We'll be updating this story throughout the day Friday with the latest local news on the coronavirus pandemic. If you'd like to go through a roundup of COVID-19 news from Thursday, read it here. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.
- Do you think you have the coronavirus? Here's how to get tested.
- How to get help (and help) in Austin
- Get help 24/7 through the state's free mental health hotline: 833-986-1919
- Track the spread in Texas
- Sign up for coronavirus email alerts
Update at 3:30 p.m. – Abbott unveils plan to reopen businesses, but says school buildings will remain closed
Gov. Greg Abbott outlined a plan Friday to gradually reopen aspects of the state's economy, saying he had convened a "strike force" to advise him on next steps.
At a news conference, he announced an executive order that allows businesses to offer "retail-to-go" services beginning next week and loosened restrictions on surgeries.
Abbott said state parks could reopen Monday, but that visitors should wear face coverings and maintain 6 feet of physical distancing. At the same time, however, he said school buildings will remain closed through the end of the school year.
Update at 10:02 a.m. – Adler says area needs more testing before deciding if COVID-19 rules can be relaxed
Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to talk Friday about loosening restrictions on public interaction in the state, a step toward opening more businesses. Mayor Steve Adler says there need to be more testing kits before that can happen.
As of last Friday, about 6,000 people in Travis County had been tested for COVID-19. Right now, if a person has symptoms, it's unclear whether they'll be able to get a test, Adler said. The person also needs to have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive to get a test, and priority is given to health care workers and other first-responders.
Testing, the mayor said, is a big factor in deciding whether to begin unraveling all the public health restrictions.
"We have to have a better idea of how far the virus has spread in our community right now and we also have to then have the capacity to be able to monitor how the virus is spreading or returning to the community," Adler said. "And we don’t have that capacity."
Adler said he expects the area will be getting more test kits in the next couple of weeks. And with that, he says, we should be able to expand the criteria for who gets tested.
– Audrey McGlinchy
Update at 7:40 a.m. — Austin ISD spring registration for 2020-2021 school year moves online
The Austin Independent School District says spring registration for elementary schools for the 2020-2021 school year is happening online – instead of on campuses – because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parents enrolling a new student will need to create a "Parent Cloud" account at My.AustinISD.org to upload all necessary documents. For questions, parents can contact their student's school or call 512-414-9187.
Update at 7:13 a.m. — Free diapers will be distributed this morning in Austin
Austin Diaper Bank is giving out diapers this morning from 9:30 until 11 a.m. at its warehouse at 8711 Burnet Rd. Families are asked to arrive before 11 to pick up diapers size 1 to 6 through the drive-up service.
If you're not able to go during the specified time, you can also find diapers at one of the food pantries listed at AustinDiapers.org. The diaper bank will also be distributing diapers next Friday at the same time.
If you need diapers you can go to one of the food pantries listed below or to our Diaper Pick-Up Day for Families each Friday in
You can also donate diapers to the bank each Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Update at 4:45 a.m. — Manor ISD suspends meal and technology distribution
Manor Independent School District is halting its meal, academic packet and technology distributions starting Friday until further notice, after two food service employees tested positive for COVID-19, the district announced in a letter. A third possible diagnosis is awaiting results.
The district says it's suspending the distributions “out of an abundance of caution.”
The employees who tested positive were last distributing curbside meals April 9 at Manor New Tech High School, which has since closed. The district is asking parents who picked up food there last week to keep monitoring for flu-like symptoms and call a medical professional if they develop them.
Superintendent Royce Avery said in the letter that the district is reevaluating its distribution protocols and will share more information with the community soon.
“We know that many of our MISD families depend on these services and are making our best efforts to continue to provide these supports,” Avery said.
Catch up on what happened yesterday
More than 1.2 million Texans have applied for unemployment benefits
New numbers out Thursday morning showed about 273,500 Texans filed unemployment claims last week.
That's down by about 41,600 from the week before – but the number of Texans filing for unemployment is still way above normal as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Overall, more than 1.2 million Texans have applied for unemployment benefits in the past month or so.
The Texas Workforce Commission says that's normally the number of claims filed in a year and a half. The TWC has increased its call center and server capacity in response to criticism about its slow response time to applications.
Other local coronavirus news from Thursday:
- A group of city and county officials and nonprofits has started a food distribution program, "Eating Apart Together," for people experiencing homelessness during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Roughly 100 protesters gathered outside the Texas governor’s mansion Thursday afternoon to protest the statewide shutdown of nonessential businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Another Capital Metro bus driver has tested positive for COVID-19. The transit agency now has eight employees who have tested positive for the disease.
- People looking to exercise outdoors near the Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Bike Trail will have a little more space for walking and biking. The Austin Transportation Department will close a portion of Riverside Drive from Lee Barton Drive to South First Street to motor vehicle traffic beginning Friday.
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