COVID-19 Latest: Despite Drop In Hospital Average, Austin Will Stick With Stronger Restrictions

Jul 30, 2020

This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Thursday, July 30. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.

Austin-Travis County to stay at stage 4 despite drop in hospital admissions average 

Austin Public Health reported 278 new cases of COVID-19 in Travis County on Thursday, 43 more cases than yesterday. Two more people have died from the disease, according to APH, bringing the county’s death total to 266.

There are currently 355 people hospitalized with the virus in the five-county region (Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell), 16 fewer than yesterday. There were 46 new COVID-19 hospital admissions Thursday, nine more than yesterday. The seven-day average of new hospital admissions is now 39.9, down from 41.3. This is the 12th day in a row this average has decreased.

Even though that average is below 40 for the first time since June 23, Austin Public Health said the area would stay in stage 4 of its risk-based guidelines, the second-highest level. It has said the area could move to stage 3, with fewer restrictions, if that average went below 40.  

Local officials adjust restrictions based on hospitalizations and other factors like doubling time and ICU and ventilator capacity.  

"At this time, ICU capacity is still very limited, and APH needs to ensure that we do not reach capacity in the ICUs," APH said in a statement. "This capacity continues to limit the availability of surgeries to manage serious medical conditions. It is essential that the public maintains the level of social distancing, staying at home, and mask-wearing that they have been for the past few weeks."

Texas State asks students to quarantine before returning to campus

Texas State University is asking students to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus for the fall semester.

This request is in addition to the health and safety measures the university already has in place. In-person classes resume Aug. 24 and will be limited to 50% capacity.  

UT Austin made a similar announcement Wednesday.

Escott warns against allowing fans in the stadium for UT football games

"Let's stick to watching football on TV this Fall," Austin Public Health's top doctor said in a tweet this morning, referencing UT's plans to allow fans at the stadium when the season starts.

On Wednesday, interim President Jay Hartzell said UT is looking into limiting capacity at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium to 25%. Earlier this month, the university said football games would continue this fall with 50% capacity. The stadium can hold 100,000 fans.

"The challenge with UT Football at 25% capacity...if the prevalence of disease on game day is similar to today, with 25,000 fans we can expect more than 100 of those fans to be COVID-19 positive...and then it multiplies," Dr. Mark Escott tweeted.

More than 76,000 Texans applied for unemployment benefits last week

New numbers out this morning show 76,109 Texans applied for unemployment benefits last week – about 11,800 fewer than the week before.

Since mid-March, when the coronavirus pandemic started hitting the state's economy hard, 3.3 million Texans have applied for first-time unemployment benefits. 

The Labor Department reported another 1.4 million people nationwide filed for state unemployment last week, an increase of 12,000. It was the second week in a row of increased unemployment filings.

The economic figures come a day after the country marked 150,000 lives lost now due to the coronavirus.

Round Rock ISD holds virtual town halls on the upcoming school year

The Round Rock Independent School District has started holding a series of virtual town halls to prepare parents and students for what remote and in-person classes will look like this coming semester. 

During a town hall on elementary schools earlier this week, the district said students will wear masks and social distance within classrooms. Students will also use Schoology, a virtual learning system, so that if COVID-19 cases spike and local or state orders change, they can transition from in-person to at-home classes.

A second meeting tonight at 5:30 will focus on middle and high school campuses. The last one Monday at 5:30 p.m. will center on special education. Recordings of previous town halls and information on where to find the upcoming ones can be found here.

— Allyson Ortegon

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

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