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.


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. 🤞

COVID in Austin Update (July 24)

Sorry for missing yesterday! My wife had an urgent surgery yesterday—they waited until the next day to do the surgery, so I guess “emergency” isn’t the right term?

I’m going to reverse order and start with the numbers today.

Travis County (Austin)

I want to start on a solemn note. Today, we had 12 deaths, the highest single-day report and the first time we had a double-digit report. After 7 deaths yesterday, our 7-day rolling average is 6.4 deaths per day.

Continuing the trend, while our deaths are the longest-lag so are only now going up after our earlier hospitalization spike, the most of our numbers continue to trend well.

July 23July 24
New Cases243238
Inpatients438423 (lowest since July 3)
Ventilators111 (record)102 (sadly, this decline is likely related to our death count)
New Hospital Admits5647 (7d-avg down to 57.3, lowest since June 27)
Deaths712 (record)

Austin Public Health did report to KXAN that over 90 infants have tested positive in Travis County. I share it only to say that people of all ages can catch the virus. I don’t think it is anything to be scared about.

State of Texas

Similar to the Austin report, deaths are high. 196 deaths today in Texas from COVID-19, one under the record from two days ago. We’ve now had 4,717 die in Texas from it. Over 550 of them in the last three days alone. Looking at the 2017 data and same when exploring the 2018 data, this would put COVID-19 at the 8th highest cause of death in the state and we still have a lot of year left.

On the data front, annoyingly, due to the federal data reporting changes, we apparently don’t know how many people are in the hospital in Texas anymore.

For the last two days, DSHS indicated they had incomplete data from hospitals. So, we know that at least 10,036 people were in the hospital today with lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19. The state does not have 10% of hospitals reporting data.

10,036 is about 50 under the record from a couple days ago, so we are probably continuing to hold relatively steady from the statewide view.

On the positivity rate front, we’re at 13.73% statewide (based on a 7-day rolling average). Our ideal is ~5% and our “alarm status” starts at 10%, so we’re still too high. It’s better, though, than the 17.43% we saw on July 16th.

We had 8,701 new cases which looks like the state, as a whole, may be starting in the right direction (masks work!)

New cases by day (bar) and 7-day average (line)

I’ve said a few times things like “the state, as a whole”, because Texas is a big state and we’re not uniform in how the virus is impacting our communities. The Rio Grande Valley and Corpus are still getting hit hard.

Corpus Christi is also now having to deal with what will likely be Hurricane Hanna coming in tomorrow afternoon and the track looks like it’ll move over the RGV afterwards. If this was a weather blog, I’d mention this is the earliest we’ve had an “H”-named storm, beating out the previous record holder–Harvey.


Just in brief. Harris County (Houston) has officially delayed in-person instruction until after Labor Day after previously only suggesting it.

Dallas, while delaying in-person instruction through a county order, is seeing their Catholic schools going back early. The Texas Attorney General issued an opinion that religious schools were exempt from local orders (in line with Governor Abbott’s exclusion of religious worship from pandemic orders).

No Evictions in Austin

After Travis County banned evictions, Austin followed suit. Evictions—unless the order is modified—can not resume until September 30th.

Austin Convention Center Field Hospital

The ACCFH, as I call it, is now ready to be activated. It is fully ready to take in 100 patients, but since our hospitalizations have—knock on wood—appeared to have peaked, we’re all hopeful that it won’t be needed. Of course, UT dorms are still expected to open in less than a month and we’ve seen how fast things can change.

Wear A Mask

A bit of language, but I appreciated this take.

COVID in Austin Update (July 22)


To catch up with links from yesterday, UIL released updated calendars for the fall activities. Gov. Abbott during his nightly television interviews also said that if districts/health officials wanted to delay activities further, that is fine by him. Basically, he said it should be a local decision.

When Gov. Abbott isn’t treating the virus like a political football, he’s actually not horrible at this.

In other news, the Southwestern Athletic Conference, which includes Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern, has announced they are moving football to the spring this year. The Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, which includes Texas Lutheran, announced it won’t hold Fall sports this year.


While Travis County schools are physically closed until after Labor Day, Tarrant County (Fort Worth) will keep schools physically closed until September 28th. Harris County (Houston), one of the harder hit areas, only suggested schools take advantage of TEA’s 8-week allowed phase-in (four week automatically allowed + four additional weeks allowed via school board vote), but is not mandating it. (Houston ISD had already announced they will waiting six weeks at this point.)

Rental Assistance

The City of Austin is making $13 million available to help with rental assistance and Travis County will extend the ban on evictions through September 30th.

Travis County won’t let new notices to vacate—the first step of the eviction process—be filed until then. The various JP courts have also paused existing eviction processes until the end of September.

State of Texas

  • 9,879 new cases today.
  • 197 new deaths—a new record (previous 174 on the 17th).
  • 10,892 hospitalized—a new record.
  • 14.18% positivity.

Sharing a few graphs now.

New Cases

All in all, I’m encouraged. We are still very far from over, but masks work. Hopefully it is enough and we won’t need additional orders.

Travis County (Austin)

Since I missed a full report yesterday, I’ll report both days’ numbers:

MetricJuly 21July 22
New Cases603302
Deaths9 (record)4
ICU153160 (record)
Ventilators106111 (record)
Hospital Admits5758
7 day rolling avg63.460.6

How to break this down? In short, we are trending better, but we aren’t out of the woods.

Our new cases, based on 7-day rolling average:

Hospitalizations have flat-lined, but new admissions have been slowly dropping. Deaths are still rising, but I’d expect that to lag just a bit behind the others.

We’re still far from being out of the woods. Not at all time to back off yet, but what we’re doing does seem to be making some difference.

I don’t want to minimize things. They’re still bad. Hospitals are still strained. The Austin Convention Center Field Hospital hasn’t opened because, in part, staffing concerns. with the City’s medical professionals overtaxed.

But, maybe there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Not Really A COVID in Austin Update (July 21)

This isn’t really my normal update. Someone in the family is under the weather and the doctor’s appointment turned into a long ER visit. Everything is fine now and nothing COVID related, but it’s past 10 pm and I haven’t had dinner. Forgive me!

Quickly, though, in passing, UIL announced guidelines for fall sports in Texas public schools. For the larger 5A and 6A schools, fall sports are delayed until later in September. Smaller schools can start on time (beginning of August for practices).

Eastside High is the only 4A school that I can think of off the top of my head in AISD that could start in August, but the County Health Order already will force them to wait until after Labor Day anyhow since it suspends extracurricular activities too.

All schools, though, must wait for marching band. No band camp this year.

Meanwhile, California announced fall sports will start in 2021.

In terms of numbers, Texas hospitalizations hit a new record high and our deaths were high again. I’ll recap everything in full for tomorrow’s post.

Within Austin, we had 600 and someodd cases. Hospitalizations and hospitalization admits were still lower than we had been seeing. Deaths, though, we saw 9 of them reported today. That’s a single-day high.

As deaths are the metric with the longest lead time, it makes sense we’re going to see increasing and higher deaths for some time until the flattening/decrease catches up.

Anyhow, back tomorrow in normal fighting shape.

COVID in Austin Update (July 20)


Really, I didn’t see that much come across my desk that I thought was COVID notable today.

State of Texas

Mondays are often slow coming off the weekend.

  • 7,404 new cases.
  • 62 deaths — we now have over 4,000 lab-confirmed deaths in Texas.
  • 10,569 in the hospital. A slight decrease. We’re seemingly maybe flattening the curve.

This doesn’t take into account specific areas. I’m hearing personal accounts that the RGV is still really struggling within the clinical environments.

Travis County (Austin)

Today, while Monday, dare I say look mostly good.

  • 145 new cases. Lowest since July 4th, which itself was an oddball. June 22nd was the date before that we had a lower number.
  • 6 deaths. That’s not good. 5.29 is now our 7day rolling average, a new record high.
  • 480 in the hospital and 158 in the ICU. Exactly the same as yesterday which strikes me as odd. I’ll check later tonight and update in case there’s some delay there.
  • 108 on vents, slightly lower, which I don’t really think of that good of a sign given 6 deaths.
  • Only 43 new admissions. Our lowest since June 22nd. The average there fell to the lowest since July 1: 65.8.

Sharing Without Comment

Or without much of one.


COVID in Austin Update (July 19)

Education Beat

While TAPPS—the coordinating body for private schools—announced that Fall sports will begin in late September, we expect UIL—the coordinating body for public schools (and a couple of private schools who have opted into competition against public schools)—will be meeting tomorrow to decide the next plan for Falls sports.

With the Travis County Health Order, the start of the season is already cancelled until after Labor Day.

Send in the Navy!

The Navy has sent medical personnel to south Texas—Harlingen, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, and Rio Grande City—to augment local staffing due to the crush of hospital patients.

The Austin Convention Center Field Hospital opens tomorrow, but it may not see patients. Thankfully, our hospitalization rate has stopped climbing so fast. Hopefully the field hospital and the extra morgue trailers we have on hand from FEMA aren’t needed.

There was a since-deleted post from someone claiming to be a nurse at St. David’s South Austin Hospital (near S. 1st and 290) who made the situation there sound dire. KVUE confirmed from one of their sources that the details were accurate and reposted the post.

I don’t share this to drive up fear or anything like that. Only that while I talk about numbers on a daily basis, there are real people behind those numbers—not just the 400 and something currently in the hospital, or the 70 a day being admitted into one, or the 200+ people who have died—but those who are maintaining the health care system.

Staying home and wearing a mask helps everyone by keeping people from needing to add more stress on the system yes, but more importantly, the individuals who make up the system.

Support Local Media

Just a quick shout out for KUT.

I’ve been following Matt for awhile and a number of other KUT reporters. While I personally review a lot of the different datasets on a regular basis, I don’t do it daily. I’d miss things like noting that yesterday’s 239—while sounding low—was only based on about 1000 tests, giving us a 24% positivity, which is bananas high.

KUT announced they are starting voluntary furloughs and early retirements due to budget shortfall. As a non-profit public service funded primarily by the community, if you’re a listener and able to donate or donate more, head that way.

State of Texas

  • 7,300 new cases—a big drop, but Sunday/Mondays typically are low due to the weekend.
  • 93 new deaths reported. A bit lower than the last few days, but would have been a record high about a week ago.
  • 15.03% positivity. Lowest we’ve seen in the last 10 days, but still way about the 10% “red alert” line.
  • 10,592 hospitalized. This is stable—only less than 100 fewer than yesterday.

Travis County (Austin)

  • 192 new cases (weekend dip).
  • 0 deaths. First no-death day in about 10 days. Could be lack of reporting due to the weekend.
  • 480 hospitalized.
  • 158 in the ICU—over a week we’ve stayed in the 150s.
  • 110 on ventilators, a new record high.
  • 63 new admissions, making our 7-day average 69.4.

In Closing…

Did y’all see the Fox News interview with President Trump this morning? I try to stay reserved and don’t get too political in these posts.

But, the President is living in a different reality than the rest of the country. Vox reporter Aaron Rupar tweeted out a good number of clips from it—I couldn’t immediately find the full interview on the Fox News website. Click through the Twitter for a full thread of clips.

The claim that our increase of testing is why our numbers are spiking just isn’t true. Yes, our testing has increased, but our number of cases have increased faster. Hospitalization rate isn’t due to testing.

While the New York area, which really got slammed very hard when much of the country was spared, is doing much better, the southern states (at least) are all doing far worse than we were earlier in the pandemic.

Seeing how impacted we all are by this, how strained our medical system is, how supply chain and testing chains are stretched, and seeing that not only is there no leadership coming out of Washington on this topic, but there isn’t even awareness of reality. That’s getting to me maybe even more than the mitigation efforts we’re doing in La Casa de Kraft.