Health officials urge Wisconsinites not to travel for spring break as COVID-19 cases rise

Virus Outbreak Holiday Travel
Posted at 5:36 PM, Mar 26, 2021

MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin students and their families are starting to head off to their spring break destinations. But with positive COVID-19 cases on the rise, health officials say now might not be the best time to take a trip.

Understandably many residents do want to take a vacation under the stress caused by the virus.

"We rented a house and we're just gonna have fun," said Jack Baretz.

Franklin High School junior Jack Baretz has been looking forward to vacationing in Flordia for spring break, after having a bit of a tough year.

"A lot of stuff is getting canceled. They cut the football season short, homecoming canceled, it'll just be nice to get outside and have fun," says Baretz.

The same goes for Arrowhead High School senior Addison Burkhart, who left for Austin Texas Friday morning to spend her spring break with family and friends.

"We have some family there, so we're just going to hang out with them, be by the pool, maybe do some shopping," said Burkhart.

But as more Wisconsin students and families prepare to take those mini-vacations, health officials are warning that traveling right now could do more harm than good.

"We don't want to take five steps back just when we're at the cusp of things getting a lot better," said Wisconsin Department of Health Services' Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk.

According to officials, Wisconsin is currently seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases, which is the highest its been since early March. To put the increase in cases into context: On March 18, Wisconsin had 571,220 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and a week later on March 25, the state had 574,436 confirmed positive cases.

MORE COVERAGE: First known case of Brazilian COVID-19 variant detected in Wisconsin

"To see this drastic of an increase in the number of cases is concerning, so we definitely want to be cognizant of that case rate," said Jefferson County Health Department epidemiologist, Samroz Jakvani.

Also in Wisconsin, 78 cases of the UK variant of COVID-19 have been identified in the state, along with two cases of the South African variant and one case of the Brazil variant. This is causing major concerns for health officials, who say travelers could bring even more of those variants back after their trip.

"You are at airports, you're around other folks who are traveling, and so you are exposing yourself to potentially more of those variants than you would be here at home," said Jakvani.

Health officials add that if you are going to travel for spring break, you should continue to follow CDC guidelines, which include spending most of your time outside as much as possible, wearing a mask and staying socially distant.

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