This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Wednesday, Aug. 26. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.
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Austin Public Health reports 100 new cases and five more deaths
Austin Public Health reported 100 new cases of COVID-19 in Travis County on Wednesday, down from 127 the day before. The seven-day average of daily new cases is 151. Five more deaths were reported, bringing the total in the county to 371.
There are 158 people reported hospitalized with the virus in the five-county region (Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell), 13 fewer than yesterday. Despite the net decline, APH reported 13 new COVID-19 hospital admissions in the region Wednesday. The seven-day average of new admissions is 20, down from 21.
Local officials use that average and other metrics to make recommendations about safety guidelines. Austin-Travis County moved from stage 4 to stage 3 of APH’s risk-based guidelines Tuesday as cases level off and hospitalizations decline. Officials are still encouraging people to avoid social gatherings and groups of more than 10 people.
To help local businesses, Georgetown is letting shops and restaurants expand outdoors
Georgetown is expanding outdoor seating and retail services in its downtown to give people more chances to dine and shop during the COVID-19 pandemic. The expansion also aims to support local businesses while many are facing economic hardship.
To participate in the program, downtown businesses can apply to use parts of the sidewalks and streets in their storefronts for dining or to display products.
“The new initiative is designed to help facilitate the physical distancing of patrons to comply with the current health orders and draw people to downtown to support establishments by shopping and eating locally,” the city said in a press release after the City Council approved the program on Tuesday.
The extended outdoor seating and retail service begins Labor Day weekend. The city says visitors should still keep 6 feet of distance between themselves and others and wear a mask unless eating or drinking.
Austin ISD introduces app to keep families up-to-date with school news
Austin Independent School District is launching an app to help families navigate the school year during the COVID-19 pandemic. The district says the free Austin ISD Mobile App features real-time district news, campus updates, district calendars and other resources.
Parents, students and staff members can use the app to get notifications about their specific campus. It also includes a COVID-19 self-screening process, which students, staff and visitors can use to evaluate if they have symptoms before leaving home for school or work.
"We have even more robust customization options coming down the pipeline that will include quick access to grades, assignments, and ability for families to contact teachers,” Brenda Richmond, the district’s director of management information systems, said in a press release. “In January, the app will contain a brand new mobile-friendly student registration feature."
People can download the app from the digital store on their mobile device.
Fall semester begins at UT Austin
UT Austin students start fall semester classes on Wednesday. The university is offering a mix of online, in-person and hybrid courses.
UT says it will administer more than 5,000 COVID-19 tests weekly, including testing students, faculty and staff who are asymptomatic. University officials encourage everyone to screen themselves daily for symptoms by using UT's Protect Texas Together app.
Face coverings are required when inside any UT building unless people are eating or drinking or are alone in a private office or dorm room. Personal hygiene products and sanitizing stations have been placed throughout campus. The university says it'll disinfect common areas frequently and provide employees with personal protective equipment.
In-person classes have been expanded throughout the day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and classroom capacity will be capped at 40% to adhere to social distancing guidelines. The number of undergraduate students living on-campus has been reduced to about 4,500 out of a capacity of 7,300. Dining halls are offering contactless service and packaging all meals in to-go containers.
— Dani Matias
Pflugerville reopens some park and library spaces this week
The City of Pflugerville will reopen some library and park areas on Friday as Austin-Travis County loosens some restrictions due to a plateau in coronavirus cases.
Lake Pflugerville Park, athletic fields, outdoor basketball courts and volleyball courts will reopen to the public.
Pflugerville’s public library courtyard will also reopen. All other areas are still closed. Read more about the city's reopening plan at PflugervilleTX.gov.
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