Update on COVID-19

November 20, 2020

Dear CTX Students and Families,

As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to share a few updates around COVID-19, conditions in the community, conditions on campus, and things to think about as we return to finish out the semester.

Conditions in the Community

The 5-county area of Central Texas has seen a steady increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations since the beginning of October. Yesterday, Austin-Travis County moved to Stage 4 for risk-based guidelines. These guidelines – not regulations – suggest levels of occupancy for businesses. The change from Stage 3 to Stage 4 is based more on trends and number of available healthcare workers than actual thresholds being met. We are far from the worst conditions that peaked in early July, but we are not trending in the right direction as a community.

Conditions on Campus

We are currently tracking 11 active cases of COVID-19. Two of the eleven cases are in the residence halls and four of the eleven cases are from fully online users with no contact with any CTX students or employees. We have more than 125 individuals currently in quarantine. This is the highest we've had to date. Here's why that number is so high. We have a robust contact tracing approach that isolates not only the positive case and their close contacts, but two generations of contacts from that positive case. That means we isolate the positive case (Generation 0), any close contacts of that case (Generation 1), and any close contacts of those close contacts (Generation 2). If the positive case is in the residence halls, we isolate to the third generation. Positive cases are required to isolate for 14 days. Close contacts are required to isolate 72 hours from exposure and then can end their isolation if they receive a negative test result and are symptom free without medication.

In addition, we use that same practice for individuals who report being symptomatic or possibly exposed. This can make our isolation numbers fluctuate widely day-to-day as we find isolate contacts and then release them as test results come in AND it helps prevent spread. Overall, the caseload has been very reasonable compared to our peers and other area universities. The process of contact tracing is labor intensive, but we have a team of trained people who handle it when we need them. If you'd like to volunteer to assist with future contact tracing, let me know.

As we monitor campus and community conditions, we consider a multitude of factors in deciding whether to alter operations and how we might do that. Those factors generally fall into one of two main categories: whether we are seeing viral spread in our community and our ability to respond to the needs generated by conditions on the ground. I can assure you there is a team watching these factors constantly and discussing adjustments all the time. As adjustments are made, we will communicate them quickly and clearly.

Thanksgiving and the Return to Campus

As you head home for the Thanksgiving break, I would encourage you to consider the following:

  1. Keep gatherings as small as possible, spread out as possible, and outdoors if possible.
  2. Listen to your body. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, isolate immediately and seek medical care.

As you return:

  1. Mentally review your interactions and contacts. If you feel you may have been exposed, stay home.
  2. Think about where you've been. If you've been to high-risk areas (COVID-19 hot zones, airports, dense areas) consider isolating for a while to ensure you are healthy prior to returning.
  3. Stay as socially distant as possible for the first few days after the break. If you pick up anything while on break, you likely aren't to experience symptoms (if you do at all) for several days after.
  4. Again, listen to your body. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, isolate immediately, seek medical care.

The name of the game is avoiding close contact

Close contact is defined as being within six feet of someone for more than 15 minutes. The more we avoid that, the less likely we are to spread the virus and the less impactful a positive case is to our community.

Wear your mask, enjoy your holiday, give thanks to God for His provision in our lives, and we'll see you soon!

Dan Gregory
Vice President - Administration