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COVID-19 Latest: Food Distribution Planned For Saturday

A team of volunteers with P A R K S P A C E create an installation of seating spaces that are 6-feet apart at the Ann and Roy butler Hike-And-Bike Trail on Wednesday.
Gabriel C. Pérez
A team of volunteers with P A R K S P A C E create an installation of seating spaces that are 6-feet apart along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-And-Bike Trail on Wednesday.

This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Friday, Sept. 18. If you have a news tip or question, email us at

Travis County sees 163 new cases and one more death

Austin Public Health reported 163 new cases of COVID-19 in Travis County on Friday, up from 109 on Thursday. The seven-day average of daily new cases is 121. One more death was reported, bringing the county’s death total to 414.

There are now 82 people reported to be hospitalized with the virus in the five-county region (Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell), up from 79 the day before. APH reported a total of 20 new hospital admissions in the region Friday. The seven-day average of new admissions is 14, up from 13.

The area is in stage 3 of APH’s risk-based guidelines. At this level, people are encouraged to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.

New dashboard shows positivity rate by ZIP code

Austin Public Health released a new COVID-19 dashboard Friday that outlines positivity rates by ZIP code. The positivity rate is the percentage of tests administered that come back positive.

As of Sept. 11, 78617 in Southeast Travis County had the highest positivity rate — 13.7% — meaning 16 of the 117 tests administered to residents of that ZIP code in one week returned positive results.

View the dashboard here or below:

The 78735 ZIP code in Southwest Travis County had a 300% increase in new cases compared to the week prior, the highest increase among ZIP codes.

The Eastern Travis County ZIP code 78724 saw the highest increase in its positivity rate; it increased 60.7% from the week before and now stands at 9%. The overall positivity rate for Austin-Travis County is 4.8%.

“The positivity rate shows how common the virus may be in the community,” APH Chief Epidemiologist Janet Pichette said in a press release. “We look at this data along with new cases, hospitalizations and deaths for guidance."

The dashboard will be updated weekly on Tuesdays by 6 p.m.

State Supreme Court is requiring renters be educated about national eviction ban

The Texas Supreme Court on Thursday issued an order mandating courts let renters who are facing eviction know about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ban on the practice.

The state’s highest judicial body is requiring courts to include information about the national moratorium when serving a tenant with an eviction. The courts also have to provide the tenant with the declaration they are required to sign and give their landlord to qualify for protection. The document, which is legally binding, states the renter has lost income or work hours during the pandemic and is doing their best to make partial rent payments.

The state’s order also requires landlords to say whether a tenant has given them a copy of the CDC’s declaration at the time of filing an eviction.

— Audrey McGlinchy

Austin area’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.5% last month

The unemployment rate in the Austin-Round Rock MSA decreased from 6.7% in July to 5.5% in August, according to new numbers from the Texas Workforce Commission. The local rate is lower than Texas’ (7%) and the country’s (8.5%).

There were 9,665 new unemployment claims in August, compared to 9,419 the month before.

“It’s encouraging that fewer and fewer Austinites are newly out of a job. Austin has been digging out of its hole,” Tamara Atkinson, chief executive officer at Workforce Solutions Capital Area, said in a press release. “It’s also clear that furloughs, which started as temporary, are now becoming permanent. Employers in struggling sectors are finding it harder to keep their businesses afloat.”

Workforce Solutions is a public-private partnership that connects people to jobs. The organization says the sectors that saw the biggest increases in jobs in August were professional and business services, followed by education and health services.

One in four jobless residents in Travis County had previously been working in foodservice, retail and personal care, according to Workforce Solutions. People of color, people who are younger (ages 16-34) and people with less education than an associate’s degree continue to disproportionately make up the unemployed population in the county. Joblessness has also disproportionately impacted lower-income residents.

Emergency relief food distribution to take place Saturday

The Central Texas Food Bank is hosting a drive-thru food distribution for people in need on Saturday at the Travis County Expo Center.

Pre-packed boxes of food will be loaded into your car’s trunk, so the food bank asks that you make room before getting there.

The food distribution takes place from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at 7311 Decker Lane, Austin.

The food bank is also planning to host emergency relief food distributions on Sept. 24 at Toney Burger Stadium and Sept. 26 at Del Valle High School.

COVID-19 Dashboards



What's happening statewide? Check out special coverage from KERA for North Texas, Houston Public MediaTexas Public Radioin San Antonio and Marfa Public Radio.

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