60 of 180 UT spring breakers wound up with COVID-19, CDC says

AUSTIN, Texas -- A new report from the CDC shows contact tracing, including people who are asymptomatic, is vital in controlling future COVID-19 outbreaks, and the agency used a spring break trip to Mexico as an example.

Sixty spring breakers from the University of Texas who traveled to the resort city of Cabo San Lucas tested positive for the virus after returning to Austin in March 2020, the CDC said.

"Prompt epidemiologic investigation, with effective contact tracing and cooperation between a university and a public health department, contributed to outbreak control," the report stated.

An investigation by Austin Public Health and the University of Texas Health Austin was launched on March 28, the same day two students tested positive. Staff interviewed 289 people who either traveled to Cabo, people who lived with a traveler, or people who had close contact with someone who traveled. One-fifth of those who tested positive did not have any symptoms, the report said.

RELATED: Spring breakers test positive for COVID-19 after Mexico trip

While around 70 students in their 20s took a chartered plane to Cabo, a total of 183 students from UT made the trip. The virus later spread to four others back at home, according to the report.

Mexico, at the time of the group's trip, was not under a federal travel advisory.

Many of the travelers to Mexico told health officials they had lengthy contact to others because they shared hotel rooms while on the trip or shared living spaces back in the United States. Health officials believe several moves early on helped keep the outbreak from getting worse, including rapid contact tracing, extending UT-Austin's spring break, and the city's shelter-in-place order that took effect on March 25.

Wednesday's report takes note of plans for colleges to reopen campuses in the fall.

"Contact tracing and testing of close contacts, regardless of symptoms, is important in limiting spread, especially in young and healthy populations living in shared housing and in controlling future COVID-19 outbreaks that might occur as schools and universities consider reopening," the report stated.

RELATED:UT in Austin reopening in the fall, but things may be different

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