CDC reports ‘effective’ contact tracing limited COVID-19 outbreak for UT students on spring break trip


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Centers for Disease Control credited effective contact tracing and cooperation between the University of Texas at Austin and a public health department for helping control a COVID-19 outbreak among UT-Austin “Spring Breakers,” according to a new report from the CDC.

In March, Austin Public Health reported a group of approximately 70 adults in their 20s left for a spring break trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico on a chartered plane. Not all of those people came back on the same flight and some took commercial airlines back.

In total, 64 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed among the students who took the Spring Break trip.

231 people were tested for COVID-19 in connection with the spring break trip to Cabo San Lucas.

Among the 231 tested, 183 were Cabo San Lucas travelers, and 48 were contacts of travelers with diagnosed COVID-19, including 13 household contacts and 35 community contacts, the CDC reports. 

In the report, the CDC concluded that a coordinated response with contact tracing and testing of all contacts, including those who are asymptomatic, is important in controlling future COVID-19 outbreaks that might occur at schools and universities as they consider reopening.

On Tuesday, Austin Public Health Interim Director Dr. Mark Escott said contact tracing isn’t doing enough in Austin-Travis County.

Escott said in many cases, contact tracing has even become ineffective locally, because some labs are taking too long to report positive cases to APH. In many cases, those labs aren’t reporting the cases in the most effective way, either.

He added that the county is trying to broaden its approach and find other ways to slow the spread.

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