AUSTIN (KXAN) — KXAN is keeping track of COVID-19, the disease caused by the 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 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.