UT cancels Explore UT over coronavirus concerns

Brooke Ontiveros

The University canceled Explore UT on Friday after Mayor Steve Adler issued a declaration of a local state of disaster out of coronavirus concerns. 

University spokesperson J.B. Bird said the cancellation is an inconvenience the University deeply regrets.

“I'd recommend that for all members of our community to look at the updates we posted off the UT website on coronavirus,” Bird said. “There's information on prevention tips on the different and changing travel guidelines.”

Explore UT is an annual campuswide event hosted by UT where guests can participate in activities, watch performances and listen to talks. It is designed to inspire young students to earn a college degree, Bird said.

The event has been held for over 20 years, according to a previous Daily Texan article. One of this year’s talks, hosted by UT-Austin scientist Jason McLellan, was going to be about finding a vaccine for the coronavirus.

Explore UT brings thousands to campus, where they participate in high-touch, interactive activities for hours both indoors and out, according to an announcement of the cancellation on the UT News website.

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt signed a companion declaration of disaster to Adler’s that applies to all festival gatherings in the county where participants would be expected to be in close and sustained proximity with one another. 

The University will continue to monitor the outbreak, but sporting events and performing arts events will still be held as scheduled this weekend, according to the announcement.

Dr. Mark Escott, interim medical director and health authority for Austin Public Health, said to avoid handshakes and to fist bump or elbow bump instead to avoid transmission of the virus. He advised people to avoid public spaces such as school, work and church if they have a fever, cough or feelings of sickness.

Escott said all mass gatherings do not need to be canceled, but disease mitigation should be kept in mind.