KXAN Austin

Austin eases restrictions, moves to Stage 3 of risk guidelines on 1-year anniversary of first case

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Public Health moved the Austin-Travis County area down to Stage 3 on its risk-based guidelines Saturday morning. This comes on the one-year anniversary of the first case in the Austin area.

These risk-based guidelines do not change any state or local orders, but they do give people a better idea of ways to stay safe. Austin and Travis County had been in Stage 4 since Feb. 9 after being in Stage 5 from Dec. 23, 2020 through Feb. 8.

Stage 3 recommendations include the following:  

A look back at the first Austin case that shut down Travis County

Few could have anticipated one year ago, on March 13, 2020 what the next year would hold when Austin and Travis County got its first case of COVID-19.

“Austin and Travis County has joined a seemingly growing number of cities and counties that have positive cases in their area,” interim Austin health authority Dr. Mark Escott said at the time.

By the end of the day, Austin had confirmed its first three cases. It triggered the shutdown of schools. Students wouldn’t return to class for months. Some have never returned even one year later.

Empty shelves at H-E-B on March 13, 2020.

That same day, Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state disaster. At that time, Texas could only test 273 people a day for COVID-19. Texas shut down or restricted nursing homes, living centers, and day cares to visitors.

The governor said there was “no need to stockpile supplies,” but that didn’t stop people from flocking to grocery stores, creating a run and shortages on toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning wipes, and hand sanitizer.

It took nearly a full year to reopen Texas, but even that has been controversial as Austin and Travis County refused to adhere to the governor’s order lifting mask restrictions and capacity limits on businesses.

Fully vaccinated people in Travis County will likely pass 100,000 Saturday

As of Saturday, March 13, 2021, Texas had administered the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to more than 5 million Texans and nearly 2.7 million Texans are fully vaccinated.

In Travis County, 208,392 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine with 99,328 people fully vaccinated. Travis County will likely hit that benchmark of 100,000 people fully vaccinated later Saturday.

Texas has shipped out more than 9 million doses of the COVID-19, but KXAN’s Jennifer Sanders reported Thursday that next week’s shipment will be far fewer doses. That has caused many places — including Austin Public Health — to not move forward on Monday with vaccinating people age 50-64.