Nearly 100 University of Texas at Austin students tested positive for COVID-19 when trying to gain entry to the Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday for the Texas Longhorns' first home game of the season.
The university required students to get tested for COVID-19 prior to entering the stadium. Of the 1,198 students who were tested, 95 were found to have the disease, according to a university spokesperson. This represents a positivity rate of 7.9%, or nearly double the most recently reported county-wide rate of 4.6%.The number of positive results exceeded Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott's estimate last week that 40-50 people would show up to the game with COVID. Just over 15,000 fans attended the game against UT-El Paso—fewer than the 18,000 expected. The vast majority of them were not students so were not required to be tested prior to entry, which raised concerns on social media.
While I appreciate that the University of Texas did test a small portion of its attendees for yesterday's game (the… https://t.co/8piUmlvOUP— Benjy Renton (@Benjy Renton)1600032940.0
15,337 people attended an American football game at UT Austin Prior to the game 1,198 students were tested for Cov… https://t.co/a2NLyZaEmY— Harry Siviter (@Harry Siviter)1600047410.0
The university used rapid antigen testing, which provides results in around 15 minutes, at the game. However, positive results from such tests are not considered confirmed but "probable" by the city of Austin and Travis County, in accordance with CDC guidelines. The results are not included on the city's public dashboard, according to a city spokesperson.
Rapid testing is a key element of UT Austin's testing strategy. In early August, the university said it planned to test up to 5,000 people on campus each week, with a focus on providing free testing to asymptomatic individuals as a way to monitor community spread.
Since the fall semester started on Aug. 26, however, the university has tested fewer than 2,000 people each week as part of this proactive community testing program, with a positivity rate of around 1.4%.
Overall, the university has reported 354 COVID-19 cases among students since classes began, including around 100 reported last week stemming from three clusters in West Campus. This total does not include the 95 positive results from game day, the spokesperson said, because those cases are still being verified and checked against previous reports to detect any duplicates.
This caseload includes positive test results from the proactive community testing program as well as from University Health Services, UT Health Austin clinics and other facilities.
In an Aug. 21 email sent to the campus community, UT Austin Interim President Jay Hartzell said the administration will consider a number of metrics in deciding whether to move more classes online or close buildings on campus due to the pandemic.
The next home game is against Texas Christian University on Oct. 3. The 100,000-person stadium will be limited to 25% capacity, although local health officials have cautioned against attendance even with the capacity limits.
"Ultimately you're going to have 25,000 people in one spot and it's going to be difficult to prevent all of those interactions from happening," Escott said Wednesday.
- UT plans on Longhorns football in fall 2020 - austonia ›
- Austin's top doc: 'College football in the fall is going to be a stretch ... ›
- UT-Austin says it will require only student ticket holders to test ... ›
- What losing football to COVID-19 would mean for Texas college towns ›
- Over a dozen UT football players test positive for COVID-19 - austonia ›
- Rapid antigen test still not counted in Austin COVID numbers - austonia ›
- UT plans to return to over 90% in-person classes this fall - austonia ›
Austin FC couldn't find the stamina to fight off a 2-0 loss against LAFC for their inaugural match on Saturday.
The match, which saw No. 21 Austin FC go head-to-head with No. 2 LAFC in Los Angeles, was broadcast nationally on FOX and FOX Deportes.
Salute the support. 👏
It's only the beginning for @AustinFC. pic.twitter.com/TduorqYr2y
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 18, 2021
Eleven players took the stage as Austin FC players for the first time, with five starters making their MLS debut. "Ringleader" Alex Ring took the captain's armband and wore it well. The defensive midfielder could be seen leading his teammates through their first ever match, but it wasn't enough to stage an Austin takeover in LA.
In the signature style of Head Coach Josh Wolff, the team played with quickness and intensity, nearly connecting on several fast breaks. It was harder for them to stay in front, however, something that Wolff credits with quick decision making and a tough LAFC defense.
"We have a quick attacking team, but I think when you make quick attacks and it fizzles it's just about some decision making," Wolff said. "Are we in position to finish attacks? If not, can we reestablish our attack and get stuff better?"
The club was given some generous breaks from No. 2 LAFC, who had one or both of their star DPs out for the half. While forward Diego Rossi is out for the entire match due to a hamstring injury, Carlos Vela was accidentally pulled too soon on what turned out to be a miscommunication.
"He gave us the sign that he needed to come off," LAFC Head Coach Bob Bradley said on broadcast. "I can't say more than maybe it's my fault."
LA pulled some dramatics and slowly gained more possession throughout the half, but ATXFC's defense wasn't initially as shaky as it seemed in preseason. Jhohan Romana has pulled his weight in getting the ball out of goal, and a 34-year old Matt Besler held his own in center back.
As the second half commenced, however, it became clear that LAFC had the advantage over Austin's first major league team.
Goalkeeper Brad Stuver had his work cut out for him, fending off 24 shot attempts, 11 of which were on goal. He didn't have much time to prepare, either: in the first 30 seconds of play, Stuver had already made a save to keep the match 0-0.
LAFC finally connected in the 61st minute of play as Corey Baird shot one into the bottom right corner. The team capitalized off their momentum and put one past Stuver a second time, drawing roars of approval from the LAFC crowd.
While some last-minute attempts from Jon Gallagher and others were made, Austin FC didn't have the endurance to bring a tie. After seven additional minutes of stoppage time, the club lost their first match 2-0.
While the scoreboard tells one story, Wolff said that the team did well considering the skill of LAFC and the pressure of their club debut.
"We've got to be realistic," Wolff said. "This is the first time this organization has been in front of TV with an opportunity to show itself and I think there were some promising moments. And we're going to maximize those and continue to try to develop those, but there's lots to build on."
The team may have lost, but it still won the support of thousands of Verde fans, dozens of which made it to watch their team's first match. When Stuver and the team made it to bthe stadium, Los Verdes fans were already there to show support, and Stuver said his wife saw the same back in Austin.
"The moment that we pulled into the stadium, we saw Black and Verde fans cheering us on as we got to the stadium," Stuver said. "During warm up, you can just look around and see different groups sitting in different sections of the stadium and it's just truly amazing to see the support in our first game. We know that we want to give the fans everything, because this we play for the city and we play for them."