AUSTIN (KXAN) — New cases of COVID-19 are significantly higher this week in Central Texas, spiking at a time when the state will allow stay-at-home orders to expire on Thursday. Starting Friday, many businesses will be allowed to reopen with restrictions, including malls, retail stores, dine-in restaurants and movie theaters.
Since Sunday, the 15-county area surrounding the greater Austin area has averaged 82.8 new COVID-19 cases every day. That’s 18 more cases per day than the second highest week, which was from April 12-18.
Mason County went from just 5 cases to 17 cases on Wednesday, as the Mason mayor and other city officials confirmed they tested positive. Williamson County had its two largest single-day increases this week, 51 on Sunday and then 25 on Monday after an outbreak at a nursing home.
It’s important to note that testing capabilities continue to improve, so even though cases are going up, county leaders say the percentage of those testing positive has shrunk. Almost all medical experts though expect a second surge of cases as the state relaxes social distancing rules.
Last week, Central Texas saw its first week-to-week drop in new COVID-19 cases, falling from a high of 64.7 new cases per day to 59 new cases per day. The number of new deaths has stayed relatively flat for three weeks, hovering around 2.4 new deaths per day.
Travis County’s curve mostly flat for three straight weeks
Despite the increases in surrounding counties, Travis County — which leads Central Texas both in number of cases and number of deaths — has remained relatively flat in April. It still averages though between 40 to 50 new cases every day, by far the most in the area.
The number of new deaths in Travis County spiked in mid-April to more than two new deaths a day but it too has stayed flat since then.