UT Austin says a total of 44 students have tested positive for COVID-19 after chartering a flight to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico over spring break.
The university and Austin Public Health initially said 28 students had tested positive for the disease caused by the new coronavirus on Tuesday. Officials say the group flew out on the chartered plane collectively but took separate flights back.
UT and APH are currently tracing contacts of those who were on the trip, and some exposed travelers are under investigation by the public health authority. Those who have tested positive are self-isolating, and four people had no symptoms, APH said.
According to KVUE, the travelers chartered the flight through JusCollege, leaving March 14 and returning March 19. The company reportedly refused to give refunds on the prepaid trip – and suggested it was safe to travel to Mexico amid COVID-19 concerns in the lead-up to March 14.
Just over half of positive cases in the Austin area are of people between the ages of 20 and 40, per Austin Public Health's calculation. Roughly 10% of the population in Austin is over 65 and is more susceptible to the respiratory illness caused by COVID-19.
But health officials said Tuesday it's "dangerously misguided for young and healthy individuals to believe that they won't suffer severe symptoms" of COVID-19, and Thursday Austin Public Health reported a person in their 20s was in critical condition in a local hospital.