This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Monday, July 13. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.
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Austin Public Health reports 657 new cases, four times as many as on Sunday
Austin Public Health reported 657 new cases of COVID-19 in Travis County on Monday evening, up 491 from the day before. Three new deaths were reported.
There are currently 459 people hospitalized with the virus in the five-county region (Travis, Williamson, Hays, Caldwell and Bastrop). That’s up 68 cases from the day before. The seven-day average of new admissions is now 69.4.
Local officials worry about the coronavirus overwhelming local hospitals, so they’ve been keeping an eye on that average and adjusting restrictions based on it.
Previously, APH said a number above 70 would push the area into stage 5, the highest level, of APH’s risk-based guidelines. But health officials later clarified that a move to stage 5 also depends on other factors, like how sharply the average number of new admissions is increasing.
Pilot program to address growing crowds at Hill of Life trailhead
The Austin Transportation Department is launching a pilot program to address parking problems near the Hill of Life greenbelt trailhead off Loop 360. Neighbors have long complained about traffic and safety issues near the trailhead, and they say those problems have grown as more people head outdoors during the pandemic.
The program adds no-parking zones in the area, as well as metered parking through the Park ATX app on Scottish Woods Trail. New residential permit parking would also be managed digitally.
“It’s a good start in that we’re having dialogue and we’re seeing some things happen,” Christie Schultz, with the Woods of Westlake Neighborhood Association, said.
There’s no timetable right now on the pilot project. The city plans to survey residents and trailhead users before making permanent changes.
Schultz said neighbors want the trailhead itself moved to another spot, saying the current location was intended to be temporary.
“I’m hoping that it can be reestablished in a better place and that basically our sense that we live in a neighborhood and not constant ACL can be restored,” she said.
– Samuel King
Austin Public Health opens third neighborhood testing location
A third public COVID-19 testing site that doesn’t require people to arrive in a car opens on Monday. Austin Public Health launched two similar sites last week. The new one is opening at Givens Park, 3811 E. 12th St.
Unlike at APH’s main testing location, patients at these locations can arrive by foot, bicycle or motorcycle. They can also arrive in a car, if they choose. People should first take an assessment online or over the phone by calling 512-972-5560 to determine if they qualify for a test and to set up an appointment. But, APH says, depending on testing availability for the day, it won’t turn people away who don’t schedule an appointment ahead of time.
The other walk-up sites that opened last week are located at Southeast Branch Library and Little Walnut Creek Branch Library. Testing at the libraries is conducted indoors, while testing at Givens Park is done outside under a covered pavilion, APH says. The new sites were set up to make testing more accessible in parts of the city that have been most impacted by COVID-19, the agency says.
People are required to wear a face covering when they arrive.
Travis County sees nearly 500 more cases over the weekend
Austin Public Health reported 484 new cases of COVID-19 in Travis County over the weekend — 318 on Saturday and 166 on Sunday. Three more deaths were reported.
As of Sunday evening, there were 434 people hospitalized with the virus in the five-county region (Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell counties). On Saturday, there were 435.
Despite that slight net decrease, there were 146 new COVID-19 hospital admissions reported in the region over the weekend, 73 each day. The seven-day average of new hospital admissions has been hovering around 70 over the last few days.
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