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COVID in Austin Update (July 13)

Hope y’all are staying cool! It is 107°F outside as I’m writing this. If you need dinner plans, eggs a la sidewalk is today’s special.

GOP Goes Virtual

The Supreme Court of Texas denied the appeal from the State GOP trying to force Houston to host an in-person convention this week.

As of me writing this, the State GOP announced they will vote to move the convention online tonight.

Schools Going Back?

The national news today is reporting on LA and San Diego announcing they are going to online-only for the Fall.

Within Texas, Laredo and El Paso have worked around TEA in a way by their local health authorities ordering schools to not return to in-person instruction until after Labor Day.

I struggle to stay impartial on this topic. Everyone I know involved in education is concerned and my personal social network echos KUT’s reporting.

The Secretary of Education hasn’t comforted me.

In particular, SecEd speaks of ensuring everyone is in school, but if there are issues, locals should handle it. But there aren’t any details on what does “handling” actually mean?

I’m just not convinced that there is a cohesive and sustainable plan for us to return back in a month. The kids’ health is part of it, but teachers too. I’m concerned for the kids’ mental health—what will teachers disappearing because they need to quarantine impact kids?

While, yes, there will be virtual vs in-person option. Schools fulfill a big role in child care so people can work. There is inherit privileged in being able to choose a virtual option, which I’m sensitive to given the outsized impact that COVID-19 has had on particular socioeconomic groups. I want my kids in school. I just need more than what AISD is able to do (or should do).

Austin Public Health is to be having a meeting about schools this week. If you’d like to contact their director about it, you can do so on the City’s website.

Up IH-35, Round Rock’s school board is asking TEA to not require in-person classes until Austin’s Staging Indicators are at Stage 2 or lower. (We’re currently at Stage 4, flirting with Stage 5).

In the next tweet, they’re encouraging RRISD parents to write to the TEA Commissioner directly at Commissioner@tea.texas.gov

UPDATE:

On the higher education fronts, more Texas schools are trying to figure out how to help international students whose visas are in jeopardy if they end up going to all-virtual learning. As a reminder the Interim Director of ICE stated that the policy—which will require international students whose universities only offer virtual learning or their particular class load is fully virtual—to leave the county is literally just an attempt to encourage universities to open.

State of Texas Data

Today’s report from Texas is of a slow day. New cases hit 5,655, about half of a few days ago. Mondays are usually slow coming off of the weekend.

Also, new case numbers are increasingly less reliable as labs are struggling to keep up. Quest Diagnostics shared that while they turn around Priority 1 patient tests in a day, everyone else is 7 days or longer.

We’ve seen 43 deaths in the last day.

Our hospitalizations were stable, slightly decreasing by 5 to 10,405.

Statewide positivity hit a new high of 16.85%

Travis County (Austin) Data

As part of a Facebook conversation, I did some back-of-the-napkin math for our positivity. Austin Public Health does not release the positivity rate nor the number of tests performed. The State of Texas additional datasets include a county-by-county daily cumulative number for tests and active cases. Looking at the delta of tests between July 5th and July 11th and the delta of active cases between those dates for Travis County, I estimate Travis County’s positivity rate to be 25.75% for that 7-day period.

Travis County saw 657 new cases today, our third-highest single day total.

We saw 3 more deaths. Inpatients jumped up 25 to 459.

The ICU stayed at 151 with one fewer ventilator in use (86).

By Brandon Kraft

My life is an open-source book.

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