WEEKEND READ: COVID-19 cases dropping in Austin area but school worries continue

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FILE – A student wears a face mask while doing work at his desk at the Post Road Elementary School, in White Plains, N.Y., in this Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, file photo. U.S. health officials say the highly contagious delta version of the coronavirus is behind changes to mask guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week announced that fully vaccinated people should resume wearing masks indoors if they live in areas where the virus is surging. CDC officials said new information about the spread of the delta variant forced them to reverse course. The agency also said teachers and students everywhere should go back to wearing masks in schools. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, FIle)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The coronavirus surge continues across Texas, while in Austin-Travis County, some good news could be around the corner.

Earlier this week, health officials announced the area could possibly downgrade to Stage 4 of COVID-19 risk-based guidelines in the near future.

But there could be some monkey wrenches in these hopes.

What could stop the slow drop in cases?

Health officials say area case numbers and hospitalizations are slowly dropping and guidelines for masking and outings could soon relax a bit.

But new cases in schools and post-Labor Day infections could possibly derail that progress, said Dr. Desmar Walkes, the Austin-Travis County health authority.

As of Friday, Austin-Travis County reported 3,236 active COVID-19 cases. There are currently 515 people hospitalized, 220 patients in the ICU and 158 people on ventilators.

School board battles

Locally, a school board meeting in Round Rock broke out into disruption and two men were ultimately arrested in connection with it. On the video, one of the men can be seen being escorted out by police while yelling: “It’s an open meeting! Shame on you. Communist! Communist! Let the public in!”

Masking

Meanwhile, masking is back in place at the school district in Williamson County.

On Thursday, a Williamson County judge issued an order temporarily blocking enforcement of Round Rock ISD’s mask mandate but Friday, a Third Court of Appeals put the hold on a temporary restraining order, allowing it to continue.

AG Ken Paxton announced lawsuits against six school districts last week, including RRISD, over mask rules. Another local district included in that announcement that’s also being sued is Elgin ISD in Bastrop County.

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