Austin Public Health officials are treating three people who have tested positive for the new coronavirus Friday. State health officials said two of those tests came from people who live outside of Travis County.
Austin officials said none of the cases are believed to be community spread, meaning the illness did not come from an unknown infected person.
Dr. Mark Escott, Austin’s interim health authority, said at a press conference that the first two cases are not related to each other. One patient is a woman in her 30s believed to have caught the disease from a Houston-area coronavirus patient. The woman is quarantined in her home, where other people live and are being monitored for symptoms.
Another patient is a man in his 60s who is critically ill. He was diagnosed in an Austin-area hospital after being transferred from a rural region of the state, Escott said, adding that metro area hospitals routinely accept patients from rural areas.
Officials said on Twitter that the third case is a woman in her 60s, and it's believed to be travel related.
The third case was disclosed shortly after University of Texas at Austin President Gregory Fenves announced that his wife tested positive for the new coronavirus and that he is self-quarantining.
“This is concerning but not surprising and we have been prepared for the arrival of COVID-19 in our area,” Escott said in a statement. “It is critical that the community continue to heed our recommendations and take personal hygiene seriously. This will be the key to ensuring that this virus doesn’t spread.”
Austin Independent School District announced that school and offices would be closed Friday “in the interest of health safety in regard to our students and staff.” The University of Texas at Austin initially said it would remain open but announced later Friday morning that it would be canceling operations and classes for the day, tweeting that “essential personnel only should work today.” St. Edward’s University in Austin and the Austin Community College District made similar announcements.
UPDATE: UT Austin will be closing operations and cancelling classes today, Fri. March 13. DISREGARD EARLIER MESSAGING. Essential personnel only should work today. Given the rapidly evolving situation, we now believe it is in the best interest of the campus community to close. pic.twitter.com/RBXbZu5BXT— UT Austin (@UTAustin) March 13, 2020
Texas has at least 50 cases of COVID-19, including those in Austin. The largest numbers of cases have largely been centered in the Houston area, in North Texas and at a federal quarantine site in San Antonio.
Last week, Austin officials canceled the South by Southwest music and tech festival, which took in more than $350 million last year.
Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin, St. Edward's University, the Austin Community College District and SXSW have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.