COVID-19 Live Updates: Second APD Employee Tests Positive, CapMetro Begins Fare-Free Rides

4 hours ago

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

Update at 6 a.m. — Capital Metro begins fare-free rides

Capital Metro has eliminated fares for the month of April starting Wednesday. The goal of the change is to reduce crowding at fareboxes as people enter the vehicles.

The agency says it will revisit the change at the end of the month to evaluate whether or not it needs to keep rides fare-free.

Passengers must now board through the rear door and keep a safe distance between themselves and others.

The agency says people should only use CapMetro for essential services, like going to essential jobs or picking up groceries or medication. Ridership has dropped 68.5%, according to figures from Monday. The agency has also reduced service during this time.

Update at 5:15 a.m. — Another APD employee tests positive for COVID-19

A second Austin Police Department employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The department said of the two, one is a sworn-in employee and the other is not. 

Both are quarantining at their homes, APD says, and other employees that may have been in contact with them have been notified.

“The health and safety of our employees and the community is of the utmost importance and we are continuing to exercise all precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19,” APD wrote in a statement. “We would like to remind the public to stay home and work safe.”

Catch up on what happened yesterday

Abbott orders statewide limits on nonessential activity, keeps schools closed until May

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order Tuesday requiring Texans to limit personal interactions that could lead to the spread of COVID-19. The order states schools will remain closed until at least May 4.

Abbott said people can still leave their homes to access essentials, like groceries or medicine, and go outside for exercise. Essential services will keep running, he said, and people who work for nonessential businesses can work from home. The order lasts until April 30.

Abbott refused to call the mandate a shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order, saying he doesn’t think those terms accurately reflect what this strategy really means.

Any law enforcement officer can enforce the order; violations are punishable by a fine or jail time of up to 180 days, he said.

Other coronavirus news from Tuesday:

  • City and county officials have set aside hotel rooms and the Austin Sobering Center to quarantine or isolate homeless Austinites who have or present symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
  • Seventy young adults are being investigated for COVID-19 exposure after taking a chartered plane to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, for spring break roughly 10 days ago, Austin Public Health says. Of those 70, 28 have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has temporarily halted a lower court ruling that stopped a ban on abortions in Texas during the coronavirus outbreak.

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