This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Friday, July 31. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.
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Average of new hospitalizations in Austin area drops for 13th straight day
Austin Public Health reported 280 new cases of COVID-19 in Travis County on Friday, two more than yesterday. Eight more people have died from the disease, according to APH, bringing the county’s death total to 274.
There are currently 338 people hospitalized with the virus in the five-county region (Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell), 17 fewer than yesterday. There were 32 new COVID-19 hospital admissions Friday, 14 fewer than yesterday. The seven-day average of new hospital admissions is now 37.7, down from 39.9. This is the 13th day in a row this average has decreased.
Even though that average is below 40, 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 the average went below 40.
Local officials adjust restrictions based on hospitalizations and other factors like doubling time and ICU and ventilator capacity.
Bull Creek and Barton Creek greenbelts to reopen with reduced capacity Aug. 8
After consulting with health officials, Austin's Parks and Recreation Department announced Friday it would reopen Bull Creek Greenbelt and Barton Creek Greenbelt on Aug. 8.
Visitors must make a reservation first as part of a pilot program designed to alleviate environmental and community impacts. The program is expected to last five months. Reservations are free and can be made online or by calling 512-974-6797 starting tomorrow.
Hays County to host a drive-thru BBQ event this Sunday for families in need
Hays County law enforcement received a grant to provide free meals to the community this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Officers and deputies from multiple agencies will be handing out approximately 1,200 BBQ plates at the North Hays Optimist Fields, 2880 Goforth Road in Kyle. This is a drive-thru event, and masks are required.
Three other events in other parts of the county are in the works.
Free walk-up testing available in Del Valle and Pflugerville starting Monday
Austin Public Health, in partnership with the Texas Military Department and Texas Division of Emergency Management, is offering free walk-up coronavirus testing in Del Valle and Pflugerville starting Monday.
Austin Public Health says there’s no need for an appointment, doctor’s referral or insurance.
Testing is available daily at Del Valle Middle School, 5500 Ross Dr., from Aug. 6 through Aug. 16, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Testing is available in Pflugerville at the Pfield, 1440 W. Pecan St., from Aug. 3 through Aug. 8, from 8 a.m. until noon or until they run out of test kits.
Hays County preparing cash assistance program for local businesses
Hays County is setting up a new Emergency Cash Assistance Program to help businesses that might not qualify for federal grants. The program is aimed at aiding small businesses in the county that are struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
PeopleFund is managing the application process. Gustavo Lasala, its president and CEO, said he’s found that outside major urban centers in Texas, it can be hard to get financial assistance.
“About 20% of businesses were not qualifying or were not getting help from federal sources,” Lasala said.
The program will provide a total of $600,000 in grants. Applications open Aug. 10. More information can be found here.
— Riane Roldan
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