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More restrictions for bars, restaurants in Texas counties with universities recommended by White House

A top recommendation for Texas: "consider a further reduction in hours and occupancy limits in bars and restaurants in university counties."

AUSTIN, Texas — In a White House briefing from Sept. 6, recommendations for the State of Texas include additional reduced hours and occupancy limits in bars and restaurants in counties with universities.

ABC obtained the White House Coronavirus Task Force governors briefing from Sept. 6, providing an insider's perspective for COVID-19-related recommendations for the State of Texas. 

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WFAA reporter William Joy tweeted a photo of the recommendations on Sept. 9. 

Among the recommendations stated in the report were, but not limited to: 

  • Consider a further reduction in hours and occupancy limits in bars and restaurants in university counties
  • Ensure there are quick turnaround times for results and rapid isolation of cases and quarantine of contacts. Residential cases and contacts should not be sent home to isolate or quarantine
  • Increase testing capacity by increasing the budget and capacity of public health labs through: first, ensuring hospitals move elective surgeries and admissions testing to pooling in order to reserve tests for community outreach, and second, utilizing all university, veterinary, and research platform for surveillance and testing of students
  • Recruit college and university students to expand public health messaging and contact tracing capacity
  • Ask citizens and students to limit all social gatherings to 10 or fewer people

Austin Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott told KVUE Wednesday he agrees with this recommendation and said he hopes bars will stay closed. He said, luckily, college-aged students don't have a high rate of death, but they do spread COVID-19. He added, "we have to react if that's the circumstance we experience."

"My hope is that bars will stay closed and the city and county are taking responsibility to help with enforcement," said Escott.

As of Sept. 9, the University of Texas at Austin has reported 170 coronavirus cases since the start of classes on Aug. 26. Since Sept. 1, UT has reported 162 cases. For a breakdown of the numbers at UT, go to the university's COVID-19 dashboard.

Texas State University has reported 164 cases since classes started on Aug. 24.

Many universities in Texas make up a large chunk of the city’s population. There is no requirement for a campus to post its COVID-19 statistics publicly.  

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