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Elephant Room in Austin re-closes amid COVID-19 concerns

After reopening June 22 following 15 months of coronavirus-related closure, downtown jazz club the Elephant Room recently closed its doors again when an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

The basement venue below Swift's Attic restaurant at 315 Congress Ave. has kept its customers informed of the situation via social media posts over the past few days. It began with a July 7 public Facebook post that read, in part: "The Elephant Room will be closed until July 14th in accordance to CDC guidelines as one of our waitresses tested positive" for COVID-19.

A subsequent post on July 11 confirmed that the closure would extend beyond July 14: "The club will remain closed while we're figuring some things out. … did we open too soon? Should we do some more PUBcasts? We're in 'think' mode."

The Elephant Room has re-closed after a waitress tested positive for COVID-19.

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Not long after the Elephant Room's posts, other reports of COVID-19 cases in the local music community began to surface on social media. In a July 17 public Facebook post, musician George Brainard reported that he and one of his Imperial Starlighters bandmates tested positive a few days after a July 11 performance at C-Boy's. 

Brainard noted that his positive test followed "17 months of being so very careful. After standing in line to get both Pfizer shots in April. After staying home for months and then wearing a mask everywhere. After sanitizing my hands 10,000 times. After only doing curbside groceries for over a year.

"I figured (and everyone told me) that now that I was fully vaccinated I was totally safe. I played one gig and I got it anyway. At least one other fully vaccinated bandmate got it that night, too. We are both singers and couldn’t wear a mask."

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Brainard noted that his symptoms were mild and credited the vaccine for helping to lessen the impact of the virus. "Vaccines work!" he wrote. "I am not super sick, I can breathe fine, I can taste and smell. I am a little sniffly, have a slight headache, and am kind of tired. But I am also super contagious, so I have to quarantine for 10 days to stop the spread."

He also encouraged those not vaccinated to get the vaccine. "This could be so much worse if I weren’t vaccinated, but it would not have happened at all if everyone else was," Brainard wrote. "Vaccines protect the community more than the individual. It only works if enough people get vaccinated. If you care more about humanity than your own feelings or fears then do it! This won’t be over until you do."