new reporting tonight for you and your family. We've got our team of correspondents standing by. CBS's Manuel Bojorquez is going to lead off our coverage tonight from Miami Beach. Good evening, Manny.

MANUEL BOJORQUEZ: Good evening, Norah. The mayor of Miami Beach believes that Florida has lifted so many of its COVID restrictions that visitors here feel, wrongly, that the virus is no longer a threat. He says the city handed out 7,000 face masks on Saturday, but getting people to wear them when required is something else. Tonight, the CDC is warning Americans of another COVID surge as people travel for spring break.

ROCHELLE WALENSKY: I'm pleading with you for the sake of our nation's health. These should be warning signs for all of us. Cases climbed last spring. They climbed again in the summer. They will climb now if we stop taking precautions.

MANUEL BOJORQUEZ: More than a million travelers passed through the nation's airports on Friday, the highest number since the pandemic began. They're heading south and crowding the coast, including rowdy groups in Miami Beach.

DAN GELBER: We're really swimming upstream when it comes to trying to get people to follow safety practices.

MANUEL BOJORQUEZ: That's a concern, especially given the variants here in South Florida.

DAN GELBER: Yes. And that's the frightening thing. We don't want to become a super spreader.

MANUEL BOJORQUEZ: Florida has the most known cases of the highly contagious variants nationwide.

AILEEN MARTY: My biggest concern is that the variants overwhelm our current efforts. So let's be real about what's going on.

MANUEL BOJORQUEZ: No spring break for Duke University students. More than 6,000 are locked down on campus after fraternity parties fueled a COVID spread. The university told students, "If this feels serious, it's because it is."

Still, nationwide, more restrictions are being lifted. Los Angeles today reopening gyms and indoor dining for the first time since last summer. New York state is now allowing wedding receptions with 50% capacity.

Overseas, there are questions about whether AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine could cause fatal blood clots. At least 10 countries are suspending the shots. AstraZeneca says its drug is safe, and it's expected to file for authorization in the US this month or early next, where more people are getting vaccinated. Nearly three million shots were reported on Friday, a one-day record--

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--including Yo-Yo Ma, who gave an impromptu concert after receiving his second dose, saying he just wanted to give something back.

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And another sign of a return to normal would be reopening schools. A new study suggests that students can be safely spaced apart at three feet as opposed to six feet, provided they are wearing masks. The CDC is said to be reviewing that data. Norah?

NORAH O'DONNELL: Manny Bojorquez, thank you.