Mark Escott

People wear face masks on the UT Austin campus in October.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin Public Health officials are encouraging residents to understand that if the president and first lady of the United States can contract COVID-19, anyone can.

A sign requiring face coverings at Mission Funeral Home in Austin.
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Hospitals in the Austin area are in “a very good situation,” the city’s top doctor said Wednesday, adding that now is the time for residents to take care of elective surgeries and immunizations, like getting flu shots.

A bed in a field hospital set up at the convention center
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Coronavirus cases in Austin and Travis County have been inching up since Sept. 1, though hospitalizations have dropped by 20%, Austin's top doctor said Tuesday.

Michael Minasi / KUT

As he has done time and again over the past six months, Austin Public Health interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said Tuesday that residents need to stay vigilant about wearing masks and social distancing. Otherwise, in weeks’ time, he says we could return to where we were at the end of June, when public health officials feared coronavirus cases could overwhelm our hospitals.

A sign in the lobby of UT Austin's Belo Center for New Media tells students and others not to rearrange chairs.
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The Austin area is loosening COVID-19 guidelines as new cases level off.

Dr. Mark Escott, the interim medical authority for Austin Public Health, told the Austin City Council on Tuesday that cases have plateaued in the last few weeks and that he's "confident" in suggesting a transition from stage 4 of the health authority's risk-based guidelines to stage 3.

Sisters Danielle and Kimberly Medina pack a U-Haul to move to a new apartment on West Campus before the start of UT's fall semester.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The top doctor at Austin Public Health says Austin and Travis County are doing a good job preventing the spread of coronavirus. But, Dr. Mark Escott says, residents will need to do a better job to lower the number of daily new cases to single digits. 

A field hospital is set up at the Austin Convention Center to handle coronavirus patients if hospitals in the area get overwhelmed.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin Public Health officials say Austin and Travis County residents have done a great job to help lower COVID-19 numbers over the last few weeks, but caution there is still a lot to be done – especially with colleges and schools reopening in the coming weeks.

People cross the Lady Bird Lake pedestrian bridge under MoPac Expressway on July 1.
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With average daily hospitalizations in the Austin metro area ticking above a key threshold of 70 per day Tuesday, public health officials are weighing whether to recommend the region move to stage 5 of their “risk-based guidelines.” The guidelines at that stage call for closing all but essential workplaces and having even low-risk individuals avoid gatherings outside the household.

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

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

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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.

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

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As Texas sees record spikes in new coronavirus cases, Austin and Travis County's accounting for infections is lagging. A record-breaking surge in cases is partly to blame, but there's another culprit: the fax machine.

An employee takes down information at a drive-thru coronavirus clinic at the CommUNITYCare at the Hancock Center.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

More than 500 of the 1,800 people who’ve signed up for Austin Public Health’s testing enrollment form met the criteria needed to warrant a COVID-19 test.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin-Travis County will probably see a spike in COVID-19 cases two weeks after the Easter weekend, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said during a news conference Tuesday.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

City officials say they are preparing to increase the number of hospital beds in the area in case there is a surge of COVID-19 patients overwhelming existing hospitals.

Workers handle paperwork at a drive-thru coronavirus screening site at CommUNITYCare Clinic at the Hancock Center in Austin last month.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

As Austin tries to track down those who’ve come in contact with the 502 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus, the interim health authority and public health medical director said it’s hard to draw a clear line between many of the cases.