MAP: Spring breakers can now see how they helped spread coronavirus

A company called Tectonix said it anonymously tracked users' phones after they left a popular spring break beach destination.

A new map shows the potential impact that spring breakers traveling around the country may have had on the impact of the coronavirus spread.

Campus Reform has reported on a number of spring break travelers who did not initially take federal and state "social distancing" guidelines to heart, choosing instead to flood packed beaches at popular spring break destinations around the country, and even the world. As classes shifted online for the remainder of the spring semester others gathered for house parties, only to be met with police presence

Now, as experts believe the virus may be nearing its peak infection rate in the United States, a new map shows just how much those spring break trips and house parties may have contributed to the overall spread, which has resulted in thousands of deaths and trillions of dollars in lost economic activity. 

Tectonix GEO, a “data visualization platform capable of rendering the world's largest data sets at earth-shattering speed,” released a map at the end of March illustrating the ease of spread of coronavirus when social distancing is not practiced. 

[RELATED: Illinois fraternity fails social distancing test. It's now paying the price.]

In order to see the “true footprint social gatherings like Spring Break crowds” have during the time of COVID-19, Tectonix GEO created a map rendering billions of data points. This allows the researcher to see the big picture and then zoom into a specific piece of data.

The explanatory video specifically highlights Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a hotspot for spring breakers. Using data transmitted by “anonymized mobile devices,” Tectonix was able to see there was a spike in vacationers during the first two weeks of March. The tech company then utilized a “spider query” to track the movement of the devices all across the United States for the remainder of the month. 

As the map zooms out, “it becomes clear just how massive the potential impact just one single beach gathering can have spreading this virus across the nation.” 

“The data tells the stories that we just can’t see,” said Tectonix.


[RELATED: Number of Mexico spring breakers returning to Texas with coronavirus nearly doubles (UPDATED)]

The University of Wisconsin- Madison Interim Medical Director, Patrick Kelly, issued “an urgent health announcement” following spring break on April 1. He urged students to self-quarantine for fourteen days whether they are asymptomatic or symptomatic.  

The statement lists the symptoms associated with COVID-19 and tells students to self-isolate upon the onset of any of these symptoms. Kelly makes students aware of the “limited test availability” and says that they are “unlikely to be tested for COVID-19,” but to follow all guidelines from health professionals.  

“You should not report to work nor should you travel to a different location; remain at your current location,” the statement reads. 

When asked how he felt about this announcement, Evan Karabas, a junior at UW-Madison, told Campus Reform, “It’s obviously frustrating that society is almost entirely shut down and the economy has come to a screeching halt, but at the same time, we know that it’s important to make sure the virus doesn’t spread too quickly.”

“This whole situation is somewhat unprecedented in terms of the safety measures we’re taking, so we will have to see how it plays out,” Karabas added.

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