Austin-Travis County reveals new COVID-19 clusters while hospitalizations remain flat

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Texas moves into the next phase of Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to reopen the economy, Austin-Travis County leaders revealed new data that shows 36 COVID-19 non-institutional clusters spread across several industries.

Dr. Mark Escott, interim health authority for Austin Public Health, presented the data during a work session with city council members on Tuesday. According to APH, 19 clusters have been reported in the construction industry, while six come from the retail industry.

A look at the industries in Austin-Travis County with COVID-19 clusters. Chart courtesy APH

According to Austin Public Health, a cluster is defined as three or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 at a single location.

Escott also reiterated a message from Austin-Travis County leaders that local governments need more control in responding to the pandemic. A recent letter from Attorney General Ken Paxton called Austin’s local health orders “Orwellian,” and called on the city to fall in line with Abbott’s plan to reopen the economy or face potential legal action.

“This provides us a snapshot with how we’re doing,” Escott said. “There is substantial variation across the state which, to me, indicates that we need to have local control, local influence over policies because this epidemic, this pandemic of COVID-19 is affecting different cities differently at different times.”

Despite concerns about the state’s response to the pandemic, new daily hospitalizations and cases are flat in Travis County, according to date shared by Austin Public Health.

Travis County daily COVID-19 hospitalizations (Source: Austin Public Health)

Allens Boots on South Congress Ave. opened at 25% capacity in accordance with the governor’s order and looks forward to seeing more customers in the future.

Blake Abbott, the store’s retail director who has no relation to the governor, said the company has implemented new safety protocols that require temperature tests for employees and face coverings for everyone in the store.

“We’re just trying to maximize on the safety protocol but we have to open up so that’s what we’re doing,” Blake Abbott said.

KXAN Politics Reporter John Engel is breaking down the new data and is speaking to local business owners about how they are responding to the lightening of public health restrictions. Watch the full story tonight on KXAN at 6 p.m.

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