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

Dr. Mark Escott, interim director of Austin Public Health, gives an update on what public health officials are doing to protect the community from the new coronavirus.
ATXN screenshot

There is no evidence canceling South by Southwest will make the city safer from the spread of the new coronavirus, Austin public health officials said Wednesday, adding that they are reevaluating the situation on a daily basis.

Photo illustration by Max Posner/NPR; Tony Latham/Corbis/Getty Images / Hinterhaus Productions/Digital Vision/Getty Images

As the coronavirus spreads around the globe, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.

"I told my children that while I didn't think that they were at risk right now, we, as a family, need to be preparing for significant disruption of our lives," says Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Health officials are testing "one or more" individuals for COVID-19 in the Austin-Travis County area, Austin Public Health's interim health director said.  

 A crowd of people walks down Rainey Street during South by Southwest last year.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

One of Austin’s biggest months for visitors has begun, just as concerns grow around the new coronavirus COVID-19. While most events are proceeding as planned, the scenario in which a large event would be shut down over the virus is a little murky.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a Texas-led challenge to the Affordable Care Act, the justices said Monday, marking the third major case in which former President Barack Obama's landmark health law has earned the scrutiny of the country’s highest court.

More than 100 Diamond Princess cruise ship evacuees were released from federal quarantine at Lackland Air Force Base on Tuesday. The evacuees' completion of a 14-day quarantine came just as city and county officials declared public health emergencies to delay the evacuees' departure. An updated plan from federal health officials eased city concerns and cleared the way for the evacuees' departure.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Travis County and the City of Austin say they’re monitoring the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, and collaborating daily with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health officials.

Gov. Greg Abbott and other state officials
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Texas officials have been taking steps for the last month to prepare for the potential spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, Gov. Greg Abbott said.

Updated at 10:17 p.m. ET

Hours after the White House rejected the idea of appointing a coronavirus czar, President Trump on Wednesday put Vice President Pence in charge of the administration's response to the disease.

"We're doing really well, and Mike is going to be in charge," Trump said, noting that Pence's experience as governor of Indiana made him adept at working with state and local health authorities.

"This is not a czar," the president later added.

Updated at 8:25 p.m. ET

Federal health officials issued a blunt message Tuesday: Americans need to start preparing now for the possibility that more aggressive, disruptive measures might be needed to stop the spread of the new coronavirus in the U.S.

The strongly worded warning came in response to outbreaks of the virus outside China, including in Iran, Japan, South Korea and Italy, which officials say have raised the likelihood of outbreaks occurring stateside.

Bernie Sanders speaks to the audience at the She the People Presidential Forum at Texas Southern University last year.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Health care remains a top concern for voters in Texas, but they are split on whether to completely upend the country’s current health care system, a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll finds.

A cart of gauze pads and other items used to treat a patient who is hemorrhaging.
Julia Reihs / KUT

An effort to make hospitals safer for women giving birth in Texas has been underway for more than a year now. Doctors and hospital administrators say Texas AIM, which was launched in the summer of 2018, has led to big shifts in how medical staff treat women facing medical complications while having a baby.

The coronavius, or COVID-19, under the microscope.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Austin health officials say the threat of coronavirus has not gotten any bigger now that the first case has been confirmed in Texas.

Dr. Mark Escott, the interim medical director of Austin Public Health, said there is “virtually a 0% chance” of contracting the virus, now known as COVID-19, in Austin.

Information about the Livestrong Foundation painted on Little Woodrow's on Sixth Street.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

The cancer charity whose yellow wristbands became a global brand under founder Lance Armstrong is seeking to reinvent itself, years after donations and revenues crashed along with the disgraced cyclist's career.

An EMS truck in front of a hospital.
Spencer Selvidge for KUT

Emergency medical providers in Austin are working with state health officials to expand treatment services for people who overdose on opioids.

Texas Capitol
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Texas health officials are evaluating whether to accept a block grant from the Trump administration to expand the state's Medicaid program to more low-income adults.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Several Texas airports will soon begin screening certain travelers for a novel form of coronavirus, as public health officials rush to contain a deadly outbreak that so far has been mostly limited to China. 

Baylor University
klndonnelly via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A Baylor University student who was tested for coronavirus after returning to Texas from China does not have the same deadly virus that has killed dozens of people and shutdown a city in China, health officials said Monday.

A water tower says Welcome to Aggieland.
Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

A resident of Brazos County who was tested for coronavirus after returning to Texas from China is not afflicted with the same deadly strain that has killed dozens of people, health officials said Sunday.

Pat Neff Hall at Baylor University
Ken Lund via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Health officials are investigating whether a Baylor University student has the second suspected case in Texas of a deadly coronavirus that killed at least 25 people overseas and caused the lockdown of a city in China.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A student at Texas A&M University is being tested for possible infection with the new coronavirus, officials at the Brazos County Health District said Thursday.

Planned Parenthood
Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The Trump administration has agreed to give roughly $350 million over five years to Healthy Texas Women, a state family-planning program that excludes Planned Parenthood.

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

The percentage of minors unable to get a judge's approval for an abortion in Texas has fluctuated in the past two decades, according to a study published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Public health officials confirmed Thursday morning the first case of rubella in Travis County since 1999. The confirmation comes roughly a month after the first diagnosis of measles, which was last seen in the Austin area in 1999, too.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Nationwide, 32 children have died of flu this season, including eight in Texas. The figure is up from 16 last year – a jump that may be partially due to the strain of virus.

A billboard on Interstate 20 outside of Waskom displays an anti-abortion message.
Ben Fenton / The Texas Tribune

Three Texas towns recently voted in favor of anti-abortion ordinances, extending the reach of a campaign to create “sanctuary cities for the unborn” across the state.

A Planned Parenthood sign.
Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas have been told they can no longer receive charitable donations directly from state employee paychecks.

Tinslee Lewis in the hospital
Courtesy of Texas Right to Life

A judge ruled in favor of allowing a Fort Worth hospital to remove an infant from life support on Thursday, according to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The move is at odds with the wishes of the 11-month-old baby's family, which has spent recent months fighting Cook Children's Medical Center over ending care for Tinslee Lewis.

Damien Temperley instructs students lying on mats on how to do ab exercises.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Texans are below the national average when it comes to how often they exercise, according to a new study by FitRated.

The study found only 68% of people in the state exercised regularly in the last month, which is 5 percentage points lower than the national average. Texas also has just 5.5 gyms per 100,000 people, the third-lowest in the nation. This goes along with a 33% obesity rate. 

Thomas Williams-Platt in the backyard of his aunt's home in Georgetown.
Angela Piazza for The Texas Tribune

Before entering the halls of Channing School high atop the Texas Panhandle last year, students were required to roll up their shirt sleeves to show they weren’t sneaking in e-cigarettes.

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