CHARLOTTE, N.C. — While COVID-19 metrics seem to be heading in the right direction, there's a concern that the start of spring break could lead to another surge in COVID-19 cases, especially as more states do away with mask mandates.
As huge strides are being made in the vaccination process across the Carolinas, health officials like Dr. Kavita Patel are warning people not to let their guard down on spring break.
“We still need to emphasize for people who are not vaccinated that masks matter," Patel said.
South Carolina is one of many states that have ended mask mandates or never had one, along with Florida -- a popular spring break destination that's already seeing packed crowds in beaches and pool parties.
College in the Carolinas took measures to prevent students from joining in. North Carolina State University, Winthrop University, and the University of South Carolina eliminated the weeklong break altogether -- breaking it up into one day off on five various weeks.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte gave students a weeklong break in February before students resumed in-person classes -- a move junior Dick Beekman said was for the best.
“Obviously with the COVID-19 pandemic, I would encourage students to consider staycations and not travel in the first place," Beekman said.
But after digging online, WCNC Charlotte found school districts like Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Rock Hill Schools still have spring breaks listed on their calendars. With states beginning to lower restrictions, Dr. Anthony Fauci said it’s crucial people continue safety precautions to prevent another surge
“The masking, the physical distancing and avoiding congregate settings... that’s the best weapon," Fauci said.
While touring a vaccination clinic this past week, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said we’ve come far since the first COVID-19 case was found in the state just over a year ago -- and can’t drop the ball yet.
“There is no challenge that the people of North Carolina cannot overcome," Cooper said. "We are going to overcome the challenge of this pandemic."