UT Gameday parties continue as Austin Public Health requests COVID-19 enforcement

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Austin Public Health requested increased enforcement of COVID-19 ordinance violations during the second University of Texas home game.

This request comes after tying clusters of infections to the first UT home game three-weeks ago.

“I feel like the stadium got closer to my house this morning,” said Zach Taylor, University of Texas Student.

The Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium didn’t get closer to Zach Taylor, but the students did near his off-campus home. Across West 22nd street Saturday, KXAN witnessed dozens of students going in and out of a string of three adjacent town homes during game time.

“This is wild to me. There has to be someone over there that has COVID. There has to be someone within a small radius that has it,” said Taylor.

Austin Public Health says the first University of Texas home football game on Sept. 12, brought multiple clusters and “a lot of lines of transmission” of COVID-19.

“Part of my job is if I don’t see students wearing a mask, then I remind them to put one on,” said Angelina Liu, who works at the university. “If they refuse in any kind of way I’m supposed to ask them to leave school buildings. On a residential street, there is not much you can do. I think the school is doing its best, but there are definitely blind spots.”

Liu says enforcement off-campus is a different story than the stringent protocols in place at the stadium.

“This is the first time I’ve seen such a large gathering of people with no consideration of the advice Austin Public Health has put out or the university. It’s shocking, and I’m a little disappointed in the student body,” said Liu.

KXAN reached out to APD and code enforcement during the party. Both said they dispatched officers out to West 22nd street. After hours of waiting, the game and party went on.

Earlier this week, Austin’s Fire Marshall told KXAN that crews would be out early Saturday enforcing COVID-19 guidelines due to the early kick-off.

“We have our same staff that we’ve always had, and again the City is not in a position to be adding a bunch of staff for enforcement on this. We are doing the best we can with the staff we have,” said Tom Vocke, Austin Fire Marshall.

Vocke says Austin Code and Austin Public Health were both out early Saturday for enforcement.

“There’s just too much area to cover right now, and too many variables for anybody to enforce all of this,” said Vocke.

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