Seven million US college students were tracked by GPS from their cellphones, traveling during spring break before lockdowns. During the trip, several were believed to have contracted COVID-19 and, upon their return, spread the novel virus within their communities, according to a new study.
The study supports public health experts’ suspicions that spring breakers helped fuel the virus’s spread back in March when the pandemic began to spread like wildfire throughout the US.
Following spring break, countless outbreaks on college campuses were reported. There were 64 COVID-19 cases confirmed as a result of the notorious University of Texas, Austin trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. At the time, spring breakers were viewed across the nation blatantly disregarding social distancing guidelines.
The study from researchers at Ball State University and Vanderbilt University revealed how increases in coronavirus cases and deaths in the US are directly correlated with spring breakers. The researchers reportedly tracked where the 7.5 million students from 1,316 US universities traveled, along with when and how they got there.
According to the study, students were believed to have returned to their campuses after having early spring breaks before the national shut down. The students who took trips to New York City or popular locations like Miami, Florida, and traveled on flights have disproportionately added to the spread of coronavirus more than others.
The researchers concluded that the early spring breakers contributed to nearly four percent more in cases in their counties, and up to a two percent increase in deaths in the areas where their universities were located.