NEW ORLEANS — The Florida Panhandle has always been a top destination to visit for families from the New Orleans area.
Carrie Booher from Uptown and her family were planning to vacation in Fort Walton Beach in two weeks.
It’s something they enjoy doing, but not this year.
“If we’re going to go to a shared condo building, even walking down the hallway can be a risk at this point,” Booher said.
Friday morning, Booher canceled her family vacation amid reports of spiking Coronavirus cases in Florida.
New COVID-19 cases are now averaging more than 11,000 per day in the Sunshine State.
The rate of patients testing positive for the virus is hovering around sixteen percent.
That’s compared to about ten percent in Louisiana.
Booher says a trip to the beach is not worth the risk to her two small children.
“I would love to take them to the beach,” she said. “They love going there and they love the Florida Panhandle. But we may need to find something a little closer to home this year.”
Others aren’t letting the virus affect their travel plans.
Michael -- @rollcall79 wrote on Twitter, “My parents both live in Florida, are 75 plus and have stayed safe. As far as the numbers are concerned, I have trouble believing anything these days.”
Charlie Schwartz told us, “Only worry is not having enough money.”
Louisiana Assistant State Health Officer Dr. Joe Kanter said there is no directive to avoid Florida, but he would be very cautious.
“In general, when there’s this much COVID anywhere you are and that goes for in Louisiana now as well as Florida, the safest advice is to stay home and limit the number of people you come into contact with outside the family unit,” Kanter said.
Dr. Kanter talked about what may be driving the high numbers in Florida.
“It’s the mass of people without distancing and it’s the lack of mask wearing.”
Don Redman from AAA tells travelers to plan their Florida vacation in advance and confirm the reservations because things may have changed at the hotel or condo you booked.
“We just strongly encourage you to know the conditions that you’ll be (staying in), be aware of your own health conditions as well,” Redman said.
Right now, there is no statewide mask mandate in Florida.
“I’m worried about Coronavirus in general, but I’m also really worried to go to Florida,” Booher said.
WWL-TV reached out to visitor bureaus across the Florida Panhandle.
None of them provided a comment for this story.
Some new restrictions are now in place in south Florida, a Coronavirus hot spot in the state.
If you’re caught not wearing a mask or not practicing social distancing in Miami-Dade County, you could be fined up to $100 for individuals and up to $500 for a business.
Beginning Friday night, there is an 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in neighboring Broward county.