This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Friday, July 10. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.
- Do you think you have the coronavirus? Here's how to get tested.
- How to get help (and help) in Austin
- Find mental health support
- Track the spread in Texas
- Sign up for coronavirus email alerts
Austin Public Health reports seven new deaths in Travis County
Austin Public Health reported 440 new cases of COVID-19 in Travis County on Friday evening, down from the 703 cases reported Thursday. Seven new deaths were reported.
There are currently 438 people hospitalized with the virus in the five-county region (Travis, Williamson, Hays, Caldwell and Bastrop). That’s two fewer than Thursday. Though the net total decreased, APH reported 70 new COVID-19 hospital admissions in the region Friday. The seven-day average of new admissions is now 66, down from 71.6.
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.
The three big hospital systems in Central Texas said their total ICU occupancy right now is 86%. A joint statement from Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott and White and Saint David’s Health Care said that’s out a total capacity of almost 500 ICU beds. When it comes to all staffed hospital beds, the three systems say they're at 77% occupancy.
Abbott extends disaster declaration in response to pandemic
Gov. Greg Abbott is extending the disaster declaration he issued in March at the start of the pandemic. The declaration frees up state and local resources to cope with the spread of the virus. It also suspends any state administrative rules that would stop or delay a government response to the disaster.
Abbott’s office also announced Friday that the state is partnering with the CVS-owned company Omnicare to provide on-site same-day testing and results for nursing home staff and residents.
Austin to host multilingual online conversation about COVID-19 on Saturday
Austin Public Health and the city's Equity Office are hosting a virtual town hall Saturday to learn more about how the pandemic is affecting the local Spanish-, Arabic-, Burmese- and Vietnamese-speaking communities.
Carmen Llanes Pulido, executive director of the East Austin nonprofit Go Austin/Vamos Austin, will lead one of the Spanish-language breakout sessions.
"The primary goal is to bring people together to share information, share perspectives and ideas so we can really understand how people in the Latino community are being affected," she said, "and also understand what opportunities there are to – just to do better by our communities.”
The event starts at 10 a.m. To register, go here.
San Marcos walk-up testing site opens on Sunday
Hays County is offering more walk-up testing for COVID-19 starting Sunday. People ages 5 and older can get tested at San Marcos High School. The site will open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Thursday, July 16.
You don’t have to live in Hays County to access the testing, and no symptoms or registration are required. Tests are free and made possible by the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Texas Army National Guard and the City of San Marcos Office of Emergency Management.
People are required to wear face coverings to the testing site.
Food bank to host food distribution event in Kyle on Saturday
The City of Kyle and the Central Texas Food Bank are giving out meals on Saturday to families hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. People can receive emergency food boxes that include produce, milk and protein.
Only one person from each household is allowed to attend the drive-thru event. Due to coronavirus restrictions, walk-ups are not allowed.
Drivers are asked to make space in their vehicles before arriving. Food will be distributed at the Smile Direct facility, 300 Vista Ridge Dr., from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Advocates warn cuts to Texas health programs will make effects of pandemic worse
Advocates are warning proposed budget cuts to Texas health programs will make a bad situation worse in the middle of a pandemic. Many programs that provide health care and nutrition services to women and children would be affected by proposals being made ahead of the 2021 legislative session.
Gov. Greg Abbott is asking state agencies to cut 5% of their budget across the board as the state faces financial challenges. Stephanie Rubin with Texans Care for Children says cuts proposed by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission would affect programs that are currently helping families through the pandemic.
"I mean these are programs that help families get access to health coverage and health treatment, support moms who are pregnant or have just had babies," Rubin said. "They oversee the SNAP program which benefits for low-income families who need access to food."
Rubin would rather the state dip into its several billion dollar rainy day fund or work to draw down more federal funds. Republican state Rep. Sarah Davis of Houston has also been raising concerns about the proposed cuts. She said in a letter to health officials that the cuts place short term savings over the long term health of Texans.
— Ashley Lopez
If you find this reporting valuable, please consider making a donation to support it. Your gift pays for everything you find on KUT.org. Thanks for donating today.