Health

Fitness, well-being, disease, medical research and issues related to Seton and St. David's Healthcare, Austin Regional Clinic and other health care providers in Austin and Central Texas

Anabel with her dog Howie at her home in Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A lot of us are counting time: Days we’ve been sheltering in place. Days we’ve been working from home. Days since we went to school or since we lost a job. 

People in recovery are used to counting time as a way to measure their sobriety. 

Julie Walder, a licensed professional counselor, offers therapy sessions through video conferencing, while Austin follows social distancing rules to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Mental health care providers in Austin say they're finding it hard to provide telemedicine services to a big chunk of their patients – particularly those with large employer health plans from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

We know there will be an outbreak of COVID-19 in Austin, but the severity of the outbreak is up to us.

A new report from UT finds that if everyone in Austin reduces their human interaction by 90%, the city’s hospitals would be able to treat everyone who gets sick.

Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

Abortion providers in Texas are suing state officials for banning abortions as part of their effort to halt procedures that are “not immediately medically necessary” during the coronavirus outbreak.

Joni Watkins and Matt Umberger sew face masks to donate to health care workers, on the porch of their South Austin home.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Hospitals and health care facilities say they don’t have enough equipment to protect doctors and nurses treating patients with COVID-19. Masks, gloves, gowns and face shields are all on backorder.

To get more masks to people who need them, the medical community here is asking Austinites to make their own.

An ambulance parked outside St. David's South Austin Medical Center.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

State officials say they are trying to get protective gear to medical staff at hospitals across Texas as quickly as possible, as the coronavirus continues to spread.

A delivery person carries Amazon packages to an apartment complex in South Austin. Mail and shipping services are considered essential under Austin's stay-at-home order.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The City of Austin has issued an order that requires everyone (with some exceptions) to stay at home and requires many businesses to close in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

A heart with "ATX" inside on the Fairmont Hotel
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Stay-at-home orders are expected to be issued in the City of Austin, Travis County and Williamson County on Tuesday in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said. The orders would require all nonessential businesses to have employees work from home and further restrict other gatherings.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Texas health officials have banned abortions as part of what they say is an effort to crack down on medical procedures that are “not immediately medically necessary” during the spread of the coronavirus in the state.

H-E-B set limits on how many cleaning products customers could purchase at a time after people were clearing out shelves during the coronavirus pandemic.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Cities across the country are expecting a surge in plumbing problems related to the use of disinfecting wipes to combat COVID-19. In Austin, water utility officials are urging people not to flush wipes and other products that can jam up private plumbing and the wastewater system.

 A line of shoppers waits to enter Costco in South Austin during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gabriel C. Pérez C. Pérez / KUT

New rules went into effect in Austin on Saturday night to enforce social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Drive-thru screening takes place at the CommUnityCare Hancock Walk-In Clinic during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Daily life for Texans has changed drastically in the past week. School districts have closed for at least the rest of the month. Several cities – and then the governor – ordered bars and restaurant dining rooms to close. Mass gatherings have been limited to no more than 10 people. Big, annual events have been canceled. 

Aaron Garcia, a student at Trinity University in San Antonio, and Kellie Andrews, a school nurse with Ascension Seton, volunteer with the Central Texas Food Bank loading food into cars.
Julia Reihs / KUT

In one hour, the Central Texas Food Bank served 405 households at its Linder Elementary School distribution site on Thursday.

Volunteers from across the community – including school nurses, a janitor, an assistant vice principal and college students with extended spring breaks – armed themselves with gloves and loaded boxes of food into cars, all while practicing safe social-distancing measures.

A man waits to pick up children at the Capital Metro Child Care and Early Learning Center on Friday.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The governor has closed all K-12 schools, restaurants, gyms and other public spaces where 10 or more people can gather in Texas to curb the spread of COVID-19 – but his guidance did not include child care centers.

Because of that, businesses across the state are deciding for themselves whether to stay open.

Dr. Mark Escott speaks during a news conference March 6 when South by Southwest was canceled due to health safety concerns.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Austin-Travis County has evidence of community spread of COVID-19, Dr. Mark Escott, the interim medical director and health authority for Austin Public Health, said Friday.

Customers who are over 60 can now have H-E-B groceries delivered to their home.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

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

Telemedicine laws in Texas got revamped this week as the coronavirus spreads through the state.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday he was waiving a slew of regulations that made it harder for doctors to treat people remotely, also known as telemedicine or telehealth.

A man wearing a face mask walks in the Hancock neighborhood of Austin during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

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

Houston VA Medical Center/Flickr

An employee at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston has tested presumptive positive for COVID-19, according to the center. 

In response, the Houston VA says it will conduct most of its non-urgent care virtually over the next several days, through telephone, email or its online VA Video Connect app. 

The hospital has also postponed all elective surgeries and procedures, though it remains open for care. 

To date, the hospital says no veterans have tested positive for COVID-19.

Austin's first drive-up testing center for COVID-19 at Baylor Scott & White clinic in North Austin on March 15, 2020.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Austin public health officials say they've received about 1,000 COVID-19 test kits, acknowledging that there is still a huge gulf between the number of tests available and the number of people who want to be tested. 

Updated at 4:18 p.m. ET

President Trump ordered the border with Canada partly closed on Wednesday and the Pentagon said it would join the coronavirus pandemic response with hospital ships, field treatment centers and medical supplies.

A sign telling people how to stay healthy.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

As Central Texas prepares for an inevitable spike in COVID-19 diagnoses, medical professionals are calling on local officials to address unmet needs and implement tighter restrictions on public gatherings.

Social Distancing Comes With Social Side Effects. Here's How To Stay Connected.

Mar 16, 2020
The Travis County Tax Office has signs posted to encourage people to prevent the spread of disease.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

To fight the spread of coronavirus, government officials have asked Americans to swallow a hard pill: Stay away from each other.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

We'll share live updates on how the coronavirus is affecting Austin and Central Texas throughout the weekend. Have a news tip? Email us at news@kut.org.

A sign on Guadalupe tells drivers to stay home if they are feeling sick.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

We'll share live updates on how the coronavirus is affecting Austin and Central Texas throughout the day. Have a news tip? Email us at news@kut.org.

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