COVID-19 Live Updates: Austin To Announce 'Shelter-In-Place' Order; Gov. Abbott To Give State Update

3 hours ago

We'll be updating this story throughout the day Tuesday with the latest local news on the coronavirus pandemic. If you'd like to go through a roundup of COVID-19 news from Monday, read it here. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.

Update at 8:43 a.m. — Bastrop County opens COVID-19 testing site

At 2 p.m. today, a COVID-19 testing site will open in Bastrop County, the county’s Office of Emergency Management announced in a Facebook post.

You need to go through a screening process with a health care provider in order to get an appointment to be tested.

“The CDC has stated that only those with symptoms may be tested,” Bastrop OEM said in the post. “There are not enough test kits or personnel for those without symptoms to be tested.”

If you feel sick or are experiencing symptoms, the county asks that you call your health care provider for a screening and possible appointment. If you do not have a provider, you can call the Ascension COVID-19 Medical Hotline at 833-978-0649. If you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms, call 911 or call ahead to an emergency room so personnel can prepare for your arrival.

Bastrop County officials say they'll set up another location to house first responders who have been exposed to the virus or become ill. The first responders can stay there until they're no longer contagious. 

A separate patient monitoring center is also in the works for people who've tested positive for the virus and should not return home. Bastrop County has reported one positive case of COVID-19 so far.

Update at 6:30 a.m. — Travis County Commissioners Court goes virtual 

The Travis County Commissioners Court will hold their regularly scheduled voting session today over video to practice social distancing. County Commissionrs will join via Skype while Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt serves as presiding officer in the Commissioners Court. 

The public can watch online or on public access TV channel 17. They can also provide comment on any agenda item by calling (866) 393-8739 and entering the Meeting ID: 149-100-895.

"As we continue to adjust our daily lives for COVID-19, it is imperative we also adjust your local government," said Hector Nieto, Travis County public information officer. "Going virtually ensures that everyone has access to their local government, all the while being able to protect the health and safety of the public and the public servants." 

The virtual meeting starts at 9 a.m. 

Update at 6 a.m. — Gov. Abbott to provide another update 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will give an update on COVID-19 in the state on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. 

During his last update Sunday, he announced he was signing orders to help expand hospital capacity across Texas. The orders directed health care professionals to postpone elective surgeries and allow more than one patient to be treated in the same room. 

He declined to issue a statewide “shelter-in-place” order, noting local officials have the authority to issue stricter standards if they so choose.

Soon after Sunday’s announcement, Dallas County issued a shelter-in-place order. Austin and Travis County are expected to follow suit Tuesday.

Catch up on what happened yesterday

Austin, counties prepare to announce shelter-in-place orders

Stay-at-home orders are expected to be issued in the City of Austin, Travis County and Williamson County on Tuesday in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said. The orders would require all nonessential businesses to have employees work from home and further restrict other gatherings.

Businesses with essential functions – like grocery stores – would be exempt, as would government functions and critical infrastructure. She said the orders could be in place for two to three weeks.

“We have a very short window to really affect COVID-19’s expansion through our community,” Eckhardt said. “The longer we wait, the more acute the spike will be, so we need to act fast in really decreasing the circulation of people in our community.”

Austin Mayor Steve Adler also signaled earlier in the day Monday that such an order would be coming. The city is planning a news conference for Tuesday morning. 

Read more from Samuel King here.

Other local coronavirus news from Tuesday:

  • Austin City Council members will vote Thursday on a measure to essentially stall eviction filings against tenants for two months.
  • Pflugerville is closing pavilions, playscapes; and volleyball, basketball and tennis courts in its city parks.
  • Five new positive cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed by the Williamson County and Cities Health District, bringing the county’s total to 14.
  • Tito’s Handmade Vodka says it’s working on producing hand sanitizer to give away for free to the community and those most in need. 
  • Blanco County has its first confirmed case of COVID-19.