This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Thursday, Oct. 8. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.
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Travis County sees 78 new cases and one more death
Austin Public Health reported 78 new cases of COVID-19 in Travis County on Thursday, up from 45 reported Wednesday. The seven-day average of daily new cases is 71. One more death was reported, bringing the county’s death total to 437.
There are now 80 people reported to be hospitalized with the virus in the five-county region (Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell), one more than yesterday. APH reported a total of 15 new COVID-19 hospital admissions in the region Thursday. The seven-day average of new admissions is 13, the same as yesterday.
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.
Grant program opens for social service nonprofits in Travis County
Nonprofit social service agencies that have been hammered by the pandemic are being thrown a lifeline by the Travis County government.
The new program TCTX Serve is modeled on TCTX Thrive, a county program that gave emergency financial assistance to small businesses using coronavirus relief money from the federal government.
TCTX Serve aims to do the same for nonprofits in Travis County, especially those that provide social services in ZIP codes most vulnerable to COVID-19 and its impacts. Those social service nonprofits can apply for grants of up to $50,000.
If there are more eligible nonprofits than there is money to give them, Travis County will use a lottery system to determine who gets the grants. Right now, the county has an estimated $560,000 for TCTX Serve. But county staff say they’re going to keep an eye on their other coronavirus relief programs to see if any of that money gets freed up and could be used to help social service nonprofits.
Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Oct. 16. Eligibility will be determined by the end of the month. And then the commissioners court could give final approval sometime in November.
Travis County's total case count surpasses 30,000
Travis County’s cumulative COVID-19 case count passed the 30,000 mark Thursday evening. Since March, Austin Public Health has reported 30,075 cases of the coronavirus in the county.
The daily new case counts and hospitalizations in Travis County have been trending downward. APH has been reporting an average of 71 cases per day over the last week. In July, that average rose above 500.
In the five-county Austin metro area, there are 80 people reported to be hospitalized with the virus as of Thursday evening. Back in mid-July, that number neared 500.
Local health officials attribute the decline to mask wearing and social distancing, practices they urge residents to continue.
The positivity rate — the percentage of tests administered that come back positive — is now below 4%, according to the latest data from the end of September. There are still disparities among demographic groups, though. The positivity rate is 7.3% among Hispanic or Latino residents, compared to 3.1% among white residents.
Pflugerville testing site expands hours
Austin Public Health and the Texas Department of Emergency Management have updated the hours of Pflugerville’s coronavirus testing site to allow for more flexibility during the afternoons.
The new schedule is Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. COVID-19 testing is also available Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. You can find more information on testing on the city's website.
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