AUSTIN, Texas - The University of Texas at Austin says the number of students who have tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling to Cabo San Lucas for Spring Break has risen.
Two weeks ago, the Austin Public Health Department began an investigation after a cluster of positive COVID-19 cases formed after a group of young travelers returned from a spring break vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Approximately 70 people in their 20’s departed in a chartered plane for a spring break trip, amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to APH.
As of April 3, 49 students has tested positive, says UT Austin. Most of the students were on a trip organized by travel vendor JusCollege, which included students from other colleges and universities.
“This incident is an urgent reminder of the responsibilities students have to their communities, each other and themselves,” said Soncia Reagins-Lilly, UT Austin vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “We are deeply concerned for the health of the students affected and for their broader impact on the communities where they live.”
The university says a total of 211 students traveled to Cabo San Lucas from March 14-19, which includes 178 on the JusCollege trip and 33 who made independent arrangements. UT Austin says that while the total may still rise, "it is thought that any further additions will be minimal, due to the low number of people potentially remaining to be tested from the UT Austin cluster."
"For people with positive tests, health officials directed self-isolation for a minimum of seven days from symptom onset and at least two days past the resolution of symptoms," says UT Austin. "People who were asymptomatic and had a negative test result were directed to self-quarantine for 14 days from last exposure, following established public health protocols."
The university says it is not aware of the total number of students from other universities who attended JusCollege trips to Mexico and urges the company to reach out to the other universities.
UT Austin says Mexico was not under a federal travel advisory at the time of the trip and as spring break approached, the university strongly urged students, especially those traveling abroad, to take extra caution.
After the initial announcement of positive tests from students on the Cabo trip earlier this week, the university says some have speculated online about the identity of those on the trip. Reagins-Lilly noted there is no indication the trip was connected to any particular student organizations, and that people should be wary of spreading misinformation based on rumors.
“As we enter a new reality of working together remotely, relying on online tools, it’s vital that we show respect for one another,” said Reagins-Lilly. “We should resist the temptation to single out members of our community. COVID-19 is affecting all elements of our society, and fighting it depends on our abilities to unite as a community.”
The university urges all members of its community who have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 to be screened for testing. Students can call the UHS Nurse Advice Line at 512-475-6877. Others can call UT Health Austin at 833-882-2737; call their physician, who can register them to be tested with Austin Public Health; call CommUnityCare at 512-978-8775; or access telehealth services.
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