Health officials unsure how winter weather will affect COVID-19 in Travis County

Coronavirus

The Austin Public Health COVID-19 vaccine registration portal pulled up on a laptop. January 19, 2020. (KXAN Photo/ Alyssa Goard).

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Depending on perspective, last week’s historically-cold winter storms could have been a great thing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — or it could have encouraged it.

Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County’s interim health authority, said Monday the winter weather could be interpreted two ways when it comes to COVID-19.

“It’s uncertain how the recent weather events will impact the spread of COVID-19,” Escott said. “On one hand, we have a very effective stay-at-home measure for multiple days, which may improve the situation, however this may lead to an increase in close gatherings with those who needed to seek warm shelter with friends, family or neighbors.”

The county’s COVID-19 dashboard won’t reflect accurate information until Feb. 27, Austin Public Health says. On the dashboard itself, it says there were inaccuracies in reporting during the week of the winter storms that punished the area, so it will be another week for the county to get accurate data. The dashboard reports 35 new hospital admissions and 272 new cases for Sunday.

Before the data stall, the rolling average of new hospitalizations was trending downward, as was the rolling average of new COVID-19 cases.

APH expects to receive another allotment of 12,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, but all appointments set for the week during the storms will have to be rescheduled. APH has repeatedly said they will reach out to those who need appointments rescheduled with options.

Dell Medical School is receiving 5,850 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and Seton Medical Center is getting 3,000 Pfizer doses.

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