COVID-19 Outbreak Among College Students After a Spring Break Trip to Mexico - Austin, Texas, March 26-April 5, 2020

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020 Jul 3;69(26):830-835. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6926e1.


On March 27, 2020, a University of Texas at Austin student with cough, sore throat, and shortness of breath had a positive test result for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). On March 28, two more symptomatic students had positive test results, alerting the COVID-19 Center at the University of Texas Health Austin (UTHA) to a potential outbreak; the center initiated an outbreak investigation the same day. UTHA conducted contact tracing, which linked the students' infections to a spring break trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, during March 14-19. Among 231 persons tested for SARS-CoV-2 in this investigation, 64 (28%) had positive test results, including 60 (33%) of 183 Cabo San Lucas travelers, one of 13 (8%) household contacts of Cabo San Lucas travelers, and three (9%) of 35 community contacts of Cabo San Lucas travelers. Approximately one fifth of persons with positive test results were asymptomatic; no persons needed hospitalization, and none died. This COVID-19 outbreak among a young, healthy population with no or mild symptoms was controlled with a coordinated public health response that included rapid contact tracing and testing of all exposed persons. 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 as schools and universities consider reopening.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexico / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Texas / epidemiology
  • Travel-Related Illness*
  • Universities
  • Young Adult