In Austin/Travis County, a couple of sets of new orders came down.
Education Beat: Travis County Schools Closed Through September 7
As mentioned yesterday, Round Rock ISD announced it would not seat in-person classes until after Labor Day. Today was a rush of activity with, basically, schools across the state making similar announcements. At this point, I haven’t seen any that extended longer than three weeks, in major part, because the Texas Education Agency will only allow districts to delay re-opening physically by three weeks.
However, Governor Abbott said that will be changing. In his usual TV rounds, Governor Abbott said that the TEA will be announcing an extended phase-in period for in-person instruction. We’ll see what it actually will be.
In either case, all schools within Travis County will not have in-person instruction until after September 7th. Travis County Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott issued a Health Authority Order applicable to all schools, public and private, with any grade Pre-K to 12th grade ordering them closed to physical instruction, including extracurricular activities and sports. Schools have to submit to his office their plans at least two weeks before reopening.
This officially means the first week of high school football won’t happen in Travis County.
I think it is fair to say the outcry against the TEA’s recent guidance has been pretty universal. I would be surprised if schools go back in session at Labor Day given how things look today.
Emergency Rules Adopted
At last week’s City Council meeting, the Council approved an ordinance giving the Health Authority the ability to adopt emergency rules. Failure to comply with the emergency rules could result in a $2,000 fine.
Today, Austin Public Health officially announced the current emergency rules. These are effective immediately until November 12th unless otherwise modified.
The rules, in brief:
- Everyone over 10 needs to wear a mask except those situations that were already announced and a part of the State’s mask mandate.
- No standing or gathering in groups larger than 10.
- Generally, must stay six-feet apart from other people.
- If you have COVID or awaiting results, the entire household must isolate.
- If you’re isolating because of a pending or positive test, must notify a health professional in advance of a visit or the 911 operator if contacting 911. There are some other things too.
- Business must ensure masks are worn and the premises are cleaned per the rules’ instructions.
- Businesses are to conduct health screenings of employees.
- Businesses must comply with and let employees comply with instructions from APH if they test positive.
- Some more specific rules for construction sites and Child Care sites with a positive test must contact APH.
- ICE rescinded their recent instruction to revoke student visas from international students whose universities are going virtual this semester. It was announced by the judge hearing the suit against the Administration filed by Harvard.
- Austin Public Health has published a new map of testing sites in Austin/Travis County.
- Everyone has been pretty focused on the local state senate election and the primary run-offs. I’m not going to cover them except to say that currently Sarah Eckhardt is up in the State Senate 14 special election. She was the Travis County Judge who had announced pre-pandemic she would resign to run for the empty seat. She delayed the resignation due to the pandemic, then resigned and was appointed the COVID point-person for the county.
- Texas Tribute did publish a good piece discussing the high infection rates in prisons—25+% infected in four different prisons.
- They also published another about our current hospital situation. It’s still bad. Down in the Valley, ambulances have waited 10 hours for ERs to have room to accept a patient.
State of Texas
We set a new record with 10,745 new cases today. We edged out yesterday’s positivity record with a new record today at 16.89%.
A record high 10,569 hospitalized.
We saw 87 deaths. A bit off of the record high, but it would have blown away the record if it was a week ago.
Austin (Travis County)
I was trying to be cheerful. I want to bring good news.
We saw 553 new cases today. With yesterday’s 657, it is the second highest two-day total after last week’s ~1400 couplet. We had 7 new deaths.
I was hoping that our hospitalization decrease of the past few days would be the beginning of something. Well, today we have 469 COVID patients hospitalized, which ties for our record.
We have 154 in the ICU, two shy of the record. We have a new record of 92 people on ventilators right now.
At least it hasn’t been spiking upward as fast as it was.
We saw 74 new hospital admissions. Our 7-day rolling average has been right at 70, give or take, for a few days now.
In closing, stay home as much as possible and wear a mask. There’s some initial research suggesting that the virus may be able to persist in the air longer than previously thought, so while masks can absolutely help, nothing is more effective than staying at home.