COVID-19

A sign at St. David’s Medical Center tells visitors to alert staff if they've traveled to a region with cases of COVID-19 and have certain respiratory symptom.
Credit Julia Reihs / KUT

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a coronavirus that was first detected at the end of 2019 in Wuhan, China. An outbreak of the disease, which can be deadly, has led to travel restrictions, restaurant and bar closures, quarantines and the cancellation of major events like South by Southwest. 

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can infect both people and animals. They can cause the common cold, as well as more severe diseases like SARS and MERS. COVID-19 is caused by a virus known as “SARS-CoV-2,” which primarily affects animals. It’s rare, but animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread from individual to individual, as is the case with this new coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

COVID-19 is spread mainly from person to person or through contaminated surfaces. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Illnesses have ranged from being mild to severe and in some cases have caused death. The CDC says people can take preventative measures like washing hands frequently, staying home when sick and covering sneezes and coughs. A vaccine or drug is currently not available. 

The World Health Organization announced Jan. 30 that the outbreak constitutes a global health emergency. The first positive cases in Travis County were reported March 13.

Global cases of COVID-19 tracked by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University

A business on South Congress is closed during the coronavirus pandemic. Nonessential businesses have been told to close to slow the spread of the disease.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Click here to read this story in English. 

A diferencia de la última vez que hubo una recesión nacional, la gente que pierde su trabajo durante la pandemia del coronavirus - y el seguro médico que venía con su empleo - puede tener una opción.

The Salvation Army's downtown homeless shelter
Julia Reihs / KUT

Salvation Army Austin's downtown shelter was closed this weekend after 12 people there tested positive for COVID-19. All 187 people staying at the shelter have been moved to a city-leased hotel.

KUT has also confirmed the first case of COVID-19 at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless next door.

Julia Reihs / KUT

 

Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday that reopening the Texas economy will be a "slow process" guided by public health concerns as he continued to preview a forthcoming executive order that will detail his strategy to reignite business in the state.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Monday, April 13. Read Tuesday'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.

San José Catholic Church in Austin.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

For many people of faith in Austin, not being able to come together to celebrate religious holidays is one of the most painful concessions of the coronavirus pandemic, especially in a time filled with so much fear and uncertainty.

Cassie Davis talks to a young person about registering to vote, on the steps of the Texas Capitol in 2018.
Andrea Garcia for KUT

Voter groups are scrambling to figure out how to continue registering young people during the COVID-19 pandemic, since Texas is among a minority of states that don't allow online voter registration.

Gov. Greg Abbott speaks to media during a press conference on the coronavirus in February.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott extended his disaster declaration for all Texas counties on Sunday in response to COVID-19.

He originally issued the declaration, which enables the state to secure resources to mitigate the spread of the disease, on March 13. 

Michael Cargill owns Central Texas Gun Works.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

The line outside the door at Central Texas Gun Works on March 12 took owner Michael Cargill completely by surprise. The day before, business had been flowing as usual: a steady stream of two or three customers at a time stopping in to the small Austin store to browse, buy, or sign up for gun licensing and safety classes.

The Texas Supreme Court
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

The Texas Supreme Court has revived Gov. Greg Abbott’s order restricting the release of some jail inmates during the coronavirus pandemic.

Abortion Providers Want Supreme Court To Restore Some Services During Pandemic

Apr 11, 2020
A Planned Parenthood office in Austin with a mural of a woman holding a globe on the side of it.
Julia Reihs / KUT

In what has been an ongoing legal dispute over Texans' access to abortion during the new coronavirus pandemic, abortion providers on Saturday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take emergency action to restore “essential, time-sensitive medication abortion services.”

A person reads a book at Blunn Creek Nature Preserve in South Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many of us to both work and play from home. Two weeks into Austin’s stay-at-home order, it’s possible you’ve already exhausted your resources of fun things to do.

The KUT staff has compiled podcast, book and TV recommendations to help you pass the time.

The Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Court House in downtown Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A Travis County judge has temporarily blocked Gov. Greg Abbott's order limiting judges' ability to grant personal bonds under the state's disaster declaration.

St. David's South Austin Medical Center
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A breakdown of hundreds of coronavirus cases in Austin-Travis County closely mirrors the current racial and ethnic demographics of the city.

A nurse practitioner consults with a patient at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Austin.
Tamir Kalifa for The Texas Tribune

In the latest turn of a whiplash-inducing federal court battle over Texas GOP officials’ near-total ban on abortion during the novel coronavirus outbreak, a federal appeals court on Friday once again lent support to state officials and prohibited the procedure under all but a few narrow circumstances.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

In this installment of Ask a Doctor, UT Health San Antonio physician Fred Campbell answers Texas Standard listeners' most pressing questions about the new coronavirus.

Courtesy of Creative Action

On March 13, Central Texans woke up to the news of the first local confirmed cases of COVID-19. Schools closed. UT Austin shut down. That launched a stretch of tough times for the local economy as many operations either slowed or stopped completely.

No school means no programs for Creative Action, an Austin-based arts education organization. And that means no income and no need for most staff.

James Butler, AISD social and emotional learning specialist, offers two-minute mindfulness videos on YouTube.
YouTube screenshots

Austinites have been sheltering in place for a while now, but for households with a K-12 student, this week might have introduced a new challenge: virtual learning.  

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott said the daily trend line for the number of coronavirus cases in Travis County is “the type of line you want to see.”

Students who live near the bus locations can access the free Wi-Fi on their school computers weekdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Nathan Bernier / KUT

The Austin Independent School District says it has deployed 110 buses with Wi-Fi to neighborhoods and apartments where home internet access is least likely. Last Friday, the school district announced its school buildings are closed indefinitely as classes move online to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

People ride bikes in a Cedar Park neighborhood during the coronavirus pandemic.
Julia Reihs / 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.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A federal court has – yet again – temporarily halted Texas’ ban on abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Greg Abbott issued on order last month banning procedures that are “not immediately medically necessary” during the outbreak, which he said includes abortions.

Austin Price for KUT

From Texas Standard:

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced Wednesday that it's locking down 15 prisons in response to the coronavirus crisis. One correctional officer and one inmate died earlier this week; both had tested positive for COVID-19.

Flickr/Texas Comptroller (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

As Texas and the nation adjust to a second month of business closures because of the coronavirus pandemic, so too are the state's economic forecasters.

"I know that we've been through past events and we're going to get through this one as well," Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, the state's top financial officer, tells Texas Standard host David Brown in an interview Thursday. "It's going to be very rough but we're going to get through it one more time."

A lone person crosses the street in the rain in Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin City Council members have approved a $15 million relief fund to aid residents affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Updated on April 13 at 5:06 p.m. ET

Forget living paycheck to paycheck. Many families have lost work during the pandemic and are running out of cash as they wait for unemployment checks and government rescue money to arrive.

These are highly unusual times, and family budgeting recommendations are also unconventional.

Kathy Hauer, a financial planner based in Aiken, S.C., says she's telling people to do things she has never recommended before: "Defer as many payments as possible and worry about it later."

Portable bathrooms and hand washing stations installed near an encampment at the Terrazas Library just across I-35 in downtown.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

City leaders on Thursday approved a plan to expand the use of hotels for people who can't safely quarantine because of COVID-19.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

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.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

No matter what you do (or did) for a living before the COVID-19 pandemic, it's probably safe to say your work life has changed dramatically since its arrival. If you haven’t lost your job, you may be working from home. Or you may find yourself working out in the world, in sectors deemed “essential” by stay-at-home orders.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Many Americans are working and recreating at home during the coronavirus pandemic. But not everyone can easily shelter in place because of work or family obligations. Others choose to ignore stay-at-home orders altogether. That poses a challenge for law enforcement officers who are responsible for enforcing the state and local public health provisions.

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