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Two in Austin test positive for coronavirus, first in central Texas

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View from the Capitol Rotunda in Austin. Austin Price for The Texas Tribune

Officials announced early Friday morning that two people in Austin tested positive for the new coronavirus, marking the first cases in central Texas to be confirmed.

The city’s release said neither case is believed to be caused by community spread, meaning the illness did not come from an unknown infected person. But the release did not disclose where the two people are believed to have contracted the virus.

“This is concerning but not surprising and we have been prepared for the arrival of COVID-19 in our area,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County Interim Medical Authority. “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.”

After the announcement from the city, Austin Independent School District said that school and offices would be closed Friday, March 13 “ in the interest of health safety in regard to our students and staff.” UT Austin said it will remain open on Friday.

The announcement of two positive tests in Austin brings the total number of confirmed cases in Texas to at least 44 as of Friday morning. 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 South by Southwest music and tech festival, which took in more than $350 million last year.