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Additional students from the University of Texas who thwarted advice from public health officials to stay home and social distance, taking a spring break trip to Mexico instead, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
At least 44 of the 70 students who chartered a plane to Cabo San Lucas about a week and a half ago have now tested positive, a spokesperson for the City of Austin confirmed to Fox News on Friday. Earlier this week, some 28 of the students were positive.
“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,” a University of Texas spokesperson said in a statement to local news station KXAN.
Austin health officials, as well as those with UT Health Austin and University Health Services, have been in contact with every spring breaker who was a part of the group, some of whom took commercial flights back home, officials said when first announcing the news on Tuesday.
The initial 28 students who tested positive are self-isolating, while others “are under quarantine while being monitored and tested,” they said at the time. Overall, dozens of the students are under public health investigation following the trip. At least four of the confirmed cases were asymptomatic.
“While Mexico at the time of their travel was not under a federal travel advisory, Austin-Travis County residents should follow CDC’s travel recommendations indicating travelers avoid all non-essential international travel,” officials warned, adding, “A leisure vacation of any kind is not considered essential.”
Almost half of all the positive COVID-19 cases in the Austin-Travis County area have occurred in those between the ages of 20 and 40, according to county data.
Health experts have continued to stress that everyone is at risk for contracting the novel virus — including children and young adults. Minors in major cities, including hard-hit New York City and Los Angeles, have died as a result of the coronavirus. And while epidemiologists and infectious disease experts still broadly assume that young people generally experience relatively benign cases of coronavirus than older people, youth are often the silent and potentially lethal transmitters of the virus — hence why social-distancing measures should be taken seriously, especially by the young, experts say.
In a statement on Wednesday, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott reminded residents of the importance of staying home and adhering to social distancing guidelines.
“The health of the public is in the hands of the community,” Escott said. “It is important to understand that young people are not immune from serious illness. We implore the community to stay at home even if you are not feeling ill, and before leaving your house ask yourself ‘Is this trip necessary?’ It is the entire community’s responsibility to stop the spread, including our young adults and teens.”
A spokesperson for Austin Public Health did not immediately return Fox News’s request for additional comment on Friday.