AUSTIN (KXAN) — KXAN is keeping track of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. For up-to-date daily coverage, visit our Texas Coronavirus Live Blog and find a weekly round-up of the top COVID-19-related updates here each week.
Week of February 1-7
People who are due for their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine are confused as to why they haven’t been able to schedule an appointment to get it through Austin Public Health.
Adding further to the confusion, APH posted a tweet saying they have yet to receive any second doses for the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. APH says it won’t allow them to make appointments for their second shots until the Texas Department of State Health Services delivers them to Austin.
DSHS says APH is due to get its first set of second doses by mid-next week.
In other weekly news related to COVID-19:
- This age group is most responsible for COVID-19 spread, study says
- Third stimulus checks: Biden flexible on who gets aid, tells lawmakers to ‘go big’
- Fake medical mask exemption I.D. cards in South Carolina go viral
- Combined COVID-19 antibody therapy shows promise in reducing hospitalizations & deaths, Texas researchers say
- New doses delivered for 1.8K Central Texans who’ve been without a 2nd COVD-19 vaccine dose
- Who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine through Austin Public Health right now?
- First case of UK variant confirmed in Austin-Travis County
- CDC: Teachers don’t need vaccines to safely reopen schools
- Select Texas CVS Pharmacy locations to begin administering COVID-19 vaccines next week
- Despite fears, Austin nurse explains why she volunteered for the COVID-19 unit
- ‘It’s everyone’s fight:’ New mural helps spread message to Austin’s Hispanic population
- ‘Lay low and cool it’: Fauci not a fan of Super Bowl parties amid pandemic
- AISD crisis fund spent more than $10 million supporting families, teachers since March
- Local woman helps hundreds of seniors through tricky registration process for COVID-19 vaccinations
- Biden administration to begin shipping vaccines directly to pharmacies next week
- Designated family members of Austin nursing home residents qualify for vaccination, APH says
- Austin Public Health COVID-19 vaccine appointments to be released Tuesdays, Thursdays
- Austin school parking lot doubles as long-term COVID-19 community testing site
- Vaccine hub sites’ reliance on honor code system leaves people skipping the line in Williamson County
- Free COVID-19 testing for Eanes ISD students, staff members this Saturday
- How Austin Public Health determines if you qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine
- Capt. Tom Moore, UK war veteran who helped raise millions by walking laps in his backyard, dies at 100
- ‘Singing is the vehicle’: Local youth choir rehearses from cars for spring program
- Debunking myths: Huston-Tillotson hosts virtual forum on COVID-19 vaccine information
- Burnet County hub adds phone line, but COVID-19 vaccine appointments must still be made online
- San Marcos offers small businesses rapid COVID-19 testing
- Despite slow vaccine rollout, Austin COVID-19 modelers hope for ‘some semblance of normal’ this fall
- COVID clinical consult line just one safety measure put in to keep first responders safe
- Some rural Central Texas counties will see an increase in COVID-19 vaccines for week 8
Week of January 25-31
In a presentation to Travis County Commissioners and the Austin City Council, Dr. Mark Escott said he expects the area to remain in Stage 5 through February, but the numbers are trending in the right direction.
A big part of that, Escott said, is that the area didn’t see a spike in new hospital admissions health officials expected following New Year’s Eve, unlike Thanksgiving and Christmas. He attributed that to the “courage of the city and county to protect the community.”
In other COVID-19 related news this week:
- Stimulus: Lawmakers urge Biden to offer recurring $2,000 ‘survival checks’
- Fauci warns virus variants are ‘a wake-up call’, scientists must be ready to tweak vaccines
- More than 15K vaccines administered through Williamson County hub, more sites opening soon
- Vaccine help wanted: Road race experts, fast-food managers tapped
- APH: It’ll be ‘months’ before all Phase 1A, 1B qualified people in Travis County receive COVID-19 vaccinations
- Hays County COVID-19 vaccine slots filled up quickly after portal opened at noon
- Some Central Texas assisted living facilities have not received COVID-19 vaccines
- COVID-19 vaccine allocation team: Texas will be on Phase 1B ‘for a while’
- ‘Keep Austin Well’: Local gyms give care packages to healthcare workers
- South Africa virus variant detected in US for 1st time
- Oregon drivers stuck in snow get soon-to-expire vaccines
- Visits to Las Vegas may have fueled coronavirus spread, study finds
- YMCA of Austin to offer free ‘Reset Challenge’ starting February 1
- Hays CISD bus driver marks 5th employee to pass away after testing positive for COVID-19
- New COVID-19 mutations are popping up — here’s what you need to know
- Austin Public Health is hiring 100+ temp positions for COVID-19 response support. Here’s how to apply
- Gov. Abbott pitches legislation to protect businesses operating during pandemic from ‘frivolous lawsuits’
- Gov. Greg Abbott hears from construction workers, businesses during meeting on Texas economy
- Several thousand recipients of Austin Public Health’s first COVID-19 dose can’t sign up for second dose yet
- Hays County scheduled to reopen COVID-19 vaccine portal Friday
- President Biden says 100-day goal on vaccinations may rise to 150 million instead of 100 million
- State expands Austin infusion center for COVID-19 treatment to accommodate more people
- Travis County Sheriff’s Office reports largest number of new COVID-19 cases among jail inmates
- New City-backed podcast helps Austinites ‘pivot’ during the pandemic
- CDC: Severe allergic reaction to COVID-19 vaccines ‘a rare event’, vast majority impacted are women
- COVID-19 vaccine distribution Week 7: How many doses is your county receiving?
- Social sports leagues on hold, scaling back as COVID-19 pandemic continues
Week of January 18-24
At the current rate, it could take months to vaccinate those in Austin and Travis County against the coronavirus, health experts said Friday. So far 18,427 first doses have been given out over the past few weeks, just a fraction of the estimated 1.2 million people in the area.
“We don’t have enough vaccines,” said Dr. Mark Escott, the Austin-Travis County interim health authority. He asked everyone to remain vigilant and to use common-sense health protocols to curb the spread of the virus until more vaccines can be acquired.
In other COVID-19 related news this week:
- Biden to reinstate COVID travel rules, add South Africa
- Texas will receive 332,750 first doses of COVID-19 vaccines this week, DSHS says
- Trouble breathing, tooth loss: Some COVID-19 patients face lasting effects
- Texas lawmakers call for changes to state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan
- UT to launch mobile COVID-19 testing in student-concentrated areas
- State Rep. Carl Sherman discloses COVID-19 diagnosis
- Registration through Hays County fills in 15 minutes for nearly 2K doses of COVID-19 vaccines
- Third stimulus check: GOP lawmaker wants $1,400 payment reserved for people who get COVID-19 vaccine
- Texas expands COVID-19 rapid testing program for small businesses
- ‘We don’t have enough vaccine,’ APH says. It could take months to vaccinate the area
- IN-DEPTH: Residents in just 4 Texas counties willing to get vaccine at rate high enough to ‘return to normal’
- Dave Chappelle cancels shows after testing positive for COVID-19
- As Travis County hits record daily COVID-19 deaths, local transport, funeral services try to keep up
- California researchers developing wearable COVID-19 test strip
- APH says phone number listed to pre-register for COVID-19 vaccine intended for those without internet
- With expiration dates approaching, Texas school districts ease up rapid testing restrictions
- Down syndrome now listed on state’s Phase 1B COVID-19 vaccine priority list
- ‘This is history’: Austin adolescents sign up for Moderna COVID-19 vaccine trial
- San Marcos could be the next city to challenge state COVID-19 restrictions
- About 2,000 vaccines administered on first day of Williamson County vaccine rollout
- 2021 Girl Scout cookie season officially starts; local troops innovate sales during pandemic
- In chance encounter, nursing student gives COVID-19 vaccine to his grandparents
- ‘Criminals’ impersonating state agents to scam people during vaccine rollout, Texas DSHS warns
- Having trouble with the Austin COVID-19 vaccine portal? It may be your username
- Gov. Abbott says health care priorities will be mental health, telehealth & PPE; Democrats call for Medicaid expansion
- Pre-registration open for COVID-19 vaccination waitlist in Bastrop County
- Bells and candlelight honor 400,000 dead from COVID-19
- Around 25% of CVS, Walgreens vaccines for Texas long-term care facilities have been administered
- Gov. Greg Abbott: Texas is making bounds in providing vaccines, but limits exist
Week of January 11-17
Technical glitches and the overall slow speed associated with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout are frustrating not just Austinites, but Texans as well.
Austin Public Health confirmed rumors that some people outside of Phases 1A and 1B received COVID-19 vaccines on Monday due to a “miscommunication with a vendor.” APH Director Stephanie Hayden said they gave people shots who were waiting in line, without appointments, out of “common courtesy.”
Here are some other stories related to COVID-19 from this week:
- Students may be 6 months behind due to pandemic, TEA assessments show
- Third stimulus check: Here’s when you might get a $1,400 direct payment
- COVID-19 case in Texas House forces exposed members to quarantine
- Willie Nelson gets COVID-19 vaccine, wants everyone to ‘take care of yourself and others’
- Biden to lay out plan to ramp up COVID-19 vaccine distribution
- One month later, Texas struggles to vaccinate seniors, others in Phase 1B
- Hays CISD seeks to administer COVID-19 vaccine to all employees with guidance from the state
- New COVID-19 surge causing more couples to downsize, reschedule weddings
- Central Texas educators team up to send message: They need help getting vaccinated
- Growing concerns over availability of second COVID-19 vaccine doses
- As COVID-19 surges, Austin ICU doctor urges community to stay home, wear masks
- First patients transported to Austin field hospital as area inches toward ICU capacity
- Long COVID-19 vaccine lines form after appointments change through Austin Public Health
- Taylor Middle School closes, moves to remote learning after 9 employees test positive for COVID-19
- Central Texans travel to different parts of the state to get COVID-19 vaccine
- Stadiums, amusement parks transform into COVID-19 vaccination mega sites
- Austin’s therapeutic infusion center to begin treating larger number of COVID-19 patients soon
- Hays County directs residents who qualify for COVID-19 vaccine to hubs, pharmacies
- ‘It was just excruciating pain’: Hospital capacity forces Lee County woman to go 3 hours away for care
- Capital Metro offers free rides to COVID-19 vaccine appointments
- How did non-priority Austin residents get vaccines ahead of 1A and 1B patients?
- Williamson County comes up with vaccine hub plan; submits to state for approval
- Austin police trainer dies from complications related to COVID-19
- Austin Public Health confirms rumors non-priority individuals received COVID-19 vaccines ‘out of common courtesy’
- Dollar General will pay its 157,000 workers to get COVID-19 vaccine
- Latino funeral home president gives perspective on ethnicity’s COVID-19 struggles
- How to pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine through Austin Public Health
- How does the alternate care site at the Austin Convention Center compare to El Paso’s?
- No more walk-ups: Pflugerville COVID-19 test site will now require appointments
- Austin area reports more people hospitalized, in ICU with COVID-19 than ever before
- 15-year-old Hays High cheerleader home recovering after being hospitalized with COVID-19
- 1st COVID-19 vaccine drive-thru clinic delivered more than 600 shots in southeast Travis County
- H-E-B sets up online registration tool for 1A and 1B patients for COVID-19 shots, no vaccines yet
Week of January 4-10
While it’s not technically a surge yet, Austin-Travis County’s COVID-19 cases are increasing in such a way that one is imminent, health officials say.
The area’s hospitalizations have passed the threshold of 15%, health officials say, and if they are that way for seven consecutive days, the area will officially be in a COVID-19 surge like 16 other trauma service areas in the state.
“It seems pretty clear to us that we will run out of hospital beds,” Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said. “It appears through the modeling we might run out of ICU beds next week. “There’s a phased-based approach to surge in our hospitals, and then out of hospitals and into alternate care sites.”
Earlier models suggested ICU space would be maxed out this week.
In other COVID-19 news this week:
- Texas lawmakers diagnosed with COVID-19 after receiving first of two vaccine doses
- Austin ISD resumes class, while public health leaders warn to keep kids home, off buses
- Austin Public Health expects ICU space to fill up quick
- ‘They can’t breathe, and they are dying’: Respiratory therapists work to help COVID-19 hospital patients
- How some Texas cities are operating mass COVID-19 vaccination clinics, and why others aren’t
- Ineligible people get COVID-19 vaccine ahead of priority groups at Austin clinic’s vaccination event
- Austin Public Health only offering COVID-19 vaccines to Phase 1A right now
- ATCEMS employees less likely than APD to be covered under worker’s comp for COVID-19
- Stimulus checks sent to wrong bank account? Here’s what to do
- North Texas woman launches crowdsourcing site on where to get the COVID-19 vaccine
- COVID-19 infusion therapy to roll out in east Austin; leaders say area currently lacks resources
- ‘Entire state is in surge’ says interim health authority, record number of COVID-19 admissions Tuesday
- 1st person in US to receive coronavirus vaccine gets final dose
- Students buy specialized shield for AISD teacher at high risk for COVID-19
- NFL considering filling Super Bowl seats with vaccinated health care workers
- We Are Blood in need of convalescent plasma to keep up with hospital demand
- COVID-19 mass vaccination site would come to eastern Travis County, but more doses are needed
- Texas Capitol reopens to public as chambers lay out guidelines for office visits
- Ascension Seton to offer COVID-19 vaccines to high-risk staff in Round Rock ISD
- Texas’ decentralized approach to COVID-19 vaccine rollout keeps some local officials out of the mix
- Curative COVID-19 test can have ‘false negative results,’ FDA warns
- Austin infusion center to open this week to help treat COVID-19 patients
- Research: COVID vaccines effective against new strain
Week of December 27-January 3
On Monday, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott called the area’s COVID-19 surge “worsening,” and said a curfew could be put in place if the surge continues its current path.
“If we continue to see an upward trend, then we are going to have discussions about the possibility of a curfew toward the end of this week, to help mitigate that risk,” Escott said.
Escott said the average of new hospital admissions is up 106% since the beginning of December, and new admissions to intensive care units are up 62% since a week ago. Escott said at this rate, ICUs in the area could run out of beds in a week.
In other COVID-19 related news during the week:
- China sentences lawyer who reported on coronavirus outbreak to 4 years
- Want to travel and attend events in 2021? You may need a COVID-19 passport
- City of Austin walk-in utility payment centers temporarily closed due to COVID-19 risk
- Trump signs coronavirus stimulus package and government-funding measure
- Austin police officers to start receiving COVID-19 vaccine Monday
- Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, wife, son all test positive for COVID-19
Week of December 20-26
Two days before Christmas, Austin Public Health announced the Austin-Travis County area is in Stage 5 of the county’s COVID-19 risk levels, saying that the spread of the disease in “uncontrolled.”
Health leaders recommend that people stay home and limit travel outside of home to essential trips, and also not to gather with people from different households — especially for holiday celebrations.
The most recent data from the county’s COVID-19 dashboard shows the seven-day rolling average of new hospitalizations is at 58, past the Stage 5 threshold of 50, with 77 new admissions Wednesday. The dashboard will not be updated until after Christmas, APH says.
In other COVID-19 related news during the week:
- ICU beds will fill up fast if COVID-19 cases spike, UT modeling data suggests
- California becomes first state to hit 2 million COVID-19 cases
- Austin Public Health COVID-19 testing sites closed for Christmas starting Thursday, other sites open
- Hospitals monitor ICU capacity, staffing levels as Austin-Travis County enters Stage 5
- Austin holiday event organizers take different approaches to Stage 5 guidelines
- Austin retirement community among first to give seniors COVID-19 vaccine
- Travis County Parks lowers park capacities for Stage 5
- PfISD suspends sub-varsity sports, keeps 14-day quarantine period due to Stage 5 announcement
- Setting a good example or cutting ahead in line? Gov. Greg Abbott’s COVID-19 vaccination draws praise and heat
- We Are Blood: Convalescent plasma need is ‘critical,’ recovered COVID-19 patients need to donate
- US close to deal with Pfizer for millions more vaccine doses
- Austin church moves Christmas Eve service to parking lot to adhere to CDC guidelines
- List: Two dozen Austin bars fined for COVID-19 violations—why some bar owners dispute the data
- Lyft to provide 60 million rides to and from vaccination sites
- Pandemic reaches 7th continent as dozens test positive in Antarctica
- $900B COVID-19 relief bill passed by Congress; Mnuchin says stimulus checks could arrive next week
- ‘A long time coming’: Restaurants hope second wave of PPP loans will get them through the winter
- How long will it take to vaccinate every Texas healthcare worker?
- Virus rules were not enforced. A grieving Texas family asks: Why?
- Phase 1B: Those 65 and up, people with select medical conditions to get COVID-19 vaccine next in Texas
- Gov. Greg Abbott receives Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, calls it ‘safe’ and ‘effective’
- President-elect Biden receives COVID-19 vaccine
- COVID-19 guidelines set to expire for Texas childcare facilities
- Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra, family test positive for COVID-19
Week of December 13-19
It’s finally here.
The COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer is in Austin and frontline health care workers got the first doses of it Tuesday at Dell Medical School.
The vaccine won’t be publicly available for awhile, but getting health care workers, and then other essential workers and those at high risk of having severe complications from COVID-19, is a crucial step is putting the pandemic in the rear view mirror.
In other COVID-19 news this week:
- APH: Area could be in for ‘miserable’ Christmas, New Year’s Eve if COVID-19 spread rate continues
- Texas living facilities should be required to offer vaccines to residents, advocates say
- Medical staff at smaller hospitals in Hays County have limited access right now to COVID-19 vaccine
- Austin nonprofit stepping up to help foster families in need during pandemic
- Austin’s health authority warns of potential El Paso-level coronavirus surge locally
- Santa and Mrs. Claus may have exposed nearly 50 children to COVID-19 in Georgia
- Some of the first Central Texans to get the COVID-19 vaccine describe ‘incredible’ moment
- As US vaccinations ramp up, FDA gives positive review of Moderna’s COVID-19 shot
- First COVID-19 vaccine in Austin administered Tuesday, who is next in line?
- Free COVID-19 testing in Taylor using less-invasive cheek swab method
- How one school became a ‘COVID-19 Safety Zone’ through innovative testing
- How soon will Texas long-term care residents get vaccinated? Senior communities in Austin are preparing
- Gov. Abbott says White House was ‘unaware’ of COVID-19 mitigation steps in Texas when it called for more restrictions
- Scientists focus on bats for clues to prevent next pandemic
- Austin Public Health: Curfew could still be needed even as vaccines arrive
- Dell Medical School 1 of just 4 Texas hospitals to receive COVID-19 vaccine on Day 1
- Trump says he’s nixing plan for early vaccine at White House
- Rare disease community group leader in Central Texas raises concerns about COVID-19 vaccine
Week of December 6-12
Austin Public Health released new guidance Tuesday on how long a person should quarantine when monitoring themselves for symptoms after potential COVID-19 exposure.
The agency said there are three lengths of quarantine ranging from 7-14 days, the shortest being recommended only for healthcare workers or first responders. If a person was exposed to a person who later tests positive for COVID-19 and masks were worn when close contact happened, a 10-day quarantine is all that’s necessary, the guidance says.
If exposure came in a non-mask setting, the quarantine is a full 14 days.
Other COVID-19 news of the week includes:
- Deadline to apply for Austin’s COVID-19 rental assistance program is noon Tuesday
- COVID-19 vaccine voluntary for UT Austin community for now
- Burnet Middle School moves to remote classes after principal’s COVID-19 diagnosis, death
- Grandmother, 90, becomes first in world to receive COVID-19 vaccine as UK starts giving 1st doses
- Are Austin internet providers keeping up with increased need for speed during the pandemic?
- Texas A&M game against Ole Miss postponed — again
- Can your boss fire you for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine? Yes.
- CVS hiring ahead of COVID-19 vaccine distribution
- ‘You’re turning neighbor against neighbor’: Some Fredericksburg business owners want COVID-19 complaint system removed
- Walmart, Sam’s Club begin selling at-home COVID-19 test kits online
- Nursing home residents could get COVID-19 vaccines by end of month, health leaders say
- Burnet Middle School principal dies from health complications after COVID-19 positive diagnosis
- Many small business employees in Texas will soon be able to get COVID-19 rapid testing at their workplace
- Texas’ top doctors discuss how to address COVID-19 ‘skeptics’ during state senate hearing
- Abbott among governors discussing COVID-19 at the White House vaccine summit
Week of November 29-December 5
Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden said the first people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer should get it by the end of December.
She said that in an Austin City Council briefing Tuesday. She said a 138-person committee who meets to discuss vaccine distribution has met three times, and they have a plan to get frontline workers and those at high risk of severe complications the vaccine first.
In other COVID-19 related news:
- Will Texas prioritize childcare providers for coronavirus vaccination?
- Second stimulus checks: McConnell says ‘compromise is within reach’
- Last chance to apply for rent assistance from the City of Austin, millions of funds still available
- Meals on Wheels programs work to fill increasing food and technology gaps for high-risk people
- UT seniors discuss wrapping up college, planning for future during ongoing pandemic
- Towns near Big Bend notice spike in tourists, then COVID-19; warn future visitors about strained resources
- Austin Mayor Steve Adler says he regrets traveling to Mexico while urging residents to stay home
- Without deadline extension, Williamson County could lose $20M in CARES Act funds
- COVID-19 vaccines to start arriving in Texas in less than 2 weeks, Gov. Abbott says
- Did Thanksgiving travel, gatherings cause a COVID-19 spike? We may know this week
- Hawaii couple who tested positive for COVID-19 is arrested after boarding flight
- Starbucks offering free coffee to frontline workers through December
- Nurse brags on TikTok about defying COVID-19 restrictions, put on administrative leave
- Ice-T says ‘no-masker’ father-in-law is ‘a believer now’ after 40 days in ICU battling COVID-19
- Texas has $3 billion of federal coronavirus relief funds to spend before the end of the year
- Dr. Scott Atlas resigns as coronavirus adviser to President Trump
- Spring semester classes will remain virtual at Huston-Tillotson University due to coronavirus pandemic
- Local nonprofits lean on generosity for Giving Tuesday during pandemic
- US may see ‘surge upon surge’ of virus in weeks ahead, Dr. Fauci says
- Moderna asking US, European regulators to OK its virus shots
- Merriam-Webster’s top word of 2020 is no surprise
Week of November 22-28
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday health care workers will be the first Texans eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
The vaccine could be available as early as mid-December, and through his vaccine distribution plan, health care workers along with those at high risk for severe complications.
Drug manufacturer AstraZeneca became the third company to announce a 90% efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine, joining Pfizer and Moderna. Pfizer is at the point where it has asked the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use clearance already, and Moderna isn’t far behind.
In other weekly COVID-19 news:
- Suicides and suicide-related 911 calls not showing spike in Travis County during pandemic
- Meet Austie the Flying Pup: Austin airport’s new mascot teaches kids how to fly during the pandemic
- Tarrytown Pharmacy seeing more people sign up for COVID-19 testing ahead of Thanksgiving
- Many Americans flying for holiday despite CDC pleas
- 15 members of north Texas family get COVID-19 after small birthday party
- National Guard troops arrive at El Paso Medical Examiner’s Office to help with bodies
Week of November 15-21
Moderna and Pfizer each say they have COVID-19 vaccines that are showing at least 90% efficacy in trials, and the drug companies are on the precipice of being able to distribute them.
Both are looking to get emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration, and the vaccines could be available in limited quantities by the end of the year. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the hope is it would first be distributed to frontline medical workers and those at high risk of serious complications, and then rolled out to the general public in the following months.
Benchmark Research administers trials for both vaccines in Austin.
In other weekly COVID-19 news:
- 24-7 mental health service hotline now available for those impacted by COVID-19 in Austin
- Williamson County uses $500K in coronavirus relief funds to benefit local food banks
- CDC pleads with Americans to avoid Thanksgiving travel
- Pfizer seeking emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine in US
- Austin-area musicians rally for answers on SAVES relief funding
- El Paso working on COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans
- Williamson County moves to ‘Red Phase’ after ‘uncontrolled community spread’ of COVID-19
- Liberty Hill Jr. High moves remote, on-campus instruction to resume after Thanksgiving break
- Leaders disagree over discipline policy for Austin police officers who don’t wear masks
- Central Texas schools don’t anticipate post-Thanksgiving shutdown but ask students to take devices home
- Austin-Travis County now in Stage 4 of COVID-19 risk level due to lack of medical personnel
- ‘It’s here’: Gov. Abbott says COVID-19 treatment drug is in Texas, to be distributed
- Central Texans impacted by COVID-19 want tighter statewide restrictions
- Austin High School will reopen for in-person learning Thursday, after coronavirus closure
- Austin senior living community among first to enroll in CDC’s free COVID-19 vaccine program
- Dolly Parton’s $1 million donation helps fund COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna
- Is it safe to visit Santa? New COVID-19 risk chart looks at 2020 holiday activities
- How does the COVID-19 vaccine make you feel afterward? Trial participants explain
- Texas one of 4 states to test new delivery system for Pfizer’s sub-zero coronavirus vaccine
- Stony Point High School moves to remote classes until Dec. 1 due to COVID-19, district says
- How should we celebrate Thanksgiving during a pandemic? Austin’s top doctor advises us to ‘alter traditions’
- Austin hospitals taking overflow El Paso patients to make room for massive COVID-19 surge
- Second stimulus checks: Biden pushes for Congress to pass relief now
- Home for the holidays? Texas long-term care residents can leave facilities, but with warnings
- Austin faces less than expected demand for its isolation hotel
- Nearly 40 Texas school districts have asked to halt in-person learning for 5+ days due to COVID-19 cases
- UT Austin asks students to quarantine, get COVID-19 tested before Thanksgiving travel
- Llano ISD will go back to 100% remote classes starting Tuesday, joins other districts with COVID-19 closures
- No-cost DIY COVID-19 test available at Palmer Events Center
- 2nd virus vaccine shows striking success in US tests
- Coronavirus invades men’s reproductive organs, can affect their fertility
- BioNTech scientist: Vaccine could halve virus transmission
Week of November 8-14
Dr. Mark Escott, the Austin Public Health interim health authority, issued a warning to the populous of Austin and Travis County that if the recent spike in COVID-19 cases curve can’t be flattened, the holiday season could be a bad one in regards to public health.
“My concern is in the next week to two weeks that we may need to transition into stage four so that we can flatten the curve again,” Dr. Escott said in a Travis County Commissioners Court meeting Tuesday. “Where we are right now is very similar to where we were around June 17-18, where we were two weeks away from hitting our peak.”
Early Wednesday, Johns Hopkins University said Texas is the first state in the country to clear 1 million COVID-19 cases. As of this writing, there are 1,010,422 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Texas and 19,337 deaths.
In other weekly COVID-19 news:
- Austin ISD to roll out COVID-19 rapid testing in phases starting Wednesday
- Biden’s COVID plans supported by US Chamber of Commerce
- How do educators prevent disadvantaged students from COVID-19 impact?
- ‘Bright spot’: Doctor involved in Pfizer trial expresses hope about potential COVID-19 vaccine
- Austin researchers try to predict who will suffer the most from COVID-19
- Study suggests flu shot could lower risk for severe COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations
- Ben Carson tests positive for COVID-19, joins list of other Trump officials to contract virus
- Local COVID-19 new cases rate doubles since early October, health officials call on public to ‘put a lid on it’
- Pfizer says early data signals COVID-19 vaccine is effective
- What the Biden-Harris COVID-19 transition plan may mean for Texas
- Air Force medical teams sent to El Paso to assist three area hospitals with COVID-19 efforts
- New studies show chronic lingering symptoms in some patients post-COVID-19
Week of November 1-7
The Manor Independent School District has shut down two elementary school campuses due to COVID-19, each for two weeks.
A staff member at Lago Elementary School is the latest case in the district to cause a campus shutdown. The district had another case at Manor Elementary Early Learning Center that prompted that campus to close.
As El Paso continues to struggle with the state’s largest current COVID-19 surge, it’s also struggling with keeping nonessential businesses open. El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego ordered the 2-week closure of nonessential businesses since hospitals are at capacity, but Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says the judge doesn’t have the authority to do that due to Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order.
In other COVID-19 related news:
- New studies show chronic lingering symptoms in some patients post-COVID-19
- El Paso asks ‘big box’ retailers to voluntarily limit occupancy, help reduce COVID-19 spread
- Intimate relationships have changed little under pandemic, UT scientists say
- APH reports most active COVID-19 cases since August, urges people to get tested if they went to a party
- Manor ISD reports another COVID-19 case, asks Decker Elementary 3rd graders to self-quarantine
- Study says people at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 at grocery store than on airplane
- Polling places are latest front in the battle over wearing face masks
- Dripping Springs’ Empty Bowls Project goes online for its 23rd year due to COVID-19
- With deadline approaching, Austin expands RENT relief to get millions of funds distributed
- Britain’s Prince William had coronavirus in April, report says
- Gov. Cuomo orders all travelers to New York to get tested for coronavirus
- After the US’s worst week of COVID-19 cases, here’s where your state stands
Week of October 25-31
Halloween is coming up, and once the beginning of November is here, the countdown to major holiday season is on and the COVID-19 pandemic is still here.
Local health officials are recommending families find “alternatives” to traditional trick-or-treating to celebrate Halloween, or else they fear COVID-19 cases could majorly spike by Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Here are other stories related to COVID-19 this week:
- Travis County health experts say local hospitals are prepared to handle spike in COVID-19 cases
- We Are Blood will now antibody test anyone who donates blood
- Khloe Kardashian tested positive for coronavirus
- Austin COVID-19 vaccine trial participant says her side effects are ‘worth it’ for progress
- CVS expanding to use COVID-19 rapid tests, 3 locations in Austin area to offer them
- Austin’s top doctor says projections for Thanksgiving ‘improved’ because of fewer new hospital admissions
- After summer shortage, Texas nursing homes are almost caught up on healthcare supplies
- Travis County bars to remain closed for another two weeks, county judge says
- ‘Covid, Covid, Covid’: Pres. Trump says U.S. numbers improving, claims pandemic coverage will end after election
- Texas State, Texas Tech University systems discuss COVID-19’s impacts on college football
- El Paso setting up field hospitals as facilities fill due to COVID-19 surge
- Capitol Area Council’s first female board president reflects on career; offers COVID-19 updates
- Austin groups get creative to fill gaps in mental health care access
- VP Pence’s top aide tests positive for coronavirus
- Austin Public Health prepares for a future COVID-19 vaccine while Gov. Greg Abbott deploys resources to El Paso
- Biden campaign launches ‘TrumpCovidPlan.com’ — a site that reads ‘Not Found’
Week of October 19-25
- Social distancing at school: How Austin ISD is preparing for more students on-campus
- Austin Public Health prepares for COVID-19 vaccine with ‘distribution coalition’
- Some downtown Austin businesses slowly reopen during COVID-19 pandemic
- 2.8 million flu vaccines headed to Texas for child, adult programs
- US records second-highest daily total of COVID-19 cases
- Healthcare students adjust to COVID-19, train through virtual learning
- FDA approves Gilead’s antiviral drug remdesivir to treat COVID-19
- Central Texas nonprofits face major challenges, but continue to serve community during pandemic
- Lubbock teen survives rare post-COVID-19 sickness
- Texas’ top doctors discuss lessons learned from 1st COVID-19 wave and how it could help possible 2nd surge
- 100-year-old WWII vet born during Spanish flu is staying positive amid COVID-19 pandemic
- COVID-19 in Austin-Travis County: ‘This is not an Election Day gimmick. This is real,’ top doctor warns
- Health leaders warn 2nd wave of pandemic could be a few weeks out in Central Texas
- Definition dilemma among Texas agencies creates confusion for COVID-19 close contacts
- ‘Mask Up, America’ — Infectious Diseases Society delivers message in new campaign
- Texas woman died of COVID-19 on plane, Dallas County judge says
- University of Texas, state health agency launch COVID-19 antibody response survey
- Confirmed world coronavirus infections surpass 40 million, according to Johns Hopkins University
- Some Hays County bars see an uptick in out-of-towners on reopening weekend
- Austin Latino Coalition holds vigil to remember lives lost to COVID-19
Week of October 11-18
- Westlake football suspends practice for a week due to COVID-19 cases
- AISD principal says to give ‘grace’ and a 70 to students if teachers haven’t exhausted all measures
- People with blood type O may be less at risk from COVID-19, new studies find
- Gov. Greg Abbott directs state resources to Amarillo, Lubbock to help COVID-19 surge response
- Austin-Travis County Sobering Center taking in less people, seeing more severe cases during pandemic
- Austin hospitals to help test new COVID-19 treatment
- Texas nursing homes under investigation for giving IV vitamin infusions without doctor’s orders
- Austin music venue owner hoping it’s his turn to receive COVID-19 aid from city
- Two Biden campaign staffers test positive for COVID-19
- As reopening begins, San Marcos bar patrons prepare for possible crowds from Austin
- Basset hounds and beagles trained to detect COVID-19 by using armpit sweat samples
- Here’s which Texas counties chose to reopen bars under Gov. Greg Abbott’s order
Week of October 4-10
On Sunday, President Donald Trump briefly left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and rode in a SUV to wave at supporters while he battles COVID-19.
He rode with three Secret Service members, who were presumably COVID-19 negative before the ride. While President Trump’s supporters undoubtedly appreciated seeing him wave through the beat passenger window of the SUV, one attending physician at Walter Reed did not.
“This is insanity,” tweeted Dr. James P. Phillips. “Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die,” the doctor wrote.
President Trump has been at the facility since Friday evening. He announced on Friday that him, and first lady Melania, both contracted COVID-19. The President was showing “mild” symptoms before he was admitted to Walter Reed.
In other COVID-19 related news:
- White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tested positive for COVID-19
- All 563 Regal Cinemas, including the four in Austin, will temporarily shut down Thursday
- Legendary college football coach Bobby Bowden tests positive for COVID-19
- Austin mayor is “nervous and concerned” about Gov. Abbott potentially reopening bars
- White House aide Stephen Miller tests positive for COVID-19
- If bars reopen, public health officials ask for operational changes
- Hays County hosts free mobile test site in San Marcos
- Weiss HS postpones next two football games after coach tests positive for COVID-19
- Teachers who resigned in PfISD make COVID-19 dashboard they say is more accurate than the district’s
- Stony Point football, volleyball teams have to reschedule games after being told to quarantine
- Twitter flags Pres. Trump posts for “misleading” and “potentially harmful” content
- COVID-19 survivors were not pleased with Pres. Trump’s tweets downplaying illness
- Sisters are now raising kids adopted by late mother after her death from COVID-19
- There were plenty of calls regarding COVID-19 social distancing rules over the weekend, but not many citations
- Texas health care providers must register in order to distribute COVID-19 vaccine
- After the Commission on Presidential Debates said the second debate between President Trump and Joe Biden was going to be virtual due to Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, Trump said he wouldn’t do the debate
- Texas reported its first death related to MIS-C, an illness that comes on after a COVID-19 diagnosis that doctors know very little about
- Central Texas bars can reopen Oct. 14 at 50% capacity if the county judge says it’s OK, Gov. Abbott said Wednesday
- A beautiful mural in Austin honors those Latinos who have died from COVID-19
- Austin Public Health wants bars to make some operational changes once they reopen
Week of September 27-October 3
Early Friday morning, the President of the United States revealed he had COVID-19.
President Donald Trump, along with first lady Melania, contracted the novel coronavirus that causes the disease. Melania has yet to show symptoms while the President was admitted into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that evening.
Last year’s flu season filled up intensive care units and emergency rooms around the area, and now with COVID-19 in town, Austin Public Health officials are urging people to get flu shots before the season begins in earnest.
Leaders have expressed some concern that a “twindemic” will surface, meaning in this case an outbreak of both influenza and COVID-19 happen concurrently and potentially overrun ICU hospital beds. ICUs were already working in surge plans earlier in the COVID-19, but have been able to resume normal operations with normal staffing levels as hospitalizations have decreased.
Here are links to other articles related to COVID-19 for this week:
- The director for the National Institute of Mental Health said those who recover from COVID-19 could develop post traumatic stress disorder from the illness.
- The Food and Drug Administration adds more hand sanitizers to its recall list
- The Center for Disease Control ranks traditional Halloween activities by COVID-19 risk, and let’s just say house parties and trick-or-treating aren’t exactly recommended
- How Texas is becoming a leader in COVID-19 research
- Former N.J. governor Chris Christie tests positive for COVID-19
- Texas officials to provide $3.5 million for nursing homes to improve visitation access
- There were “a lot of lines of transmission” for COVID-19 during UT’s first home football game about a month ago, Austin Public Health officials say
- Vice President Mike Pence and his wife tested negative for COVID-19
Week of September 20-26
President Donald Trump said in a news conference that a COVID-19 vaccine would be available for “every American” by April 2021. He said the government would have 100 million doses by the end of the year, as well.
Trump said he’d deliver the vaccine to people “immediately” as soon as a vaccine gets approval by the Food and Drug Administration.
In other COVID-19 related weekly news:
- Some veterinarian offices are much busier during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Researchers say some children could face heart defects after contracting COVID-19
- The Austin music community needs help, and community leaders are calling on the city to offer some
- Applications for RISE 2.0 money closed Monday, and $10 million is set aside for households who have experienced hardships due to COVID-19
- Austin Independent School District parents have a little longer to make a decision on whether to send their kids back to class or keep them remote
- Saturday appointments are now available to get your driver’s license renewed
- A study says heart problems may linger for for who recover from COVID-19
- Texas State University helping the state recruit 200 new contact tracers
- The CDC doesn’t think kids should participate in traditional trick-or-treating this Halloween
- In Ohio, a confrontation over mask-wearing ended up with a woman being Tased in the stands at a middle school football game
- Many families still aren’t allowed into nursing homes or other long-term care facilities, even after restrictions have been loosened
- Downtown Austin Alliance has a plan to help businesses recover from COVID-19
- Austin City Council extended renter protections related to COVID-19 through the end of the year
- Colleges have seen a slight dip in enrollment, but jump in graduate students
- The 2nd Street District sidewalk sale hopes to being much-needed businesses to the area downtown
Week of September 13-19
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the six-month mark on Sunday. The unfortunate milestone marks the event that has interrupted just about everything on Earth, including local and national economies and the way of life for most of the world’s population.
In the U.S., more than 6.5 million cases have been reported with almost 200,000 deaths from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. In Texas, more than 686,000 cases have been reported with nearly 14,500 deaths.
Prior to the Texas Longhorns season-opening football game Saturday, students who bought ticket packages that included the game had to test negative for COVID-19 Friday before claiming their ticket. Positive results came back. for 95 out of 1,198 students.
Gov. Greg Abbott moved the operating capacity of most businesses to 75%, but is still keeping bars closed as COVID-19 cases are on a downward trend in Texas.
In other weekly COVID-19-related news:
- UT released a schedule and locations of where students can get tested.
- Anti-mask proponents in Indonesia are being forced to dig graves for COVID-19 victims. Seriously.
- Some school districts in Central Texas have launched their own COVID-19 dashboards to track cases, increase transparency.
- The City of Austin is reopening a relief fund for nonprofit organizations affected by COVID-19
- A Williamson County Sheriff’s Office employee died of COVID-19.
- Planning to appeal unemployment benefits decisions with the TWC? Be prepared to be in it for the long haul.
- Psychologists in Texas are worried the suicide rate will go up during the pandemic.
- Here’s hoping new safety measures will allow San Marcos to reopen its river parks, and keep them open.
- RISE 2.0 funds are available to qualifying households through the City of Austin.
- Party’s Over: A huge party in West Campus at the Texas Rho fraternity house was shut down by the Fire Marshal, and people were given citations.
- Texas teachers have reported nearly 3,800 COVID-19 safety violations since in-person classes resumed.
- The Department of State Health Services gives a “more accurate view” of COVID-19 positives with new calculation procedure.
- The Trail of Lights might end up being a drive-thru event this holiday season.
- Could bars open up again soon while cases decline? Gov. Abbott is under pressure to make that call this week.
- We’re halfway through September and there’s still no sign of another stimulus check coming.
- Actor Paul Rudd made this satirical video about reaching young people to wear masks with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Week of September 6-12
With the University of Texas at Austin hosting its first football game of the season Saturday against UTEP, close to 25,000 people will flock to DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium to see the Longhorns in action.
Austin Public Health Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott wishes everyone would do what he’ll be doing Saturday night — watching the game at home on television.
He called having a crowd at the game “concerning,” and with current COVID-19 positivity rates, he said the area can expect to see up to 50 new cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The current positivity rate in Travis County is 4.6%, the lowest it has been since early in the pandemic.
Other COVID-19 related news throughout the week:
- 21 cases of an inflammatory illness in children linked to COVID-19 have been reported in Texas
- After adding off-campus test results, UT’s COVID-19 positives in students jumped 282
- Texas State changed its isolation policy to keep students closer to campus
- An errant email regarding a mask policy made parents of Leander charter school students upset
- The Austin Urban League hosted a PPE distribution event Wednesday
- A woman in the Texas panhandle created COVY, the COVID-19 piñata
- We Are Blood needs convalescent plasma donations for those who have recovered from COVID-19
- A local doctor says getting a COVID-19 test 1-3 days after exposure is “worthless”
- On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott extended the disaster declaration for COVID-19 another 30 days
- Texas health officials are preparing to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of October
- It doesn’t look good for a second round of COVID-19 stimulus checks
- The key to colleges thwarting COVID-19 outbreaks could be in the sewer
- An Odessa man called his wife in the hospital to cheer her up with the help of a mariachi band
- 60 COVID-19 deaths can be linked to college campuses, a report says
Week of August 29-September 5
With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations decreasing in the Central Texas, of course a national holiday rooted in large gatherings is on its way.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler is “nervous” about cases spiking as families undoubtedly gear up for the holiday by gathering en masse, and perhaps contributing to another spike in cases like the area had after Memorial Day.
Two students at the University of Texas at Austin, each living in a different residence hall, were confirmed to test positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
First reported by UT’s student newspaper, The Daily Texan, university spokesperson J.B. Bird confirmed to KXAN that one student in both the Jester and San Jacinto residence halls tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
In other weekly news related to COVID-19:
- Students in a residence hall at Baylor University are being asked to “reside in place” to help slow an outbreak of COVID-19 on campus
- The Houston Astros had its series finale with the Oakland Athletics postponed after a member of the Athletics organization tested positive for COVID-19
- According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 2 million people have recovered from COVID-19 nationwide
- The Llano Independent School District recently changed its policy on face coverings to include all students in the district, including elementary school children
- A pharmacy changed its policy after KXAN’s Wes Rapaport told the story of an elderly woman who couldn’t get her allergy medicine because of an expired driver’s liscense
- Austin City Council sets aside a grant to help people of Asian-Pacific Islander descent get the mental health services they need during the pandemic
- The council also approved more than $800K for high-risk COVID-19 housing in north Austin
- KXAN anchor Sally Hernandez spoke with Alana Rocha of the Texas Tribune about the tools school districts in Texas have to help combat the spread of COVID-19
- On Sept. 2, the University of Texas at Austin reported 42 cases of COVID-19 in students, a huge jump from 17 the day prior
- A UT student was sent to a city isolation facility as they awaited COVID-19 test results
- Should you use face shield instead of a mask? The answer is no.
- Dwayne Johnson, better known from his WWE days as “The Rock,” said he and his family all caught COVID-19 and have recovered
- The CDC is telling states to be ready to distribute COVID-19 vaccine as early as October
- Are people still moving to Austin during the COVID-19 pandemic? The short answer is yes.
- Austin Public Health teamed up with CommUnity Care, Central Health to put on free PPE distribution events
- A law enforcement union wants COVID-19 to be declared a “presumptive illness”
- There are four COVID-19 clusters involving schools in the area, and public health officials have linked some of them to football team workouts.
- COVID-19 cases are spiking at Texas State University
Week of August 22-28
It’s back to school for many universities and local school districts — and learning certainly looks different.
Both Texas State and UT Austin students went back to school — and each university responded to reports of students gathering.
Meanwhile, Austin health officials say they still hope in-person classes will be able to happen Sept. 8 as planned.
“We are winning this battle, but we have to stay the course,” Dr. Mark Escott said. “We have to ensure that we’re in a better place to open schools, and keep them open.”
In other weekly news related to COVID-19:
- Mental health issues are rising among adults during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. A local law enforcement officer says he’s seen an increase in mental health calls.
- Airbnb banned parties and events at its listings and capped occupancy at 16
- Texas State started school Monday. Students have already reported concerns over house parties days before the first day.
- Eight school districts returned to classes Monday, including Johnson City ISD, which said about 80% of students will return to in-person classes.
- UT Austin students started classes Wednesday. Ahead of that first day, KXAN’s Alyssa Goard got a tour of campus and the precautions the university is taking for in-person classes. Meanwhile, Austin’s top doctor sent a letter to sororities and fraternities as videos of gatherings surfaced. The letter reminded those organizations of local COVID-19 orders and said violations could result in punishments.
- Dripping Springs ISD decided to give parents the option for virtual or in-person learning after the first four weeks of virtual school
- Austin and Travis County moved down to Stage 3 of the risk-based guidelines after hospitalizations improved
- As Hurricane Laura prepared to make landfall, evacuees from the coast headed inland, some to Austin. City health leaders said they weren’t excessively concerned that evacuees could spread COVID-19, and said the city has taken precautions.
- Thrall ISD reported one staff member at each of its campuses tested positive for COVID-19. Four other staff members and a total of 54 students have been asked to isolate after officials traced the positive cases’ contacts.
- Austin health officials are still targeting Sept. 8 as the day they allow in-person classes to resume in schools, and the interim health authority says that is a priority as the area’s COVID-19 response moves ahead.
Week of August 15-21
Masks are here to stay, at least until near the end of the year.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler made the decision effective Aug. 16 that the existing mask order, which states people must wear masks outside of the home in public places if social distancing is not reasonably possible is extended until Dec. 15.
People who don’t follow the mask order risk a fine up to $2,000, but as of Aug. 14, Austin police had issued just one citation over the duration of the order.
Travis County officials did the same thing, and in the unincorporated areas of the county, people risk a $500 fine for not wearing masks.
In other weekly news related to COVID-19:
- Austin health officials stress that people “can’t let their guard down” as cases in the area plateau and hospitalizations decrease.
- Thrall ISD welcomed students back to the classroom Aug. 10, and since then a middle school employee has tested positive for COVID-19
- There’s possibly a new strain of COVID-19 in Malaysia, and it seems to be more infectious than the original
- Want to know which Austin breweries are open and have inside seating available to get out of this insane heatwave? We’ve got that
- The City of Austin opened some amenities with restrictions like golf courses, tennis courts, boat launches and others
- Most CapMetro services are returning to normal ridership levels, but there are still some service modifications due to COVID-19
- A 15-year-old Austinite created a company and will donate money she makes from it to COVID-19 relief
- It’s not an ideal situation at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with 135 cases in the first week of on-campus classes. They’ve moved to remote classes now
- Need a laugh after reading all this grim and gloomy news? There’s a giraffe stopping to smell the [roses] flowers in H-E-B. OK, it’s not actually a giraffe, but come on
- Students at UT are moving into residence halls, and as you might have guessed, things are going to work a bit differently this year
- A series of coding errors have led to more than 500,000 COVID-19 cases not being reported by the Texas DSHS
- Staff at UT, not the UT police department, will be responsible for enforcing mask orders on campus
- Is your favorite Alamo Drafthouse theater opening soon? Perhaps.
- New analysis estimates 10.7% of all Texans have contracted COVID-19
- A local gym converted its exercise space into a series of “workout pods”
- COVID-19 became the fourth-leading cause of death in Travis County, passing the number of people who died of strokes based on 2018 data
- Austin Public Health surpassed its testing goals for May, June and July. It completed 39,609 tests in May, 50,910 tests completed in June; and 69,243 tests completed in July.
- Austin Public Health also encouraged people to take part in a free, in-home testing initiative. It said this is specifically designed for people who don’t feel comfortable leaving the house
- Data on COVID-19 cases in Texas childcare centers is available to the public
Week of August 9-15
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott extended the state’s disaster declaration due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it will be in place for at least another month — and will probably be extended again in September.
The disaster declaration allows the state to use whatever resources available to combat the virus that “poses an imminent threat of disaster for all counties in the State of Texas.”
Schools districts around Central Texas started welcoming students back, whether virtually or in-person. Thrall ISD was the first district to ring the bell with classes, both in-person and online, starting Monday.
In other COVID-19 related news this week:
- During a press conference in Beaumont, Gov. Abbott said the state will only classify COVID-19 cases as positive is if the patient takes a viral PCR test that has results confirmed by a lab. He said while Texas is looking to increase testing capabilities with rapid antigen tests, those results if positive will be classified as probable — not positive.
- The City of Buda suspended permits for door-to-door solicitors and will not grant any until the COVID-19 pandemic is declared over and the disaster declaration has been lifted by Gov. Abbott.
- The Texas Workforce Commission is reviewing President Trump’s latest executive order extending unemployment benefits, but states will be on the hook for funding part of it.
- Power 5 college football conferences Big Ten and Pac-12 have postponed their upcoming football seasons and will try to play games in the spring.
- The Big 12, ACC and SEC have released football schedules and plan to play in the fall. The Texas Longhorns will open the season Sept. 12 against the UTEP Miners.
- Gatherings of 10 or more are now allowed in unincorporated areas of Williamson County.
- One Texas lawmaker is calling on Gov. Abbott to direct CARES Act money toward struggling childcare facilities.
- Austin Public Health says there is no need for employers to require proof of multiple negative COVID-19 tests to return to work.
- KXAN reporters Nabil Remadna and Alex Caprariello looked into what plans school districts have when students or staff test positive for COVID-19 while at school.
- Five months into the COVID-19 pandemic, people are still not able to get through to the Texas Workforce Commission to file or check on unemployment benefits.
- Neighbors aren’t happy with Austin Roller Rink’s “Kickin’ It Country Dance Party” nights, but the business says they are within the COVID-19 restrictions
- Austin police officers have issued just one citation for not wearing a mask for the month the ordinance has been in place
- Famed Austinite Matthew McConaughey interviewed the country’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, on Instagram, because of course he did
- This Austinite is encouraged people to take part in “virtual clean-ups” in their neighborhood to spruce them up during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Gov. Abbott warns people of “COVID fatigue” during a press conference in West Texas
- An Austin nonprofit has fears the actual number of homeless students is higher during the COVID-19 pandemic than what is actually reported
- Here’s what a socially-distanced elementary school cafeteria looks like
- As some Texas schools reopen this week, some questions linger about how districts will report COVID-19 cases
Week of August 2-8
The FBI is looking for people who were tested for COVID-19 at a healthcare facility in New Braunfels.
“Authorities have reason to suspect the COVID-19 tests administered at the facility should not have been used to diagnose or rule out an active COVID-19 infection,” FBI San Antonio said.
The FBI in San Antonio says that people who were tested at Living Health Holistic Care in the past couple of weeks to call (210) 225-6741, prompt No. 1. Those who were tested are also encouraged to get another test at their primary care physician, local health department, free-standing emergency room or urgent-care facility.
In other weekly COVID-19 news:
- The Round Rock Hairy Men canceled the final two games of their season, after two team members tested positive for COVID-19
- Government gears are grinding away, delaying the second stimulus package
- An Austin couple just got married, moved into a home, then both came down with COVID-19 within a month
- Due to COVID-19 cases in the area, Austin ISD leadership wants to delay the start of school from Aug. 18 to Sept. 8. The school board will vote on that in a special meeting Thursday
- The Downtown Austin Alliance is leading the efforts with its team members and Austin police officers partnering to hand out the supplies and have socially distanced conversations with people in need
- A football coach at Mason High School tested positive for COVID-19 and is quarantined
- Will Texas’ retirement-eligible teachers go back to the classroom in a pandemic?
- Austin ISD moved the start date for the 2020-21 school year to Sept. 8 and will petition TEA for another four weeks of virtual learning as the area tries to contain COVID-19
- An Oklahoma woman volunteered for a COVID-19 vaccine trial so she could see her grandchildren again
- Texas will now allow some visitors in nursing home, long-term care facilities
- An artist from Austin is helping to ‘keep Austin weird’ with T-shirts to benefit COVID-19 relief campaigns
- Southwest Airlines is changing how it cleans its planes after flights, will now focus on tray tables and lavatories
- The City of Austin is reopening the Live Music Disaster Relief Fund with an easier application process
- Central Texas school districts are figuring out what they’re going to do in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak at school
- A group of freshmen at the University of Texas at Austin created a nonprofit to keep elderly people from getting lonely during the pandemic
Week of July 26-August 1
Austin Public Health and its interim authority Dr. Mark Escott are seeing what they can do about getting more rapid tests for COVID-19, something private healthcare providers have been using for quite awhile during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If we have a test that we can reliably use that we can, you know, provide an answer to someone before they leave our site, we can get a whole lot better control over this for future outbreaks than sending off tests that are going to take three or four, 10 days,” Escott told county commissioners.
Dr. Escott said that the antigen tests aren’t quite as accurate as the PCR tests, which is what APH currently uses. Those results take days to come back after being sent to a lab. Rapid tests typically return results in as little as 15 minutes.
In other weekly COVID-19 news:
- Dr. Escott thinks we should stay on the couch for Longhorns football this fall.
- APH says schools should open at 25% capacity when they first let students in.
- Where COVID-19 cases are falling and growing in Central Texas
- Texas Health and Human Services Commission finally releases COVID-19 nursing home data
- A group of UT freshmen started a nonprofit to keep the elderly from being lonely during the pandemic.
- Baylor is requiring students who return to campus this fall to do so with proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
- Area school districts are starting to set protocols for in case kids test positive for COVID-19.
- 5 Travis County Sheriff’s Office employees, 3 inmates test positive for COVID-19.
- The City of Austin won’t being its employees back to City Hall until at least September.
- The largest COVID-19 vaccine trial in the U.S. is now underway, and they have 30,000 volunteers to test not just for vaccine effectiveness, but for its safety as well.
- The White House and GOP are working on a $1 trillion second stimulus plan.
- KXAN’s Rick Taylor wrote that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said COVID-19 hot spots are becoming much harder to contain due to so much community spread.
- A California man contracted COVID-19 in Italy while on a skiing trip in February, and he eventually had to have most of his fingers amputated due to the virus’ effect on his blood flow.
Week of July 19-25
Austin Public Health reports that 93 babies have tested positive for COVID-19 between April 9 and July 22 in Travis County.
This comes after after Nueces County in Corpus Christi reported 85 infants tested positive for the virus.
As KXAN reported, the state COVID-19 totals don’t seem to reflect these numbers. One doctor we spoke with since recommendations to test the babies of COVID-19 positive moms in the hospital went into effect, she had been seeing more newborns testing positive.
While current data indicates that children are less likely than other age groups to be severely impacted by COVID-19, Austin health leaders in Austin have recently expressed concern about spread of the virus among children, especially as school starts in the fall.
Researchers at the University of Oxford in England say their experimental coronavirus vaccine produced an immune system response in “almost everyone,” they said Monday.
“We are seeing good immune response in almost everybody,” said Dr. Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University. “What this vaccine does particularly well is trigger both arms of the immune system,” he said.
In other weekly news:
- A 5-year-old boy in Dallas is reportedly among the COVID-19 deaths this week. According to Dallas County officials, the boy had been critically ill in an area hospital and also had underlying health conditions.
- The Austin Convention Center is being prepared as an alternate care site to take patients in case local hospitals get overwhelmed with COVID-19. Health officials say they are hopeful they won’t have to use this alternate care site.
- An Austin family welcomed home 75-year-old Martha Stanley 108 days after her COVID-19 diagnosis and recovery. She stayed in the ICU for 68 days and then was transported to a long-term rehab facility, her family says.
- A couple in Kentucky is under house arrest after they refused to sign an agreement with public health officials to restrict their movement after one of them tested positive for COVID-19
- With training camp dates set for NFL teams, the players are still wondering what the league is going to do to keep them safe
Week of July 11-18
Austin Public Health Interim Authority Dr. Mark Escott told Travis County Commissioners he’d like schools to delay the start of in-person instruction to at least September 8, unless schools are prepared to offer online-only classes.
Several school districts, including Austin Indepedent School District, followed Dr. Escott’s suggestion.
Round Rock and Leander ISDs have submitted letters to the Texas Education Agency asking them to rethink reopening plans, and teachers are staging a sit-in Wednesday at the Texas State Capitol to demand a change in plans from the TEA.
Dr. Escott also said that if school was to take place in-person without a vaccine present, 70% of students in Travis County would contract the disease, and potentially more than 1,000 students could die.
- Austin-Travis County EMS leaders say they are working at capacity and fear they won’t have enough ambulances to make calls. To help accommodate the number of patients, an “alternate care site” or temporary field hospital will open at the Austin Convention Center on July 21.
- A vaccine for the novel coronavirus looks promising, and will begin the final stage of testing this month
- An Odessa hospital is calling on retired nurses to come in and help treat COVID-19 patients
- More cases of COVID-19 are popping up in nursing homes in the Austin area
- A 30-year-old man died in San Antonio from COVID-19 after he contracted the disease at a “COVID party.” He thought the disease was a hoax, the doctor said.
- After Houston mayor Sylvester Turner said the Texas GOP couldn’t hold its in-person convention in the city, the party was forced to move it online as the Texas Supreme Court denied a petition to force an in-person convention.
- Federal funding was extended for community-based COVID-19 testing centers in Texas
- The Texas Education Agency announced that Texas classrooms can stay closed for longer than 3 weeks in the fall without losing state funding — if local health officials order it. On Saturday, teachers and school employees rallied at the Texas Capitol to protest Gov. Greg Abbott and the TEA’s plans for reopening schools.
- On Friday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an open letter to religious private schools, saying they can open in the fall regardless of local health orders.
Week of July 4-July 10
Independence Day 2020 passed in a unique fashion, with fireworks lighting up empty streets. A socially distant Fourth of July saw many in Central Texas finding new ways to celebrate the old traditions. The beginning of the week started with a grim warning from Texas Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd: “Mask It or Casket.” Texas Governor Greg Abbott told KXAN News on Wednesday that another shutdown of Texas businesses would be ‘in contradiction’ to his executive orders.
- The Dell Diamond in Round Rock was one of the only fireworks shows in the area that wasn’t canceled and several hundred people traveled from all over to celebrate a socially distant July 4.
- “Mask It or Casket,” Chief Nim Kidd said on Sunday, in defense of Gov. Greg Abbott’s mandatory face mask order in Texas.
- On Monday, KXAN talked to Austinites who were still waiting on their COVID-19 test results, sometimes for over 12 days. KXAN’s Investigative Team learned that wait times depend on where health care providers send them — and then depend on those facilities’ capabilities. Of course, rising demand as numbers surge statewide also contributes.
- Twenty-two Austin Police Department officers tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, the department confirmed this week. Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday said he believes recent protests contributed to the increase in COVID-19 cases. Austin police have not confirmed this, however.
- The University of Texas announced that one of its staff members has died in relation to COVID-19 — it’s the school’s first fatality.
- Gov. Greg Abbott on a second shut down of businesses: “The last thing that we can and should do is to close down. It’s my understanding that the Mayor has made clear that he understands that any attempt to close businesses back down into a lockdown or stay-at-home standard would be in contradiction to my executive order.”
Week of June 27- July 3
Across the state, Texans are starting a new summer month and the third month since Texas shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19. Starting Friday, face coverings are now mandatory across Texas after Thursday’s executive order by Gov. Greg Abbott. With the order, the Governor has brought new dynamics to the July 4 weekend table.
“COVID-19 is not going away. In fact, it’s getting worse,” Abbott said in Thursday’s announcement.
- With covered faces and recommendations to stay home, Texans prepare for an Independence Day that likely will have very little going on, as cities in the Austin area announced the cancellation of July 4 events and closures of city facilities.
- Popular southeast Texas beaches like Port Aransas, Padre Island, South Padre Island and Galveston all put restrictions in place over the weekend to slow the spread of COVID-19. Several of the beaches will close public access over the weekend.
- Travis County officials closed all county parks and boat ramps starting Thursday evening ahead of the holiday weekend.
- Austin’s economy was dealt another big blow on Wednesday, with the cancellation of the Austin City Limits Music Festival. The festival — which generated $291 million for the local economy in 2019 — won’t be held again until October 2021.
- Last week, Gov. Abbott ordered all bars with more than 51% of sales off alcohol to close. In response, the Texas Bar & Nightclub Alliance, in addition to several Texas bar owners, filed a lawsuit against Gov. Abbott. The lawsuit claims that Abbott’s order violates the group’s Constitutional rights to operate their businesses, in addition to discriminating against the bar industry without credible reasoning.
- The University of Texas at Austin released its “Protect Texas Together” plan for the fall 2020 semester. Masks will be mandatory and classrooms will be capped at 40% capacity. In the plan, students will be able to choose if they want to take classes in-person, online or through a hybrid of the two. Tuition remains the same for all three options, the university says.
- At Texas State, nearly 100 faculty members are concerned about the university’s plan to reopen for the fall semester. A couple faculty members told KXAN they believe the university is reopening too quickly and that faculty have been underrepresented in the decision-making process.
- On Tuesday, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in an interview with Fox News that he didn’t need the advice of the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, Anthony Fauci. Patrick said Dr. Fauci expressed concern over the state’s process for reopening during the pandemic. Patrick followed up with — “he (Fauci) doesn’t know what he’s talking about. We haven’t skipped over anything. The only thing I’m skipping over is listening to him.”
- The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) launched a new tool Wednesday to help increase testing capacity. According to Austin Public Health (APH), it is offering free COVID-19 testing, but due to an overwhelming demand, appointments may not be available until up to one – two weeks after the assessment is taken. Local health leaders acknowledged its plan to increase testing in June was a “lofty goal.”
Week of June 22-26
This week, Texas saw a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases, with Gov. Abbott hitting pause on the continued reopening of some Texas businesses.
- As of Friday, June 26, there are 137,624 total cases of COVID-19 in Texas — in addition to 2,324 deaths; 5,102 hospitalizations and an estimated 59,018 active cases.
- Texas beat its own record for most new cases reported in a day three times this week. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, each day broke the previous day’s new case numbers. Friday’s numbers did not top Thursday’s, however, there were still 5,707 new cases reported.
- On Tuesday, the Texas Education Agency announced two new ways state school districts will be able to calculate attendance in the fall. “Synchronous” and “Asynchronous” instruction will allow students to attend class, regardless of whether lessons are prerecorded or broadcast live with interaction.
- On Wednesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was joined by the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut to announce nine states – including Texas – from which residents will be required to quarantine for 14 days upon airport arrival in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. The regulation was a turning tables moment, since Gov. Abbott placed similar restrictions on those three states back in April.
- On Thursday, Abbott issued an executive order immediately suspending hospital elective surgeries in four of the largest counties in the state: Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis. The restrictions were first placed March 13 and then loosened on April 22. Abbott said the halting on Thursday was precautionary and to preserve hospital beds.
- Friday morning, Abbott announced his executive order closing bars at noon and limiting restaurants to 50% capacity to help prevent further spread.
- As of Friday, Harris is the county with the most cases, with a reported total 28,255; 18,183 active cases; and 361 deaths.