Travel company that arranged spring break trip accused of downplaying coronavirus threat: report


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The travel company that organized a chartered spring break trip to Mexico last month has been accused of downplaying the severity of the coronavirus after some of the students came down with the virus, reports on Thursday said.

In an email obtained by NBC News, JusCollege, a Nevada-based company that plans all-inclusive spring break trips, told one mother that it believed that there was “no compelling reason to reconsider travel to Mexico due to the coronavirus.”

“We believe that our destinations remain among the safest and most enjoyable destinations in the world to visit right now,” the email said, according to the news organization.

It was sent on March 11, when states were already taking steps to reduce infection numbers.

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Cece Guida, 19, top, of New York City, pushes on Sam Reddick, 20, of Evansville, Ind., as spring break revelers look on during a game of chicken fight on the beach, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Pompano Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Cece Guida, 19, top, of New York City, pushes on Sam Reddick, 20, of Evansville, Ind., as spring break revelers look on during a game of chicken fight on the beach, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Pompano Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The University of Texas at Austin said on Thursday 44 of the 70 young adults who went on the trip have tested positive since their return. All of the students who tested positive were from UT Austin, although originally far more wanted to go, and some were from other schools, according to the news organization.

Karen Greenblatt, the mother who emailed the company, said she believes it was exploiting kids who might not have known any better.

“I couldn’t believe they were going to take college kids outside the country at that point,” she told NBC News. “They had ‘no compelling reason.’ I’m like, ‘Seriously … no compelling reason?'”

Other parents reportedly also expressed their worries over the trip, and it’s not clear if they will get their money back for canceling.

In an email to Greenblatt on March 19, JusCollege wrote that it was working with third-party vendors to get her a “possible refund or credit options within the next 14 days.”

The company reportedly told her two days earlier that “refunds will not be available until a later time, but we will reimburse any refunds that are provided by the airlines and hotels if and when they are processed,” according to the report.

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JusCollege did not immediately respond to an after-hours email from Fox News.

Austin health officials, as well as those with UT Health Austin and University Health Services, said on Tuesday they had been in contact with every spring breaker who was a part of the group back when the City of Austin announced 28 had tested positive and were self-isolating.

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“Others are under quarantine while being monitored and tested,” the release added.

“Due to recent COVID-19 concerns, the remaining Spring Break trips are being postponed until a later date in 2020,” JusCollege said in an automated email response. “We understand that this situation is frustrating and we’re doing our best to support you, our customer. We will send key updates via email. We thank you for your cooperation and patience during this time.”

Fox News’ Madeline Farber contributed to this report



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