This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Tuesday, Sept. 1. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.
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Travis County sees 47 new cases and no new deaths
Austin Public Health reported 47 new cases of COVID-19 in Travis County on Tuesday, down from 82 reported yesterday. The seven-day average of daily new cases is 78. This is the lowest the average has been since June 9. No new deaths were reported.
There are now 133 people reported hospitalized with the coronavirus in the five-county region (Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell), three fewer than yesterday. Despite that net decrease, APH reported 18 new COVID-19 hospital admissions in the region Tuesday. The seven-day average of new admissions is 17.9, down from 18.4.
The area is in stage 3 of APH’s risk-based guidelines. At this level, people are encouraged to avoid social gatherings and any gatherings greater than 10 people.
Officials warn against large gatherings as Labor Day approaches
Austin Public Health officials are warning residents about planning large celebrations for the Labor Day weekend. COVID-19 cases in Central Texas have dropped significantly over the past two months, prompting the city to lower to stage 3 on its risk chart last week, meaning health officials believe it’s OK for healthy people to do things like eat out and go shopping.
But Austin Public Health’s Dr. Mark Escott told council members Tuesday that residents should stay vigilant – wear masks, social distance and avoid large gatherings.
“We’re not out of the woods, and we could be three weeks away from a bad state again if we relax too much,” he said.
Escott also said he was worried about some schools in the area reopening. More than 25 cases have been linked to schools reopening, many of them tied to athletic activities. The city has not released the names or locations of the schools so far.
— Audrey McGlinchy
Huston-Tillotson begins semester of remote learning
While some colleges and universities in Texas and around the country are offering in-person instruction for the fall semester, Huston-Tillotson University decided on a different learning approach.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Huston-Tillotson is not offering any classes in person this semester. Instead, the university provided all students with tablet computers and some with Wi-Fi hot spots to help ensure fair access to technology while learning from home. The university has also shifted resources online including the Downs-Jones Library, counseling center, tutoring and advising services.
People who are allowed on campus — like essential personnel — are required to wear masks and maintain social distancing. Huston-Tillotson President Colette Pierce Burnette said there are some things the university will gain from this experience to help it become a stronger institution.
“Like some of the software that we purchased for our faculty from virtual lab delivery … to being able to teach music online — those things will be things things that we will continue to use in the curriculum going forward, even when we do have our students return to campus,” she said.
Burnette said the goal is to have students back on campus for the spring semester but university officials are relying on COVID-19 data before making any changes. They plan to make a decision later this year.
— Dani Matias
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