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UT Austin Says 100 People In Three West Campus Clusters Have COVID-19

A view of UT Austin's West Campus.
Julia Reihs

Three clusters of COVID-19, with a total of more than 100 cases, have been identified in West Campus, UT Austin said Wednesday night.

The individuals are currently isolated and receiving medical attention, the university said. Public health officials at UT and with Austin Public Health are conducting contact tracing to determine who was in close contact with them.

It's unclear whether the clusters in West Campus were the result of community spread. Federal and state privacy laws prohibit the university from divulging the exact location of the clusters.

The announcement comes as UT prepares to host the Longhorns' first home game at DKR Memorial Stadium this Saturday against the University of Texas at El Paso. The game is expected to draw as many as 25,000 people to the Forty Acres.

Since the start of its fall semester on Aug. 26, the university has seen 318 new cases of COVID-19. UT President Jay Hartzell told the UT community in an email ahead of the restart that new cases were inevitable and that the university would bolster its testing capability as the semester continued.

"As we carry out thousands of tests in the days to come, we will almost certainly find a larger number of COVID-19 cases and clusters than we have seen in recent weeks," Hartzell wrote Aug. 24.

Last week, the university confirmed two students in on-campus dorms tested positive for COVID-19. It said the students had contracted the coronavirus before the semester started.

UT banned off-campus events back in July, though the university has struggled to police them as the school year ramps up. Austin Public Health says it has advised students in congregate housing – like fraternities and sororities – on how to best slow the spread of COVID-19, and has been in contact with property managers of apartment complexes in West Campus, as well.

UT officials say they will lean on the City of Austin to enforce bans of social gatherings, which are limited to 10 people or fewer.

This weekend, the Longhorns host the UTEP Miners at DKR Memorial, a stadium that could hold more than 100,000 fans, but will be limited to 25% capacity under Gov. Greg Abbott's COVID-19 restrictions.

Students attending the game will be required to test negative in a rapid COVID-19 test before being admitted into the stadium.

Got a tip? Email Andrew Weber at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.

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Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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