This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Monday, June 22. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.
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Austin Public Health reported 129 new cases of COVID-19 in Travis County on Monday evening, a marked difference from the last three days, which have all set records. The county saw its highest single-day increase in cases – 506 – on Sunday.
Two more deaths were reported Monday, bringing the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in the county to 112.
The health authority also reported 21 new coronavirus hospital admissions in the five-county region (Travis, Hays, Williamson, Bastrop and Caldwell). There are currently 181 people hospitalized with the coronavirus in this area.
The seven-day average of new admissions is now at 27.7, up from 25.7. Local officials worry about patients overwhelming the local health care system, so they’re keeping an eye on that number and adjusting risk and precautions based on it.
The area is in stage 4 of APH’s risk-based guidelines, meaning higher risk individuals (people over 65 and those with underlying conditions) should avoid gatherings of more than two people and stay home unless absolutely necessary. Lower risk individuals should avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.
Stage 5, the highest risk level, would be triggered if the hospitalization average rises above 70. If the average falls below 20, the area will move down to stage 3.
Fourth Austin bar gets alcohol permit suspended
Soho Lounge got its alcohol permit suspended for 30 days for failing to follow COVID-19 protocols, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission announced Monday. This is the fourth Austin bar to have its permit suspended since Saturday.
TABC agents began inspecting businesses across Texas over the weekend to see if they’re complying with health and safety requirements: indoor capacity is limited to 50% for bars and 75% for restaurants, and groups of customers are supposed to stay 6 feet apart.
So far, 17 bars and restaurants in Texas have gotten their permits suspended for 30 days, including UnBARlieveable, Buford’s Backyard Beer Garden and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Icehouse.
Virtual panel to discuss accessing resources amid COVID-19
Austin Public Health is hosting virtual panels next Saturday to discuss how to access services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Panelists will talk about resources available in the Austin-Travis County area, including COVID-19 testing, rent and utility assistance, food assistance, health care, mental health care and substance use disorder resources.
Capital Metro plans for both a recession and a recovery
Ridership is slowly recovering on Capital Metro services, but the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic remains.
Sales tax revenue was down less than expected in April, but it still dropped by 19.6%. Projections are that it may not recover to pre-pandemic levels until next year at the earliest. Sales tax provides the bulk of the agency’s revenues, unlike some larger transit systems across the country.
Capital Metro staff are drafting two budgets for fiscal year 2021: a recession budget that keeps spending flat and a recovery budget.
“We will be as flexible as needed in order to be financially sustainable while taking care of our employees and our customers,” said Reinet Marneweck, chief financial officer for Capital Metro. “Should the economy recover in fiscal 2021, we will come back to the board and ask for additional spending.”
Currently, there won’t be raises for Capital Metro employees, but leaders intend to change that once the economy improves. A number of projects will be put on hold, including a plan to convert more MetroExpress commuter buses from diesel to electric.
There is no fare increase planned either, due to the state of the economy. Capital Metro resumed collecting fares June 1, after suspending them during April and May.
The final budget proposal is expected in August.
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