28 University of Texas students test positive for coronavirus after Mexico spring break trip, officials say

Mark D. Wilson

AUSTIN, Texas – The University of Texas says 28 students who returned to Austin from a spring break trip to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico have tested positive for the coronavirus. Public health officials say dozens more are being monitored.

Officials said Tuesday a group of about 70 people in their 20s departed on a chartered plane about a week and a half ago. Some of the attendees flew back on commercial flights. Four of those who tested positive showed no symptoms. In addition to the 28 who tested positive, a spokesman for the university said it is believed many in the larger group were UT students.

“Austin Public Health and UT Health Austin and University Health Services have made contact with every spring breaker onboard the plane using flight manifests from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The 28 confirmed cases are self-isolating at this time. Others are under quarantine while being monitored and tested.,” Austin Public Health said.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is nearly empty Tuesday during the coronavirus pandemic.

UT spokesman J.B. Bird said the school is working closely with Austin Public Health to assist in contact tracing.

“The incident is a reminder of the vital importance of taking seriously the warnings of public health authorities on the risks of becoming infected with COVID-19 and spreading it to others,” Bird said.

In total UT says it is aware of 38 students and seven faculty who have tested positive for coronavirus, are presumed positive, or self-reported.

“Because almost all UT students have returned to their homes around Texas and the world, there may be cases where they are reporting to regional authorities but not to us,” Bird said.

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Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said COVID-19 hides in the healthy, from whom it is transmitted to vulnerable people, more susceptible to deadly complications. However, there is still risk for young, healthy people too.

“While younger people have less risk for complications, they are not immune from severe illness and death from COVID-19,” Escott said.

Nearly half of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 are between 20 and 40 years old, city and county records show.

Health officials said it was “dangerously misguided” for young and healthy people to think they won’t experience severe symptoms of COVID-19.

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