On Saturday, the Texas Longhorns opened the NCAA football season by beating the UTEP Miners 59–3. It wasn’t much of a contest, and the outcome was never in question. But there were plenty of non-football questions swirling around the matchup whose answers were less predetermined.
One thing known for sure: the crowd almost certainly wasn’t COVID-free. The 1,198 students who purchased the “Big Ticket” package from the university were required to test negative in a rapid antigen test for the virus before they could receive their tickets. Of those tests, 95 came back positive.
Saturday’s game was just the latest example of UT-Austin’s inconsistent handling of COVID-19. Though the flagship university was an early adopter in instituting an online COVID dashboard, the information it offers is incomplete. The dashboard tells us, for example, that 18 students tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
In August, the university announced a proactive community testing program, which selects faculty, students, and staff who are not currently exhibiting COVID symptoms and offers them the opportunity to volunteer for free testing. This initiative was intended to track the asymptomatic spread of the virus among a wide swath of the university community the initial announcement from the school promised 5,000 weekly tests.