10 UT-Austin custodians test positive for COVID-19

Laura Morales

Editor’s note: This story is part of The Daily Texan’s coverage of how coronavirus concerns are affecting UT-Austin. Read the rest of our coverage here.

Ten custodial staff members have tested positive with COVID-19, University spokesperson J.B. Bird said. 

According to an internal Facilities Services email to the custodial staff on May 14, the employees were working the night shift. The University is currently investigating the outbreak through contact tracing. 

This brings the total number of positive staff cases to 26 staff members. This is the first case within the facilities department, according to the Austin American-Statesman. 

“The team members have not been on campus for several days while they recover away from work,” said Sally Moore, associate director of Custodial Services, in the email. “My thoughts and well wishes are with them and their loved ones. The university’s HealthPoint Occupational Health Program (OHP) is working to identity and contact anyone who may have had close contact with any of our seven team members.”

Bird said these numbers must be considered in the context of Travis County, which has 2,537 COVID-19 cases, according to Austin Public Health. About 1,500 to 1,600 staff members still work on campus as essential workers. Bird said the University is still working on a procedure to contain these outbreaks, including contact tracing.

“We are reiterating all of the guidelines that we have,” Bird said. “These procedures are targeted toward the employees in this group and the job they are doing.” 

This is the second outbreak in the UT community, after a group of 49 students tested positive after going on a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in March. 

“We have strong guidelines in place, but there is still much unknown about the disease, about the virus,” Bird said. “All over the state and city, you continue to see small pockets of infection … This is happening in society and will happen on our campus. We are going to do all we can but this is a virus that is spreading throughout society, so we can only do our best.”