City of AustinFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Health Officials reinforce the message to all ages to stay home and avoid nonessential travel.
The Austin Public Health Department is investigating a cluster of positive COVID-19 cases involving a large group returning from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
About a week and a half ago, approximately 70 people in their 20’s departed in a chartered plane for a spring break trip. Some of the group returned on separate commercial flights. Currently, 28 young adults on this trip have tested positive for COVID-19 and dozens more are under public health investigation. Four of the confirmed cases did not present any symptoms.
Austin Public Health and UT Health Austin and University Health Services have made contact with every spring breaker onboard the plane using flight manifests from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The 28 confirmed cases are self-isolating at this time. Others are under quarantine while being monitored and tested. The Department of State Health Services has been notified.
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. A leisure vacation of any kind is not considered essential.
Figures show nearly half of those testing positive for COVID-19 in Austin-Travis County are between the ages of 20 and 40.
“The virus often hides in the healthy and is given to those who are at grave risk of being hospitalized or dying,“ Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said. “While younger people have less risk for complications, they are not immune from severe illness and death from COVID-19.”
While COVID-19 causes only mild illness for most people, it poses a significant danger to vulnerable populations, including older people and those who have underlying health conditions such as heart disease, immunodeficiency disease, diabetes, and lung disease. Across the United States, people aged 65 and over make up almost half (45%) of hospitalizations and 80% of deaths associated with COVID-19, according to CDC.
For people who are young and healthy, the chief public health concern is the risk that they will spread the virus to others. In Austin-Travis County, the number of people 65 and over is estimated to be 132,000 – about 10% of the population. At the same time, it is also dangerously misguided for young and healthy individuals to believe that they won’t suffer severe symptoms if infected with COVID-19 – as of March 16, 20% of all COVID-19 related hospitalizations in the United States were among those age 20-44.
This outbreak emerged well after the City of Austin and Travis County stepped up actions to protect those most susceptible to catching and being hospitalized by COVID-19. A new Austin Public Health Task Force for Nursing Homes is setting up nursing home isolation facilities to provide COVID-19 patients with a secure place to recover while keeping other nursing home residents and staff safe.
Hospitals are currently restricting visitors and family members in the facility. Make sure to write down your medical information, including height, weight, current medications, allergies, and medical history. If you have particular wishes regarding your medical care, please write those down and discuss with family members.
Austin Public Health is continuing to ask the wider community to take daily preventative actions to stop the spread of disease, including:
- Wash your hands.
- Cover sneezes and coughs with a bent elbow or tissue.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Stay home and save lives. Only go out for essential needs if you are well with no symptoms.
- If you are a caretaker, be sure to establish a plan in the event you are sick.
For more information, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.