coronavirus

As College Campuses Battle COVID-19, White House Recommends Restrictions for Nearby Businesses

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With the fall semester in full swing, there's a new normal on campuses like the University of Texas at Arlington, where officials are increasing COVID-19 testing capabilities and flexibility for students.

“We also were able to provide different types of class modality for our students so that they could choose what might be best for their health and safety, so we're offering in-person, hybrid and online modality,” Vice President of Student Affairs Lisa Nagy said.

Since March, she said UTA’s reported just over three dozen cases.

Elsewhere, the numbers have been higher, with 237 currently active cases at SMU.

At TCU, some faculty have recently called for a return to online-only learning with more than 700 total new cases this fall.

This week, a White House report suggested that to continue the progress Texas has made in slowing the spread of COVID-19, it should consider reducing hours and capacity in bars and restaurants near college campuses.

"It's just unfair to capriciously select some businesses,” said Michael Klien, president of the Texas Bar and Nightclub Association.

Klein said he's optimistic Gov. Greg Abbott (R) wouldn't announce further restrictions.

Though he said if he did, it could be devastating for the hundreds of bars that have recently retooled as restaurants for the opportunity to reopen.

Already, Klein estimated that at least 30% of their membership has been forced to permanently close.

“I can’t even imagine the outrage that I would hope would be not just from these business owners but from the general public who come and say, 'OK, where do we get the data to determine what the radius is or what defines a college town?'" Klein said.

Still, health officials warned without some kind of change, progress fighting the coronavirus in Texas could be lost.

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