The University of Texas at Austin is now aware of over 200 UT students who traveled to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico for spring break, despite travel warnings during the COVID-19 pandemic – 49 of whom have now tested positive for the novel coronavirus that causes the disease.
Of the 211 UT students that traveled to Cabo between March 14-19, 178 students arranged their trips through collegiate travel company JusCollege, according to an April 3 announcement from the university. The number of confirmed cases among those students has climbed since Austin Public Health first confirmed 28 travelers tested positive for the virus on March 31. Health officials have directed the travelers – whether they themselves tested positive or not – to self-isolate according to public health protocols. The report acknowledged the number of confirmed cases may still rise in the coming days, though most of the UT students on the trip have been tested.
Students from other universities also took JusCollege trips to Cabo and nearby resorts, and UT urged the Las Vegas-based vendor to reach out to those other schools “to ensure the level of contact tracing and outreach necessary to support the health of the participants and the communities they returned to.” At the time of the trip, Mexico was not under a federal travel advisory (nonessential travel across the U.S.-Mexico border was restricted on March 20); however, in the days leading up to spring break, UT said it “strongly urged” students to take extra precaution when traveling abroad.[image-1-right]
“This incident is an urgent reminder of the responsibilities students have to their communities, each other and themselves,” said Soncia Reagins-Lilly, the university’s vice president for student affairs and dean of students, in the announcement. “We are deeply concerned for the health of the students affected and for their broader impact on the communities where they live.”
The UT cluster is a reminder of a fact stressed by public health officials around the world: Though younger people are at less risk of complications from COVID-19, they still face severe illness or death if infected. Over half of those testing positive for COVID-19 in Austin-Travis County are between the ages of 20-40, with the 20-29 age range accounting for the highest number of confirmed cases, according to city data. Moreover, the risk remains that people who are young and healthy are still transmitting the virus to others even when they’re asymptomatic.
As of April 7, there have been 554 confirmed cases in Travis County and 7 deaths.
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