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COVID in Austin Update (June 19)

Off of yesterday’s report from the Governor Abbott that schools will be in session without masks or testing, Austin ISD released a statement:

Austin ISD has planned extensively for reopening schools on Aug. 18 with guidance from state and local authorities and health officials, working to ensure that health and safety procedures are in place. 

We have been using what we learned from our students, staff and families to create a hybrid learning model that includes in-person and virtual learning for the fall. Our families want choice for in-person and virtual learning.

This model is designed to support the health and safety of our staff and community and the learning needs of our 81,000 students and their families. We are eager for additional guidance from the Texas Education Agency.

In short, they’re trying to calm the waves of parents who I’m sure aren’t ready for decisions regarding the next semester as our trends are what they are.

On the State level, no shocker here. New record-high hospitalization at 3,148. Daily cases were 3,454, slightly down from yesterday’s record of 3,516. We’ve officially hit 100,000 cases in Texas. Our fatalities aren’t really notable yet. Not a record, but the trend isn’t great.

The Texas Tribune reported today that, statewide, cases at child care centers have started increasing at the same time that the licensing agency reversed the required emergency protocols. I need to dig to find if that information is published. Our own preschool has seen a massive drop in attendance, but that is in major part to having the privilege of being able to work from home and figure out alternative arrangements. My opinion is this is another example of economic injustice resulting in physical harm, as the majority of kids in child care are those without other options.

In another example of things that don’t make sense, Texas Motor Speedway announced that the July 19 NASCAR race held there (postponed from March) will be the first major sporting event in Texas with fans present. There will be social distancing, encouragement to wear a mask, and a new Assumption of Risk.

This doesn’t directly impact Texas (yet), but Apple will close their stores in a number of states with an increased number of infections. If you need to get something from Apple and need to do it in-store, wear a mask and do it now. I’d bet Texas will be coming soon.

Quick update on Hays County, only 103 cases today, which would have been an all-time high a week ago. Only the 5th-highest single-day caseload now. I’d expect it to be a blip and the trend to continue upward, but let’s hope the last week was the blip.

Harris County (Houston): Texas Medical Center reported concern that the trajectory suggested ICU capacity could be exceeded in two weeks. The chart of new cases from the Greater Houston area (Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, and Waller counties) is sobering. Harris County is now also requiring businesses to require masks.

Moving back to Travis County, Austin Public Health is expanding testing to include new mobile sites for those who may not be able to travel to the drive-through or CommUnity clinics. Online registration remains open or you can call 512-972-5560 (8-6 M-F, 9-1 Sat) to schedule a test.

I’m sure a lot more of these stories will come out in the weeks and months to come, but KUT had an interesting report about Austin’s attempts—and many failures—to secure more N95 masks.

Last thing I’ll mention on the local news front is Alamo Drafthouse announced that when they re-open, masks will be required. While they have to either way in Austin, this is more directly a response to the AMC Theatre chain indicating they wish to not get into the political debate and not require masks. AMC, within 24 hours, reversed course and will require masks.

On to Austin’s numbers. They pain me and are confusing, so here they are straight:

Today’s new case count was 295. I don’t know if this combines yesterday’s unreported number or not. The dashboard doesn’t give information about yesterday at all

UPDATE: Clarification from the City. There has been 295 new cases since the last data drop on Wednesday evening. They did not disclose yesterday vs today, so I’m going to count both as 147.50 cases each of the last two days. If we look at 295 cases as being over two days, it is a decline of new daily cases from the 220 we saw on Wednesday.

With the 295, our total case count is 5,286.

We had 34 hospitalizations today, a new record, which brings up our 7-day average to 27.7. We have 173 in the hospital, a new high. 64 in the ICU, a new high. 27 on ventilators (not a high).

UPDATE: Mayor Adler reported that yesterday’s hospitalization admission number as actually higher than originally reported. Yesterday was and still is the record for COVID at 36.

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By Brandon Kraft

My life is an open-source book.

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