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COVID in Austin Update (July 2)

New Orders

Masks! Masks! Masks!

Governor Abbott has issued a statewide mask mandate. GA-29 requires masks in all public areas—inside or outside—with some exceptions:

  • Under 10 years old.
  • Medically unable to wear a mask.
  • While eating, drinking, exercising (while keeping distance), driving alone or only with your family, swimming, giving a speech, etc.
  • Religious services, though still encouraged.
  • Voting, though still encouraged.
  • When security requires you to show your face (e.g. a bank, TSA checkpoint at an airport, etc).
  • Personal care to the facial area (e.g. dentist appointment).
  • Or a county with less than 20 active cases. Which aren’t any around here. Counties have to opt-out of it with a form to the state, it isn’t automatic.

Penalties include a fine, but no jail. Though, if a business asks you to leave for not wearing a mask, normal trespass laws still apply, so if you’re a punk about it, be aware. But don’t be a punk about it.

Separately, he also issued a proclamation to amend a previous executive order allowing local authorities to limit outdoor gatherings of 10 or more. Currently, Travis County (following the previous allowed amount) has prohibited gatherings of 100+, so a new order from the locals will probably come later today or tomorrow I’d reckon.

City of Austin to close parks for July

After already closing down park features for the holiday weekend, the City announced that they will close park features and city-run summer camps for the month of July.

As part of a memo to the mayor and council, the city manager reports a few changes. There are more, but the notable ones to me:

  • Parks and Rec to, basically, close for the month of July. After the holiday weekend, trails are open with distancing required. Playground, pools, etc will be closed.
  • Austin Resource Recovery (sanitation) will again suspend curbside bulk pickup. Regular trash, recycling, and compost service continues without change. If you got a notice that your curbside service is coming up, they will still honor those notices. If you didn’t get a postcard yet, you won’t for the time being.

Other News

Data

State

On the state level, we set another new record of hospitalizations at 7,382 (+478). Thankfully, the state’s daily new cases slightly declined to 7,915 (-161), which is still the 2nd highest daily count by a thousand. Positivity is still high—over 13%.

Hays County (San Marcos)

After the initial shocking spike, things seem to be quieting down, though still very high. I’m glad they aren’t increasing and setting new case records right now, but let’s hope that downward trend goes way down.

Williamson County (Georgetown/Round Rock)

Similarly, new cases aren’t rising, but they aren’t really going down all that much yet either. Today was the lowest number in awhile. I don’t know if there’s an underlying reason (e.g. testing access?) or what. We’ll see how it trends over the next week or so.

The county reported a record-high hospitalization level. I don’t pay close attention to Williamson County since Austin/Travis County includes the five-county MSA, including Williamson.

Travis County (Austin)

So. I wrote the above about Hays and Williamson County before Travis released their daily numbers. I was feeling a little good seeing a little tiny bit downward motion.

Then, I saw today’s Travis County dashboard.

We added 571 new cases, making it five days above 500.

We saw 5 new deaths, putting us to 133 total. Seeing daily numbers of deaths at 4, 3, 4, 5 is worrisome, like I mentioned yesterday. We did have one time hitting six in a single day earlier in the pandemic, so it isn’t a record. But, I’m nervous. I really really am hoping that our deaths won’t begin to increase and that our care of the elderly will be the difference.

We had a record 71 new hospitalizations, putting today’s census count at 415, jumping up from yesterday’s 376.

We’re also at a record 145 in the ICU and 70 on vents.

We’re probably going to see a bit more of this trend until the more recent changes (bars closing and now masks) make an impact, so hold on tight.

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By Brandon Kraft

My life is an open-source book.

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