WEEKEND READ: COVID-19 cases soar, Austin-Travis County ICU bed capacity shrinks, Longhorns move, Texas is sued

Travis County

A hospital bed (Nexstar, file)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Just one week after Austin-Travis County moved to Stage 4 COVID-19 risk based guidelines, cases numbers and hospitalizations have nearly tipped the area into Stage 5.

As of Friday evening, Austin Public Health reported there were only about 16 ICU beds available for nearly 2.3 million people in region. APH says numbers like these haven’t been seen since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Austin-Travis County hits Stage 5 threshold

With numbers on the rise and hospital capacity dwindling, APH is now recommending vaccinated people begin utilizing drive-through and curbside dining options and limiting social groups. Mask wearing indoors is now recommended even for those who are vaccinated.

For the partially or unvaccinated, APH says travel, dining and shopping should be avoided. Masks should be worn.

Virtual learning is back

In response to the increasing concern about community transmission, several Central Texas school districts announced they’d offer virtual options for the fall semester — a stark change from just weeks ago when it was thought all classes would be in person.

This includes Austin Independent School District, which is offering kindergarten through sixth grade students the option to learn from home. AISD says it’s currently only planning a virtual option for the first semester of the 2021-22 academic year.

The U.S. v. Texas

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice sued the state of Texas to block an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott that directed state troopers to pull over drivers transporting migrants who may be carrying COVID-19.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland called the order “dangerous and unlawful.”

Abbott’s order dictates that if migrants that are stopped can’t be transported elsewhere, they’ll have to stay in Border Patrol facilities.

Longhorns leaving Big 12

This week, the Texas Board of Regents approved the University of Texas at Austin’s decision to move the Longhorns to the Southeastern Conference.

The SEC voted 14-0 on Thursday to extend an invitation to Texas and Oklahoma State University.

The Horns will start training camp Aug. 6.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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