UT-Austin accounts for 23% of Travis County COVID-19 cases in the past 7 days

Amanda Figueroa-Nieves

UT accounts for 23% of Travis County coronavirus cases in the past seven days, Austin Public Health officials said during a Friday news conference. 

According to the UT COVID-19 dashboard, 112 coronavirus cases have been reported among the UT community, and 487 cases have been reported in Travis County in the past week. Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County interim health authority, said they have been observing COVID-19 clusters at UT. UT has not publicly reported any clusters since classes began Aug. 26. 

"We currently work very closely in partnership with UT to address any clusters that we may be seeing on the campus," chief epidemiologist Janet Pichette said during the press conference. 

Escott said APH has spoken with UT about stadium capacity for football games for many months. Texas Athletics Director Chris Del Conte said Aug. 16 that Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium will operate at 25% capacity, according to previous reporting by The Daily Texan. 

Escott said APH told UT the 25% capacity was still too high.

“It still represents 25,000 people coming together in one space in the middle of the biggest pandemic we’ve seen in 100 years,” Escott said. “We need to be cautious. My advice is you should think twice about going to a gathering of that size if you are vulnerable.” 

APH Director Stephanie Hayden said APH has worked with UT to set up isolation plans for students. UT students, faculty and staff who test positive for COVID-19 and cannot self-isolate can go to APH isolation facilities, according to previous reporting by The Daily Texan. 

“There is pressure amongst young people to throw away the masks, burn the masks, and to be free again,” Escott said. “We are not there yet, so we have to continue the vigilance.”