COVID-19

CommUnityCare conducts drive-thru COVID-19 testing at Hancock Center.
Credit Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a coronavirus that was detected at the end of 2019 in Wuhan, China. The virus was first reported in the United States on Jan. 20, and by June had infected nearly 2 million people and led to more than 110,000 deaths in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The World Health Organization announced COVID-19 could be characterized as a pandemic, meaning the disease had spread among multiple countries and continents, on March 11. Many cities, including Austin, took measures to slow the spread of the virus in March, such as cancelling major events like South by Southwest, closing nonessential businesses, issuing stay-at-home orders and urging people to wear face coverings in public.

With many businesses closed, the unemployment rate skyrocketed as millions of Americans lost their jobs. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott took a phased approach to reopening businesses. In May, he began allowing some nonessential businesses to reopen at a fraction of their normal capacity. Business owners have been told to implement social distancing practices, like keeping people 6 feet apart. Health officials also say people should wear face coverings in public, though Abbott said people won’t face repercussions if they don’t.  

COVID-19 isn’t the only disease caused by a coronavirus. Coronaviruses have been known to cause the common cold, as well as more severe diseases like SARS and MERS. The virus that causes COVID-19 is called “SARS-CoV-2.” It’s rare, but animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread from individual to individual, as was the case with this new coronavirus, though the exact source of the virus is still unknown, according to the CDC. 

COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing or talking. Studies have shown that even people who are asymptomatic, meaning they don’t show symptoms, can spread the disease. Illnesses have ranged from being mild to severe. Symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, body aches and fatigue.

The CDC says people can take preventative measures like washing hands frequently, staying at least 6 feet apart from people outside your home, covering your mouth and nose in public and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces. A vaccine or drug is not yet available. 

Nearly 130,000 people in the United States have died from the coronavirus and more than 2,800,000 people have been infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Audrey just turned 18 and relishes crossing into adulthood: She voted for the first time this year, graduated high school and is college-bound next month. The honors student typically wakes up "a bundle of nerves," she says, which had fueled her work volunteering, playing varsity sports and leading student government.

But for years, she also struggled with anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder — all of which drove her to work harder.

The grim news has taken no respite this Fourth of July.

More widespread wearing of face masks could prevent tens of thousands of deaths by COVID-19, epidemiologists and mathematicians project.

A model from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation shows that near-universal wearing of cloth or homemade masks could prevent between 17,742 and 28,030 deaths across the US before Oct. 1.

A sign tells Spanish speakers the city number to call for information on COVID-19.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Our Now What? discussion series, exploring what we need to know about COVID-19 moving forward, continues Wednesday, July 8, with Dr. Jewel Mullen, the associate dean for health equity at the Dell Medical School, and an associate professor in the school’s population health and internal medicine departments.

Attendees of theTexas Republican Convention stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in San Antonio in 2018.
Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

The Texas GOP's executive committee voted Thursday night to proceed with plans to hold the party’s in-person convention in Houston later this month.

People walk along South Congress Avenue wearing masks on Wednesday.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Friday, July 3. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.

People wear face coverings on South Congress Avenue on Wednesday
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Read this story in English.

Las personas en los condados de Texas con más de 20 casos de COVID-19 tendrán que llevar sus rostros cubiertos cuando estén en público a partir del viernes, y quienes no lo hagan podrían ser multados.

People wear face coverings on South Congress Avenue on Wednesday
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

People in Texas counties with more than 20 COVID-19 cases will be required to wear face coverings when in public starting Friday — and those who don’t could be fined.

Hole in the Wall had reopened at 50% capacity but was forced to shut down again after Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order June 26 requiring bars in the state to close.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Travis Tober was finally finding a rhythm. 

When people entered his East Austin bar, Nickel City, they were greeted by an employee who laid out all the ground rules: No mask, no entry. Tables would be 6 feet apart. No loitering at the bar top. A waiter or waitress would take their orders. 

Cars line up at CommUnityCare's drive-thru testing site in Hancock Center on Thursday morning.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

It was a little after 8 a.m. on Monday when Austin resident Emma VanDelinder arrived at a CommUnityCare COVID-19 testing site. But when she drove up, she saw a handwritten sign and realized she was out of luck. Testing was over.

City of Austin volleyball courts, tennis courts and other park amenities will remain closed after the Fourth of July holiday.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Thursday, July 2. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.

A homemade face mask
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Thursday requiring Texans to wear face coverings in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases. But individual jursidictions differ in how they're carrying out face mask requirements. Officials in cities across Williamson County have issued orders with slight variations.

A Capital Metro bus displays a public health message during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Capital Metro launched 35 years ago Wednesday — July 1, 1985. As it marks that anniversary, the agency is facing both its biggest challenge, COVID-19, and its biggest opportunity, Project Connect. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Dell Medical School professor Dr. Rama Thyagarajan, an infectious disease specialist, joined KUT Wednesdeay for a livestreamed discussion about using plasma to treat the coronavirus.

A packed crowd listens to Abhi The Nomad at 2019's ACL Fest.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUTX

Austin City Limits Music Festival has been officially canceled this year, with the festival saying it's "the only responsible solution" given the current COVID-19 situation in Texas.

The organizers of the two-weekend event hope to return to Zilker Park to celebrate the festival's 20th anniversary Oct. 1-3 and Oct. 8-10, 2021. 

Demonstrators protested outside the Capitol and governor's mansion Tuesday calling for the reopening of bars.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Lee esta noticia en español. 

With Travis County on the cusp of exceeding 10,000 total cases of coronavirus, local public health officials are pleading with Austinites to stay home for the Fourth of July holiday and help slow the growth of a disease that has hospitals on track to exceed capacity by mid-July.

A woman wears a face mask and gloves during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Wednesday, July 1. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.

Workers board up bars on Sixth Street in Austin after Gov. Greg Abbott closed bars in Texas for the second time in three months because of the COVID-19 pandemic on June 26.
Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

Several Texas bars and owners filed a $10 million federal lawsuit Tuesday afternoon against Gov. Greg Abbott, in an attempt to void his executive order shutting down bars for a second time since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Reversing Course, Texas Will Delay Work-Search Requirement For Unemployment Benefits

Jun 30, 2020
The Texas Workforce Commission Building in Austin on March 30, 2020.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

The Texas Workforce Commission decided Tuesday to postpone reinstating a work-search requirement for out-of-work Texans receiving unemployment benefits.

Houston Independent School District

For 40 years, Robin Stauffer has taught high school English in seven different school districts in three different states. Most recently, Advanced Placement English in Katy, where she says working with kids has kept her young and lighthearted.

CommUnityCare conducts drive-thru COVID-19 testing in Hancock Center.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Read this story in English.

De cara al fin de semana del 4 de julio, funcionarios de salud dicen que Austin está al borde de un pico de casos de COVID-19 que podría llevar a otro cierre completo de negocios y de la actividad social.

Updated at 1:40 p.m. ET

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, told members of Congress on Tuesday that although he can't predict the ultimate number of infections and deaths related to the coronavirus, "it's going to be very disturbing."

A sign at the entrance to Austin Public Health's drive-thru coronavirus testing site.
Michael Minasi / KUT

This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Tuesday, June 30. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.

All city parks, including Zilker Park (pictured), will be closed over the Fourth of July weekend.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

The City of Austin is closing all parks and recreational facilities over the Fourth of July weekend to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

More Than 30 Texas Bars Sue Over Gov. Greg Abbott's Recent Shutdown Order

Jun 29, 2020
An employee boards up a bar on Sixth Street in Austin after Gov. Greg Abbott closed bars in Texas for the second time in three months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

Hoping to block Gov. Greg Abbott’s Friday decision ordering Texas bars to close due to a rise in coronavirus cases, more than 30 bar owners filed a lawsuit Monday challenging Abbott’s emergency order.

A sign encouraging healthy habits to prevent the spread of disease is posted at UT's student union.
Julia Reihs / KUT

UT Austin students will have the choice of attending classes in person, taking them online or doing a combination when campus reopens in August, the university announced Monday. Residence halls, dining halls, student centers, the union and recreation centers will be open.  

CommUnityCare conducts drive-thru COVID-19 testing in Hancock Center.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

Ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, health officials say Austin is at the precipice of a spike in COVID-19 cases that could lead to another full shutdown of businesses and social activity.

Austin Public Health's drive-thru coronavirus testing site in North Austin.
Michael Minasi / KUT

This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Monday, June 29. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.

Pages