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COVID in Austin Update (July 15)

Schools could be virtual all semester. New state and county records.

More Education News

Word on the street is TEA will now allow districts to go virtual for the entire fall semester—if ordered to do so by the local health authority. Apparently, TEA will announce this in revised guidelines tomorrow. I’m curious to read the fine print.

Houston ISD released their reopening plan, which is the most extreme I’ve seen so far. Virtual classes will begin September 8th and in-person instruction won’t resume until October 19th.

Starting on October 19th, parents can choose in-person or virtual instruction for the remainder of the fall semester or the entire school year—ending June 11, 2021. Whichever option, parents are committing for the six-week grading period.

While speaking of Houston, Rice University will be teaching in tents when classes resume next month. Personally, I would ignore the haters they quote. I’m not sure why news outlets think I want to hear opinions from random people. That’s what a personal website is for :).

From experience at conferences, I ate all my meals at a conference with nearly 1,000 people in an outdoor tent in September in Florida that was fully enclosed with AC. I’m not sure exactly what they’re buying, but “tents” can be relatively fancy.

In more higher education news, Texas A&M System will provide 15,000 COVID tests each month, distributed to their 11 campuses. The California testing company committed to having results within 30 hours of receipt, which is a far cry from the 7-10+ days regular folks are seeing now. It’s unclear how many of the system’s 150,000 students will be returning to the classrooms next month.

State of Texas

Texas saw a record high number of new cases and deaths today. 10,491 new cases. 110 new deaths.

Our positivity rate stays very high. Practically tied with yesterday’s record. 16.89% yesterday, 16.81% today.

Hospitalizations remain high at 10,471, down 98 from yesterday’s record high.

Travis County (Austin)

In a briefing today, Austin Public Health confirmed that the Austin Convention Center Field Hospital will be operational next week. It will not have ICU capabilities, but will be able to take regular COVID patients. Hospitals can send to the ACCFH to help make more space on-site for more critical COVID patients or to possibly expand their ICU capacity. The latter always sounds good, but relies on having staffing.

While our hospitalizations have flattened a bit, it did so at still really high levels, so long-term, it is straining.

Speaking of facilities, the isolation facility has 87 folks occupying it right now. It is a city-leased site where folks can stay during their isolation period if their homes are not suitable—notably with a separate bedroom and bathroom different than anyone else in the home would be using. While there is still plenty of space in it, the City is preparing to sign a lease for a second facility to ensure they can handle any increase.

In terms of our daily numbers, everything is bad news today:

  • 572 new cases.
  • 4 deaths.
  • 492 hospitalized (new record, +23 from yesterday’s record-tying census).
  • 159 in the ICU (new record).
  • 97 on ventilators (new record) .

By Brandon Kraft

My life is an open-source book.

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