The University of Texas-Austin plans to test up to 5,000 people on campus each week for COVID-19 using "a strategic, scientific-based approach" that includes rapid results, contact tracing and community testing, officials said Tuesday.
The university is relying on in-house testing for faculty, students and staff to reduce the pressures on commercial labs in the community, according to an email from Interim President Jay Hartzell to the UT community.
The goal is to test at least 5,000 members of the campus community every week in order to contain the spread of the virus once school starts, he said.
Symptomatic students will get tests at University Health Services, which provides medical care and patient education to students. Faculty and staff will be tested at the UT Health Austin clinic at Dell Medical School.
"We will have the capacity to test hundreds of symptomatic students each day using in-house labs," Hartzell said. "Additionally, we have ordered three rapid testing machines that will allow for approximately 100 tests per day with a 15-minute turnaround time for results."
UT has enlisted the help of Dell Medical School and Austin Public Health to help with contact tracing for those who test positive for coronavirus.
School officials have also established the UT Proactive Community Testing Program to test asymptomatic individuals at no cost and monitor spread within the community.
"Our success as a university begins and ends with the health of our community," Hartzell said. "While we continue to pursue our teaching and research missions, we must also do our best to limit the presence of COVID-19 on the Forty Acres. This starts with robust and rigorous testing, but also includes our individual actions as community members and our adherence to vital requirements for self-quarantining, daily symptom screening, wearing face masks, hand hygiene, social distancing and other key safety measures."
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Designs for stations along Project Connect’s Blue Line were presented this week, giving a detailed look at what part of the rail system extending from downtown to the airport could look like.
The planned stations that have gotten the latest focus include Waterfront, Travis Heights and Lakeshore stations past Lady Bird Lake.
At the Waterfront station, the preliminary design aims to prevent visual obstructions and save on costs. This is accomplished by a transit guideway that will lower from the bridge to a level station.
Heading onto East Riverside Drive, the light rail faces a curve requiring a slow down to about 10 miles per hour.
The Travis Heights station could involve relocating a pedestrian crosswalk zone at Alameda Drive to Blunn Creek. Since light rails can't effectively operate on a steep grade, this allows the transit guideway to avoid that.
From there, the rail will extend to the Norwood Park area, and though it will reach along the right-of-way zone, the park will be able to remain open.
A view of the Blue Line by Lady Bird Lake. (Project Connect)
The line involves some coordination with the Texas Department of Transportation. That's because the department is working on an intersection that will have to be built before the phasing of the section of the Blue Line involving an I-35 crossing.
When it comes to the safety of cyclists and walkers, design ideas include a pedestrian hybrid beacon by East Bouldin Creek that would provide a protected signal to cross. And for the intersection TxDOT is carrying out, Project Connect is working with them on pedestrian access across the intersection. It could involve shared use paths along the street and crossings beneath it.
This summer, the public can expect 30% of design and cost estimates to be released. Though the project was $7.1 billion when voters approved it in November 2020, the latest estimates factoring in inflation and supply chain constraints show it could ultimately be upwards of $10 billion.
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Plans for an Amazon warehouse in Round Rock—a $250 million project slated to be a large distribution center—are on hold.
This comes just after the tech giant had its worst financial quarter in seven years.
- Late last year, it announced an expansion at the Domain adding 2,000 more corporate and tech jobs.
- Amazon still owns the site in Round Rock. Plans for it are unclear.
- Early this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon is aiming to scrap warehouse space as it faces a slowdown in its e-commerce operations.
Part of that effort involves exploring the possibility of ending or renegotiating leases with outside warehouse owners. Another aspect is a plan to sublease warehouse space.
“It allows us to relieve the financial obligations associated with an existing building that no longer meets our needs,” an Amazon spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal. “Subleasing is something many established corporations do to help manage their real estate portfolio.”
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