Central Texas Covid-19 Snapshot
Governor Greg Abbott has issued an executive order limiting some businesses and services in an effort to quell the increase of Covid-19 cases. Restaurants must reduce capacity to 50 percent. Bars, rafting and tubing businesses must close. Outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people must be approved by local governments. The order comes as the Covid-19 positivity rate in Texas passed 10 percent, which Abbott previously said would trigger action at the state level to contain the virus.
This move comes after Austin and Travis County have extended their "Stay Home, Work Safe order through August 15.
Risk Level update: Austin Public Health released a chart on how people can take precautions at each Covid-19 risk level. A recent increase in the weekly average of hosipital admission pushed the Travis County Risk to Level 5. Austin Public Health has said the 7-day average needs to stay below 20 to prevent straining hospital resources. The current average is at 74.9 and within Stage 5 risk levels, but officials are still deciding on wether to make that offical. To learn more, head here.
Covid-19 testing will be available at 44 CVS locations in Texas. People must register ahead of time at CVS.com. Tests will be given through the pharmacy drive-thru and given to a third party lab for processing with results coming back in about three days. Full list of available locations and instructions available here.
Austin Public Health has launched an online tool to help people get screened for coronavirus symptoms. The new online enrollment form asks a series of questions to determine eligibility for testing. If approved, the next move will be to schedule a location, date and time for a drive-thru test for Covid-19. The form and other updates from Austin government can be found here.
Covid-19 testing is now available for all Williamson County residents. The county and Family Emergency Room are offering free drive-through testing Monday through Friday. Residents can start the process here and will be contacted to schedule an appointment. A nasal swab test is available at this time. They are not doing anti-body testing. Residents don't need to be experiencing symptoms to schedule a test.
The Texas Education Agency has released guidelines for students returning to school for the fall semester. All teachers, staff, visitors and students will be screened before returning to campus, and masks will be required per Governor Abbott's order. While classroom learning will be available, parents will have the option to switch to remote learning at any point in the semester. TEA also announced it will be offering resources to schools like personal protective equipment, online classes, teacher training, and reimbursement for Covid-19 related expenses. Teachers unions across the state have expressed concern that the state is moving too quickly to reopen schools and not enough safety protocols have been put in place.
The University of Texas at Austin has released a statement saying that a custodial staff member has died from complications of Covid-19. This comes after 10 custodial employees tested positive back in May. UT Austin has created a data dashboard showing a breakdown how the coronavirus has affected the university community. UT has recently updated their Fall 2020 Reopening Plan to restart in-person classses in August and finish the semester online after the Thanksgiving break.
In response to the surge of Covid-19 cases in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott issues a statewide order limit the number of people who can gather to make wearing masks mandatory. People living in counties with 20 or more active cases need to wear masks. "If Texans commit to wearing face coverings in public spaces and follow the best health and safety practices, we can both slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep Texas open for business. I urge all Texans to wear a face covering in public, not just for their own health, but for the health of their families, friends, and for all our fellow Texans,” Gov. Abbott said.
A new partnership between the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and Texas Military Department will give face masks to every person who gets a Covid-19 test at state-run mobile testing sites. Governor Greg Abbott said people will receive four surgical masks. Head here to see the list of TDEM testing sites.
Helping the Helpers
Through our reporting, we know the crucial role thousands of non-profit organizations play in the daily lives of Central Texans and the uncertainty they may be feeling right now. That’s why we are dedicated to Help the Helpers and pledge to act as a communication hub for these groups.
What can you do to help? We've been hearing from nonprofits on ways to help. Here's a handy list of organizations needing help as a well as who's offering services to help the community during this time.
What to Watch
The Decibel team is remote but we're still committed to making sure you stay informed. Keep up with all of our Covid-19 reporting below. If you have any questions or want to get information to us, send us an email at email@example.com.
Cities across the country grapple with the best response as Covid-19 coronavirus disease spreads worldwide. Local and national events have been canceled or postponed, universities and workplaces have moved to working online. In Texas, Govenor Greg Abbott's Open Texas executive order is rolling out in phases. Businesses reopening under the order have been asked to keep occupancy between 25 to 50 percent and follow social distancing guidelines.
Keep checking this page as Decibel checks in on the different ways Covid-19 is affecting the city and Central Texas. Below are some local, state and national resources giving updates.
Last update: July 8, 2020 at 5:01 p.m.
Did you value this reporting? Then please consider making a donation to Austin PBS. Your gift makes the quality journalism done by the Decibel team possible. Thank you for your contribution.
See all Health posts