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COVID-19: Miami Beach imposes 8 p.m. curfew amid spring break

David Whitnah of Lake St. Louis, Missouri receives his first vaccination shot in his car at the Family Arena during a mass vaccination drive-in event in St. Charles, Missouri Thursday. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
David Whitnah of Lake St. Louis, Missouri receives his first vaccination shot in his car at the Family Arena during a mass vaccination drive-in event in St. Charles, Missouri Thursday. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

March 20 (UPI) -- The city of Miami Beach declared a state of emergency Saturday over concern about spring break crowds spreading COVID-19 Saturday and the Idaho legislature moved to a recess due to an outbreak among lawmakers.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber announced an 8 p.m. curfew for the South Beach entertainment district during a Saturday-afternoon news conference and said shore-bound traffic on the city's causeways would be shuttered.

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Both measures will be in effect for at least 72 hours, but officials may extend the state of emergency.

"As we hit the peak of the peak of spring break, we are quite simply overwhelmed," City Manager Raul Aguila said, who also said that on Friday night "you couldn't see pavement and you couldn't see grass" due to crowding in the area.

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On Friday the Clevelander South Beach hotel in Miami Beach announced that it will temporarily halt food and beverage operations due to safety concerns until at least March 24.

Earlier this week Gelber told CNN there are too many people visiting the city.

"We have too many people that want to just let loose in ways that are unacceptable," Gelber said.

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Also Friday, the Idaho House and Senate moved to recess due to a coronavirus outbreak in the legislature.

House legislative leaders canceled all committee meetings Friday after two House members tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday.

Six total members of the state legislature have tested positive in the past week, and House Speaker Scott Bedke said at least one staffer has tested positive for the virus.

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"When you apply the contact tracing to the six and the staff that is out, we're going to err on the side of caution here," Bedke said at a press conference Friday. "I'm not all that surprised. We knew it was a big possibility, and we planned for it as best we could."Masks were not mandated at the Capitol and many state legislators have not worn them or kept their distance from others.

Bedke said he has no regrets about the way he observed safety protocols during this session.

"I would never tell my peers what to do with their lives," Bedke said. "We all could've been a little more careful. I'm not saying that we did everything perfectly, but we did it pretty well."

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As of Saturday, the United States had recorded 29.8 million COVID-19 cases and 541,659 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker.

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On Friday there were 61,627 new cases recorded and 1,517 new deaths, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

The CDC's seven-day moving average -- the average number of new cases recorded this past week -- was 53,248 cases and 1,069 deaths.

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Both averages are up from two weeks ago, when the seven-day average of new cases was 41,683 and the average of new deaths was 864.

While cases have trended downward from a mid-January peak, experts worry about new, more contagious variants of the virus -- and the possibility more variants could emerge.

The available evidence suggests vaccines provide some protection against the variants and are particularly effective at reducing the rate of hospitalization and death due to variant cases.

According to the CDC, nearly a quarter of the U.S. population -- 23.9%, or 79.4 million people -- have received at least one dose of one of the available COVID-19 vaccines.

Some 43 million people -- or 13% -- have been fully vaccinated against the virus.

More than two-thirds -- 68% -- of Americans over 65 have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 40.8% of American seniors are fully vaccinated.

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