This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Thursday, Sept. 10. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.
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More than 200 new cases reported in Travis County
Austin Public Health reported 218 new cases of COVID-19 in Travis County on Thursday, up from 82 reported yesterday. The seven-day average of daily new cases is now 100, up from 83. Three more deaths were reported, bringing the county’s death total to 402.
There are now 92 people reported to be hospitalized with the virus in the five-county region (Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell), seven fewer than yesterday. Despite that net decrease, APH reported 21 new COVID-19 hospital admissions in the region on Thursday. The seven-day average of new admissions is 17.1, down from 17.9.
The area is in stage 3 of APH’s risk-based guidelines. At this level, people are encouraged to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.
Paramount Theatre reopens Friday with COVID-19 protocols
The Paramount Theatre is reopening Friday, after being closed for six months. Health and safety protocols will be in place, such as limiting capacity to 25% and requiring staff and patrons over age 10 to wear masks.
The theater is also implementing a socially distanced seating arrangement and touchless ticketing and concessions. There will be temperature checks and staggered arrival times, and theaters will be sanitized before each film.
The reopening kicks off with the 45th annual Paramount Classic Film Series, featuring showings of Casablanca, The Goonies, A League of Their Own and more. More information can be found here.
Lyft to offer free rides to people seeking employment
The ride-hailing company is bringing its program that provides free or discounted rides to people who are unemployed or underemployed to Austin.
Lyft will work with Goodwill and United Way to distribute ride credits to people looking for work. Austin is one of 20 cities in the country where Lyft is expanding the Jobs Access program in response to the ongoing unemployment that’s resulted from COVID-19.
“We know that for the unemployed and underemployed, reliable transportation to a job interview or the first few weeks of work can mean the difference between successful, long-term employment and lost opportunities,” Lisa Boyd, director of social impact at Lyft, said in a press release. “The current unemployment crisis has stressed the need to support our communities, now more than ever.”
More than 66,000 Texans filed for unemployment benefits last week
New numbers released by the Labor Department this morning show 66,330 Texans applied for unemployment benefits last week – about 9,650 more claims than the week before. The new figures come out as the additional $300 per week for pandemic relief expires. People will receive only regular state unemployment insurance now.
Since mid-March, when the coronavirus pandemic started hitting the Texas economy hard, just about 3.6 million Texans have applied for first-time unemployment benefits.
Nationwide, the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week was unchanged at 884,000.
UT Austin reports three COVID-19 clusters in West Campus
UT Austin is reporting three COVID-19 clusters with a total of about 100 positive cases in the West Campus area. UT said the individuals in those clusters are currently isolating and receiving medical help.
University officials said UT Health Austin and Austin Public Health are conducting contact tracing to identify other potential exposures.
"This is defined as someone who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated," according to UT.
The university has not released the location of the clusters, citing federal and state law.
Personal protective equipment distributed today in Pflugerville
Austin Public Health, CommUnityCare and Central Health are hosting a series of events over the next few weeks to distribute free PPE kits in COVID-19 hotspots — areas with high COVID-19 positivity rates.
The kits include cloth masks, hand sanitizer and educational materials. The next event is today at Pflugerville Pfield, 1440 W. Pecan St., from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
For a complete list of distribution events, you can visit austintexas.gov/ppe.
Bullock Museum reopening this weekend
The Bullock Texas State History Museum is reopening to the public Saturday.
Museum organizers are implementing changes designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including limiting how many people can enter the museum each hour, requiring masks for everyone age 10 and older, and frequently sanitizing high-touch areas.
Hours will be limited to Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum reopened its IMAX theater last week for limited screenings.
Texas State looks for additional space to quarantine students on campus
Texas State University has announced it will begin searching for space in university-owned facilities to house students diagnosed with COVID-19.
Dr. Emilio Carranco, the university’s chief medical officer, said while the school is seeing positive COVID-19 cases scattered across several residence halls, there's no evidence of significant transmission or outbreaks. But just in case, the university, which is three weeks into the semester, will no longer allow residents to have visitors in their rooms.
The university is also providing accommodations on empty floors in designated residence halls for students who need to quarantine. University-owned apartments will also be used for those who test positive and have to self-isolate. This follows federal guidance that recommends university students not go home for isolation or quarantine.
The university reported 71 positive student cases during the first week of classes and 84 cases the second week. Carranco says compliance with health and safety measures has been good overall.
— Riane Roldan
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