About 70 students from the University of Texas at Austin, all over 20 years old, chartered a plane to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in late March. They took the trip despite public health advice to avoid overcrowding and unnecessary air travel.
Austin public health officials announced on Tuesday that 28 students, more than a third of the young people taking the trip, had returned and tested positive for the coronavirus. According to official figures, many of the remaining students are under public health surveillance.
For officials who have repeatedly told people to stay home, the news was frustrating.
“Stop being an a,” said Dennis Bonnen (R), Texas House spokesman told KXAN. “Overcome yourself. Whether you think this is a problem or not, it is. Believe it or not, it does. The reality is, when I’m a college kid going to spring break in Mexico, you are affected by a lot of people. Grow up.”
Despite earlier reports that the corona virus would largely spare the boys, dozens of spring breakers have returned to and tested positive for their university cities in places like Texas, Florida, and Wisconsin.
At least five students from the University of Tampa who went on a spring vacation together checked Positive for the corona virus last month after Florida officials scrutinized their decision to keep beaches and bars open while the spring breakers flocked to the state.
At the University of Wisconsin in Madison, several students tested positive after developing symptoms since returning from spring vacation in Nashville and Gulf Shores, Ala., WKRG reported.
“When I get corona, I get corona,” was the unofficial cry from the assembly of thousands of young adults who viewed the government’s guidelines on social distancing as a draconian overreaction to the coronavirus pandemic, which on March 1 nationwide fell from fewer than 100 cases to more than 100, 180,000 exploded by the end of the month.
“Life is precious,” wrote Brady Sluder, the Ohio spring breaker, who said he would not be stopped by a global pandemic from celebrating. “Don’t be arrogant and think you’re invincible like me.”
Although most serious cases of Covid-19 occur in the elderly and people with underlying health conditions, young and otherwise healthy adults have also been hospitalized with the coronavirus.
In Travis County, Texas, the home of UT-Austin, nearly half of coronavirus hospitalizations affected people between the ages of 20 and 40.
Young people have caused a significant number of coronavirus hospitalizations nationwide. While deaths focus on older adults, some districts have reported deaths among young people and even children.
The 28 Texas students who tested positive are self-isolating, and others who have traveled are monitored for symptoms by public health officials. Four of the coronavirus-infected patients showed no symptoms, public health officials in Austin said.
“The virus is often hidden in healthy ones and is passed on to those at high risk of being hospitalized or dying,” said Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County’s Interim Health Authority Director, in a statement. “While younger people are at less risk of complications, they are not immune to serious diseases and death from Covid-19.”
Even more worrying for many officials is the risk to older Americans from infected young people who may not have severe symptoms.
“They come back and may not have the disease themselves, but they could pass it on to their grandmother, grandfather, and favorite aunt,” said Bonnen. “And that’s the danger of Covid-19. While many of us can act responsibly, while many of us can stay at home while many of us can distance ourselves socially, only 70 college children are required to act irresponsibly. It’s time to grow up. ”