We'll be updating this story throughout the day Thursday with the latest local news on the coronavirus pandemic. If you'd like to go through a roundup of COVID-19 news from Wednesday, read it here. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.
- Confirmed cases in Austin-Travis County: 305
- Confirmed deaths in Austin-Travis County: 3
- Do you think you have the coronavirus? Here's how to get tested.
- Q&A: Your coronavirus questions answered by a panel of experts
- How to get help (and help) in Austin
- Sign up for daily coronavirus email alerts
Update at 9:15 a.m. — Texas unemployment claims are way up — again
More than 275,000 Texans filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, according to new numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor.
That was up from more than 155,000 the week ending March 21, as the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic began to take hold. It’s likely the numbers will continue to grow as the crisis goes on.
The state’s unemployment benefits system has been clogged with people trying to apply. There are reports of long delays, endless busy signals and web site errors as laid off and furloughed workers scramble to get through to apply. The Texas Workforce Commission says it's adding more staff and capacity to handle the crush of filers — but so far, the system is still overwhelmed.
Nationwide, 6.6 million people filed initial unemployment claims last week — doubling the record-obliterating number from the previous week.
Update at 5:19 a.m. — Health officials continue to urge people to stay home after Austin-area patient in 20s is in critical condition
A person in their 20s is in critical condition at a local hospital due to COVID-19, health officials say.
Dr. Mark Escott, the interim health authority for Austin-Travis County, said people need to stay home to reduce the risk of spreading the disease.
“It is important to understand that young people are not immune from serious illness,” Escott said in a statement. “We implore the community to stay at home even if you are not feeling ill, and before leaving your house ask yourself ‘Is this trip necessary?’ It is the entire community’s responsibility to stop the spread, including our young adults and teens.”
He said even people with mild symptoms can play a significant role in spreading the disease.
Catch up on what happened yesterday
School districts and higher education adjust amid COVID-19
The Austin Independent School District will stay closed until at least May 4 after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statewide order Tuesday extending school closures until then.
Round Rock ISD, Leander ISD, Pflugerville ISD and other Central Texas school districts have also extended closures until May 4 after the governor's announcement.
Leander ISD’s Board of Trustees approved a resolution Monday night saying all grades will be recorded as either a pass or incomplete for students in all grade levels during this spring semester. Students' grade-point averages will not be calculated this semester. Instead, a student's GPA will be based on last semester's average.
Austin Community College, too, says students can opt for a pass/no pass grade instead of a standard letter grade for any of their current spring semester classes. The college says the goal is to “ease concerns around the transition to online classes.”
UT Austin said its summer classes will be held online this year due to the pandemic. Students are currently finishing their spring semester remotely. Many hoped to return to in-person classes by the summer session, but President Greg Fenves said Wednesday that won’t be possible to do safely.
Other local coronavirus news from Wednesday:
- The board of directors for Sendero Health Plans, a local nonprofit health insurance program, voted to waive all costs to treat members who have COVID-19.
- All parks managed by Travis County will close from Thursday, April 9, at 8 p.m. through the Easter weekend, the county said, in response to concerrns of the spread of the coronavirus.
- The governor and attorney general released some guidance for how houses of worship should operate during the coronavirus pandemic..
If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support it. Your gift pays for everything you find on KUT.org. Thanks for donating today.