A group of about 70 young adults travelled together on a chartered plane to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico about a week and a half ago, the Austin Public Health Department said in a statement. Upon their return, 28 students have tested positive for COVID-19 while “dozens more are under public health investigation.” City officials said four of the confirmed cases showed no symptoms and that they have launched an investigation into the the entire cluster.
UT Austin said all 28 who tested positive are students at the school, but could not confirm whether he entire group was students. The city and university contacted every spring breaker who went on the chartered plane after receiving the flight manifest from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are closely monitoring them. UT Austin, which has moved classes online amid the pandemic, told NBC News in a statement that the incident is a “reminder of the vital importance” of heeding public health warnings.
Those in the cluster with confirmed cases are self-isolating, while many others are being tested and are under quarantine, the city said. Mexico was not under a federal travel advisory when the spring breakers left, but the city said residents should follow CDC guidelines that make clear people should only travel for “essential purposes.”
“A leisure vacation of any kind is not considered essential,” the city said.
The news comes as spring breakers have faced intense backlash for continuing to vacation despite the pandemic, and Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis has been criticized for allowing spring break to continue by failing to close the sunshine state’s beaches.
Texas has 3,403 reported cases of coronavirus, including 54 deaths, as of Tuesday.