Austin Public Health outlines more COVID-19 guidance to UT ahead of upcoming football game

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — There are new COVID-19 recommendations from Austin Public Health to the University of Texas ahead of Saturday’s football game against Texas Christian University.

This guidance comes after APH leaders said the first UT home football game on Sept. 12 brought multiple clusters and “a lot of lines of transmission” of COVID-19.

Ryan Hess didn’t make it to UT’s first home game, because he was quarantining for 14 days after being exposed to another student with COVID-19. As a Big Ticket holder with a negative COVID-19 test, Hess will now be among almost 18,000 fans inside Memorial Stadium this Saturday.

“I’m not super concerned, because I know everyone has been tested, but there is that element where people could not do the right thing, like be in big groups without masks,” Hess said.

Big groups and no masks were part of Friday’s conversation among APH leaders, who meet with UT officials every Friday. APH says its staff saw a high level of compliance at the beginning of the first home game, but that it went down as the game went on.

Now the agency is recommending:

  • Increased enforcement of social distancing and mask wearing
  • A continuous wipe down of shared surfaces, like credit card readers and handrails

“There have been some indications that there were some clusters associated with University of Texas-UTEP game and more importantly,  there have been a lot of  lines of transmission that have been associated not just with the game itself, but with those social gatherings that have been associated.  So people who are gathering to watch the game in some settings are actually transmitting disease to each other,” said APH’s Chief Epidemiologist Janet Pichette.

According to a 311 breakdown of COVID-19 complaints around the university campus area the day of the game, there were a total of five gatherings and over-occupancy concerns.

Moving forward, students like Hess are focused on enjoying the football season while staying safe.

“I’ve been dying to go since coming to school, so having the opportunity to go to the game with restrictions is awesome,” Hess said.

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