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COVID in Austin Update (July 27)

After going nearly 40 days with daily updates, I’ve been a little lax. A combination of having a recuperating wife at home and news is a bit light on the weekends.

This is going to be here awhile.

Governor Abbott issued two orders today that helps underscores that he’s expecting the virus to remain an issue for sometime to come.

First, he waived certain grade-promotion requirements tied to the STAAR exam. The standardized tests in Texas public schools starting in 3rd grade become part of the requirements to promote to the next grade, but not this year. Kids have to take the exams, but 3-8th graders won’t be held back if they don’t pass.

Secondly, he issued a proclamation to extend Early Voting for the November elections an extra week. Gov. Abbott’s perspective has been that mail-in ballots are problematic, but we can mitigate the issues with the virus by extending early voting, thus allowing people to vote in less crowded conditions.

In either case, this is the first real sign that he’s not expecting things to be back to normal anytime soon.

Baseball

On the local front, the youth baseball league I help run received word from Austin’s Parks and Rec that our facilities will be closed through September 8th. Previously, we were ordered closed until July 31. In our case, we’re a private non-profit that has a contract with the City to run youth sports on city parkland at Bartholomew Park, so they can order us closed.

On the national front, I’m sure most of y’all saw that the Miami Marlins have a bit of an outbreak on their hands with about a dozen players testing positive. As of tonight, MLB says this isn’t the nightmare and play will proceed.

State Releases Nursing Home Data

After a bit of legal back and forth, the State via HHS will be releasing facility-level information on known cases. You can download Excel spreadsheets for nursing or assisted living facilities from the HHS site.

State of Texas Data

This has been frustrating over the weekend.

Due to changes in who and how hospitals report census information to, the State has had incomplete hospitalization information since July 23rd.

It’s kinda pointless to talk about it. We have at least 9,781 COVID hospitalizations in Texas, but that’s only with 82% of hospitals reporting.

Our statewide positivity rate continues to decline—13.22% now.

New cases seem to have peaked, with a 4,267 reported today.

On the deaths front, DSHS changed the way they tally these numbers. Before, each local jurisdiction reported deaths up to the state based on what they’ve confirmed to be a COVID death.

As of today, they are updating to only report those deaths that are listed as COVID on the death certificate using that data. The plus side means the state can have demographic data a bit faster.

However, it means we’ve been unreporting deaths as there are more based on the death certificate than the previous method. Yesterday, the tally was just over 5,000 deaths. Now, it is about 5,700.

Travis County (Austin)

Generally speaking, we’re still heading in a good direction and we’re probably the best-managed major city in Texas right now.

Today, we saw 240 new cases or 275.57 based on a 7-day rolling average. Yesterday’s 262 7-day average (yesterday was an incredibly low 79 new cases) was the lowest since June 23rd.

We have 390 in the hospital—lowest since July 1. We have 140 in the ICU and 97 on ventilators. Hospital admissions are down to 47/day 7-day averag—lowest since June 24.

Deaths continue to be at a high. Another double-digit day today with 11 deaths, keeping our 7-day rolling average above 6 deaths/day.

All in all, we are slowly looking a little bit better. I’m hoping that we al continue to use best practices to stop the spread and not require additional orders. 🤞

By Brandon Kraft

My life is an open-source book.

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