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.  

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. 

The Texas Capitol Building in downtown Austin during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

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.

Planned Parenthood office
Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has temporarily halted a lower court ruling that stopped Texas officials from banning abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.

Austin Public Health says, along with UT Health and University Health Services, it's investigating 70 people who chartered a plane to Mexico for spring break. Twenty-eight have tested positive for COVID-19.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

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, and dozens are under investigation by the public health authority; four had no symptoms.

Many businesses have been shut down during the pandemic, forcing layoffs and furloughs of thousands of workers.
Julia Reihs / KUT

When Brian Biehl found out Wednesday that he’d been furloughed from his job at a company that makes software for restaurants in Austin, the first thing he did was take his dog for a walk.

“You know, [to] kind of assess the situation,” he said.

An abortion clinic
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Click here to read in English. 

Un juez federal ha bloqueado temporalmente la prohibición de abortos en Texas durante la pandemia del coronavirus en el estado. 

El juez de la Corte de Distrito Lee Yeakel en Austin dictaminó el lunes que empleados del estado no pueden impedir que proveedores de aborto le ofrezcan el servicio a sus pacientes. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

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.

The Fairmont hotel displayed a heart on its facade during the coronavirus pandemic on March 23.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Tuesday, March 31. Read Wednesday's live updates here.

A for-rent sign in Austin
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

More than half of Austin residents are renters. At the beginning of each month, rent is due for tenants with cut hours, cut wages or no wages at all as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced workplaces to close.

A construction worker at a building site at Trinity and Cesar Chavez in downtown Austin on March 23, 2020.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Click here to read this story in English. 

Cuando la ciudad de Austin emitió la orden de quedarse en casa la semana pasada, no estaba claro cuáles eran las implicaciones para el sector de la construcción. Algunas personas estaban confundidas, y muchos trabajadores continuaron iendo a sus trabajos. Pero, ¿pueden los constructores seguir construyendo? 

No - con algunas excepciones. 

An examination table at a clinic.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A federal judge has temporarily blocked Texas’ ban on abortions during the coronavirus pandemic in the state.

U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin ruled Monday that state officials can't restrict abortion providers from offering the procedure to their patients.

A construction worker at a building site at Trinity and Cesar Chavez in downtown Austin on March 23, 2020.
Julia Reihs / KUT

When Austin issued its stay-at-home order last week, it was kind of vague about construction. Some people were confused, and plenty of builders stayed on the job. So, can builders keep building?

No – with some exceptions.

An Austin Public Health sign explains ways to prevent the spread of disease.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin Public Health announced Monday that its new nursing home task force is setting up sites to house nursing home residents who test positive for COVID-19. The city says these isolation facilities will give COVID-19 patients who don’t need hospitalization a safe place to recover while staying away from other nursing home residents and staff.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Click here to read this story in English. 

Cada día oímos cifras actualizadas sobre el COVID-19: el número de casos confirmados. El número de personas hospitalizadas. El número de personas que han muerto. Sabemos que las cifras están aumentando y esperamos que lo sigan haciendo. Pero aparte de eso, puede ser difícil entender lo que estos datos nos pueden enseñar acerca de la propagación de la enfermedad y si estamos progresando en la lucha contra ella. 

Dr. Jaime Jones is an emergency medicine physician at a major Austin hospital.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Austin-Travis County has confirmed 200 cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday night. One person in the area, a woman in her 70s, has died from the illness. The city is far from the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S.; places like New York City and New Orleans are reporting hospitals being overwhelmed.

But public health experts are warning that Austin could face similar problems unless residents limit their contact with others.

Caution tape is placed over tables at Mueller Lake Park. The city has closed park amenities in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Monday, March 30. Read Tuesday's live updates here. If you'd like to go through a roundup of COVID-19 news from the weekend, read it here. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Every day, we hear updated COVID-19 numbers: The number of confirmed cases. The number of people hospitalized. The number of people who have died. We know the numbers are going up, and we expect them to continue to rise. But beyond that, it can be difficult to understand what they teach us about the spread of the disease and whether we’re making progress against it.

Updated 8:13 p.m. ET

President Trump said on Sunday that federal guidelines urging Americans to social distance to slow the spread of the coronavirus will remain in place for another month and could last until June.

Under the recommendations, the Trump administration is imploring people to avoid restaurants, bars and other situations involving more than 10 people and restrict traveling to trips deemed essential.

Gov. Greg Abbott speaks to the media at a press conference about COVID-19  on Feb. 27.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday ratcheted up travel restrictions into Texas during the new coronavirus pandemic, while announcing the state's first pop-up hospital to deal with the crisis. He also said he was moving to "stop the release of dangerous felons" amid the outbreak.

A Capital Metro bus displays a public health message during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gabriel Pérez / KUT

This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Sunday, March 29. Read Monday's live updates here. If you'd like to go through a roundup of COVID-19 news from Friday, read it here. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.

After a slow start, testing for COVID-19 has begun to ramp up in recent weeks. Giant commercial labs have jumped into the effort, drive-up testing sites have been established in some places, and new types of tests have been approved under emergency rules set by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Salvation Army shelter in downtown Austin.
Julia Reihs / KUT

A person staying at its downtown homeless shelter tested positive for COVID-19, Austin Salvation Army said Friday.

The person was sharing a living space with 19 other people, but has been transferred from the shelter to a local hotel.

The Fairmont Hotel is lit up with ATX inside a heart.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin Mayor Steve Adler commended Austinites this week for their work in physical distancing and cutting daily interactions by 50%. New models from UT Austin suggest we’ll need to cut those interactions even more – to 90% – to keep our health care system from being overloaded.

Adler joined KUT’s Jimmy Maas for All Things Considered to talk about getting those interactions down and slowing the spread of the coronavirus. 

Miguel Gutierrez for KUT

La venta de armas puede continuar incluso cuando ciudades y condados están cerrando negocios no esenciales en vista del COVID-19, dijo el fiscal general de Texas Ken Paxton. 

En una opinion emitida el viernes, Paxton dijo que a pesar de que la declaración de desastre del gobernador Greg Abbott le da poderes a las ciudades y condados para restringir algunas actividades, las leyes estatales no permiten la restricción de las ventas de armas. 

A hearse is parked outside Mission Funeral Home. Funeral homes in Austin must comply with local and statewide orders that limit how many people can gather during the coronavirus pandemic.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Click here to read this story in English. 

Terry Shockley recuerda a su madre, Patsy Hopper, como una persona fuerte. 

"Ella tenía que serlo," dijo Shockley. "Eventualmente tuvo cuatro hijos. Éramos una familia militar, así que nos mudamos bastante. Ella tuvo que empacar muchas veces, tener mucha organización, mucha disciplina. Mi papá estaba ocupado con su carrera. Ella era fuerte."

A Planned Parenthood office in Austin with a mural of a woman holding a globe on the side of it.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Officials at Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas say they have canceled 261 abortions since Tuesday, after the state effectively banned the procedure.

Miguel Gutierrez for KUT

Gun sales can continue even as cities and counties curb nonessential business in light of COVID-19, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said.

An eviction notice is posted on a home in Southwest Austin in 2018.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Click here to read this story in English. 

Los inquilinos de Austin que hayan sido afectados por las consecuencias financieras del COVID-19 tienen 60 días para pagar la renta atrasada una vez que sus caseros comienzan a amenazarlos con desalojo. 

Projections from a UT-Austin study finds Central Texans need to reduce social contact by 90% to avoid overloading hospitals.
UT-Austin

Click here to read this story in English. 

Un nuevo reporte de la Universidad de Texas indica que si todos los residentes de Austin reducen sus contactos con otros seres humanos en un 90%, los hospitales de la ciudad podrán ser capaces de tratar a todos los que se enfermen. 

A health care worker at Austin Regional Clinic during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

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.

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