UPDATED: Texas State Capitol building will close to public as of March 18, UT moves to online classes for remainder of semester

According to a letter from the State Preservation Board to elected officials, the Texas State Capitol will close to the public beginning on March 18. Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper
According to a letter from the State Preservation Board to elected officials, the Texas State Capitol will close to the public beginning on March 18. Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper

According to a letter from the State Preservation Board to elected officials, the Texas State Capitol will close to the public beginning on March 18. Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper

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Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and social distancing could help stop the spread of coronavirus. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Update: 5:44 p.m. March 17

The University of Texas will move to online classes from March 30, the end of its extended spring break, through the remainder of the semester.

"We are asking students not to return to campus this semester unless there is a specific need," wrote president Gregory Fenves in a March 17 letter.

Fenves said in the letter that as the date of commencement ceremonies scheduled for May gets closer, the university will reassess whether public ceremonies are appropriate.

"Life on our campus, in our city and across the world has changed for the coming months," he wrote.

Update: 3:44 p.m. March 17

Effective 8 a.m. on Wednesday, March 18, the Texas State Capitol will be fully closed to the public in an effort to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, posted a letter from Rod Welsh, executive director of the State Preservation Board, to all Capitol offices via Twitter on March 17 with the news.

According to the letter from Welsh, elected officials, their staff and state agency personnel personnel will still have access to the building. Officials and staff members must now meet vendors, contractors, and those making deliveries outside.

In addition to the Capitol building itself, the Texas State Cemetary, Capitol Visitors Parking Garage, Texas Capitol Visitors Center will also shut down to the public. The Bullock Texas State History Museum had previously announced its closure, and that will remain in effect.

Welsh did not give a date for reopening, but said the State Preservation Board will notify elected officials and the public when the building is set to reopen.

Update: 9:33 p.m. March 16

According to updated numbers from Austin and Travis County, there have been 10 confirmed cases of coronavirus locally. These numbers include residents, people in hospitals in the Travis County area and people sheltering in the area. The number of cases will be updated again the evening of March 17.

Update: 12:19 p.m. March 16

The Travis County Clerk has announced that its office at 5501 Airport Blvd. will only be allowing 50 customers at a time to enter the building. Services at the location include marriage licenses and assumed name certificates—or DBAs—for new businesses. Previously, the county announced the suspension of all in-person, non-emergency court hearings until April 13.

Update: 10:00 a.m. March 16

As of 7 p.m. on March 15, Austin Public Health officials have confirmed six cases of coronavirus in Travis County. All cases are travel-related, according to officials, and there has not yet been any person-to-person spread of the disease locally. Public health officials will update the number of cases confirmed locally daily going forward.

Original story

City and county officials confirmed additional presumptive positive cases of coronavirus in Travis County as of 2 p.m. on March 15.

All the cases are travel-related, according to a city spokesperson, and there has not yet been any person-to-person spread of the virus within Travis County.

Austin Public Health had previously confirmed three positive cases, a man in his 60s, a woman in her 60s and a woman in her 30s.

No other details were released about the individuals who tested positive, but University of Texas President Gregory Fenves said in a letter to the UT community that one positive test was his wife, Carmel Fenves.

Gregory Fenves said he has since tested negative for the virus.

According to a city spokesperson, officials will give the public and the media daily updates on the number of local cases going forward beginning on March 15.
By Jack Flagler
Jack is the editor of Community Impact Newspaper's Central Austin and Southwest Austin editions. He began his career as a sports reporter in Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in 2018. He grew up in Maine and graduated from Boston University, but prefers tacos al pastor to lobster rolls. You can get in touch at [email protected]


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