When the University of Texas at Austin hosted its first home football game of the season, administrators required student attendees to be tested for COVID-19 before entering the Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
Of the 1,198 students who were tested that day, 95 returned positive results, according to a university spokesperson. But none of these cases were logged on the Austin-Travis County COVID-19 dashboard or counted toward official totals.
Because the tests used at the game were rapid antigen tests. Like the genetic, or polymerase chain reaction, tests offered by Austin Public Health and other providers, these tests detect active COVID infections. They also provide results in 15 minutes, bypassing the need for processing at clinical labs, which can lead to wait times of up to two weeks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that positive rapid antigen test results be considered "probable" rather than "confirmed" because they are marginally less sensitive than genetic tests.
As a result, the Texas Department of State Health Services and Austin Public Health do not count positive rapid antigen test results toward their official "confirmed" caseload or consider them when calculating the local positivity rate.
Austin Public Health did not respond to multiple inquiries about how many rapid antigen tests have been conducted locally. Austonia has filed a public records request for more information.
State data indicates that rapid antigen tests make up a small portion of the tests administered in Texas.
DSHS began reporting the number of antigen tests administered on Aug. 6; since then, just over 71,000 tests have been conducted. In that same time period, DSHS reports around 1.7 million genetic tests and more than 128,000 antibody, or serology, tests have been administered.
Some private testing sites, however, only offer rapid antigen tests or report more demand for them compared to other kinds of tests because of the convenience they offer.
Tarrytown Pharmacy has offered rapid antigen tests since mid-July, Pharmacist-In-Charge Rannon Ching said, and demand has remained steady, despite the deflated surge.
UT students whose parents were concerned about case clusters on campus have sought out testing, as have Austinites who want assurance they can see parents and grandparents for the first time since the pandemic and aren't putting them at risk, Ching said. The local business, which has two locations, has also coordinated with companies and restaurants that seek testing for their employees.
"I would say demand is up," Ching said.
Other private testing sites have seen similar trends.
At Total Men's Primary Care, which has 16 locations in and around Austin, demand for genetic tests is down because of the long turnaround times, CEO Robert Sek told Austonia last month.
Similarly, Texas MedClinic COO David Gude has said rapid antigen tests are the clear favorite among patients at its 19 Central Texas locations. Genetic test results, which may be required for patients traveling abroad or awaiting surgery, tend only to be requested when an agency or entity is requiring them, he added.
This summer, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott floated the idea of offering rapid antigen tests at public testing sites.
At the time, slow turnaround times for genetic tests were interfering with containment efforts. Residents were waiting up to two weeks to get results at the height of the local surge; by the time they learned they were positive, some had already recovered—and missed the chance to avoid infecting others.
"It's not quite as accurate as the regular (genetic) testing that we send off to labs, but it's probably good enough," he told Travis County Commissioners on July 28. "So we can get a whole lot better control over this for future outbreaks than sending off tests that are going to take three or four or 10 days."
APH has not added rapid antigen tests to its repertoire in the time since.
But Escott has hinted at the possibility of more rapid antigen testing data in the short term.
"I expect that we may see some changes in how the state and federal government want to treat those cases (indicated by rapid antigen test results)," he said during a press conference on Sept. 18. "But for now, we're looking at options to display both the probable and the confirmed (cases)."
More on COVID:
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- Austin Public Health considers offering rapid COVID testing - austonia ›
- Texas recently began reporting the number of rapid antigen tests ... ›
- Popular rapid COVID-19 tests don't count in Austin, Texas case ... ›
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So you want to buy a house?
To anyone trying to get on the "housing ladder," it's been a discouraging couple of years as prices skyrocketed in a market crowded with buyers bidding against each other for just about any available home.
Things may be calming down, with the Austin Board of REALTORS reporting fewer sales and more available homes this summer.
Mortgage rates have more than doubled in the last year, from around 3% to well over 6% on a 30-year fixed rate loan, getting even more of a bump this week after the Federal Reserve raised bank rates on Wednesday.
So how affordable are homes right now? That, of course, depends on what you want and how much you're able or willing to pay, but here are some rough estimates of what a typical buyer would pay to buy a $650,000 home, which would be considered "mid-price" in today's market.
Mortgage banker Chris Holland (NMLS 211033) of Austin's Sente Mortgage ran some numbers for Austonia to illustrate a typical purchase.
Holland says that while the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is often mentioned in the media, the most popular loan that he's seeing now is a 7/1 adjustable rate mortgage, which has a fixed rate for 7 years and then adjusts every year based on market rates, with a limit on how much it can increase each year. The interest is amortized over a 30-year period. Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) offer lower rates than fixed rate loans.
Here are the numbers, which are examples. In practice, exact numbers vary with a buyer's credit rating and overall financial situation, and with the rate, which can move up or down at any time.
- $650,000 home purchase price
- 7/1 ARM at 5.875%
- 5% down payment, equals $32,500
- 95% financed, equals $617,500
- $4,990 payment, including principle and interest (P&I), insurance, and property tax
- Typically, a borrower's debt to income ratio needs to be at or below 45%. So for this mortgage, a borrower, or borrowers, would need income of roughly $11,100/month, or $133,200/year. That number could be higher, depending on the buyer's outstanding credit balances on things like credit cards and car loans.
Holland says he's had a lot of clients approved for loans who were house hunting but have put that on hold, hoping prices come down.
Camp Fimfo Waco, a brand new camping resort, is kicking off football and fall camping season in style! With top-notch amenities, premium accommodations, and 10 weekends of fall fun, there’s no better place to have a fall camping getaway, especially if you’re a Baylor football fan!
Fall promises to be a one-of-a-kind camping experience. From Sept. 16 to Nov. 24, weekends will be packed with fall-themed activities, including special Halloween weekends in October. Campers can enjoy activities like fall crafts, campground trick-or-treating, costume contests, site decorating, outdoor movie nights, and more!
Packages and Ways to Stay
Camp Fimfo Waco
Located just 5 miles from McLane Stadium, Camp Fimfo Waco is the perfect place to stay during home game weekends. Skip the stuffy hotel room and embrace the great outdoors before cheering on the Baylor Bears! Campers can purchase a Baylor Tailgating Package that includes a pre-game meal from Executive Chef Sean Kelley and transportation to and from the game! Chef Kelley will also be cooking up delicious, elevated tailgating meals near the stadium so make sure to check out The Plaid Plate food truck before the game.
Stay in style and comfort, no matter your camping preference! At Camp Fimfo Waco, there are multiple ways to stay. Red Carpet RV sites come with a concrete pad and patio, full hook-ups, cable hook-up, a charcoal grill, fire ring and fire pit. Back-in or pull-thru options are available, as well as coveted spots tucked along the Bosque River!
Don’t have an RV? Not a problem, Camp Fimfo Waco has cabins too! Book a Riverview Firewheel Cabin if you’re looking for an air-conditioned oasis for the whole family. Complete with a kitchen and private bathroom, this cabin can fit up to 10 people. Elevate your stay by adding on a golf cart or snag a private cabana by the pool for guaranteed shade. With wifi available throughout the park, you can stay connected during your stay!
Amenities and Activities
Camp Fimfo Waco
Camp Fimfo Waco features lots of amenities to fill your days with fun, whether you’re a kid or kid at heart. After challenging your friends to a game of pickleball, basketball, or mini golf, go for a dip in the resort-style, heated pool - open daily through October! Stay on the weekends through October to enjoy the interactive splash playground. With plenty of ways to burn off energy, like the jumping pillow or playground, you can be sure to end the day with a peaceful night around the campfire!
Right now, you can get the fourth night FREE when you book three nights with the promo code BONUS! Check out the Offers page for full details and more promo codes!