COVID-19 compliance at UT home game started strong, deteriorated as it went on, APH says

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APH say the COVID-19 precautions taken at last weekend's University of Texas football games were followed well at the start of the game--but not so much as the game wore on (File photo: CBS Austin)

The University of Texas at Austin is getting mixed reviews on how well it enforced coronavirus pandemic rules at its first football game of the season.

On Friday, Austin Public Health (APH) said UT started strong but finished weak at last Saturday's game.

APH applauded the guidelines put in place prior to the football game. Health officials say the university did a good job screening UT students for COVID-19 and only allowing those who tested negative to attend the season opener against UTEP.

Austin Public Health had observation teams at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium. They reported that pre-game and the first quarter had good enforcement of safety rules that required masking and social distancing. But later in the football game the APH observers found flaws in enforcement.

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"What they observed is that the game started out safely, but as it progressed the masks came off and people started moving closer to the field," said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Health Authority for Austin Public Health. "Our feedback to the University of Texas is that if you’re going to continue to have people in the stands that you have to continue enforcement throughout the game to ensure those activities can be done safely."

Dr. Mark Escott says it may be possible later this fall to test all fans, not just students, before they're allowed to attend UT football games.

"As we look toward games in November, in particular, that technology and capability may be there," said Dr. Escott. "We’re waiting on technology to catch up so we can have more events and do them safely."