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.
Only related because I’ve been talking about it. The GOP State Convention voted to conduct the rest of their convention later after a pretty royal screw-up of their technology. The state chairman was voted out as well. I presume they will figure out how to do round 2 in person.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The summary is a study out of South Korea indicate that children 10-19 can spread the virus at least as well as adults. It suggests that children in that age group there actually spread it more than adults, but there may be behavioral things in play (e.g. they spread as much as adults plus less likely to comply with behavioral rules regarding spacing, hand-washing, as adults… at least Korean adults. Their kids might be on-par with some Americans, but I digress.)
7 new deaths — this puts our 7-day rolling average to a new high of an even 5 per day. This also puts us at over 200 deaths for Travis County.
77 new hospital admits (70.8 7day-avg).
151 in the ICU.
105 on ventilators (new record).
I learned today that The University of Texas at Austin has their own dashboard for specifically tracking the university community. The UT community has had 500 cases via self-reports (I presume people who were tested off-campus and reporting it to the university) or students/staff who were tested at UT Health (the clinical arm of the med school) or University Health Services (student clinic). Per Megan Menchaca, the managing editor of the student The Daily Texan, in the last 10 days, there are 120 new student reports and 45 new staff/faculty reports.
Considering in-person classes aren’t meeting, that’s interesting. Dorms open August 20th.
This is a Twitter thread worth reading by Andy Slavitt, former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from 2015-2017.
TSA’s teased revised rules finally dropped. Basically, instead of three weeks to transition to on-campus learning (what districts have generally used to delay the start of on-campus), the TEA extends that to four weeks with an additional four weeks allowed if there is a school board vote.
They are also going to have some hold harmless calculations for the funding of the first two six weeks. The TEA notes this is the same processed used after Hurricane Harvey, which is basically calculating the expected attendance based on the past few years worth of data and using that as a minimum-level of support.
Lastly, the TEA does specifically fund hybrid models. Before, while their documentation mentioned hybrid learning, it wasn’t clear how attendance would count toward funding.
Private Education Update
Religious schools, to be specific, hit the news today. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released a letter to religious to let them know that either the TEA rules nor local health authority orders. Really.
To me, this feels a lot like when the virus first hit the local area where any particular plan or announcement doesn’t really matter because it’s probably going to be outdated within 48 hours.
If you’re tired too, generally speaking, the start of the year for everyone is going to be weird and almost across the board will be virtual. That’s it. That’s the tweet.
Eyes are on the Texas Education Agency awaiting new guidence. It’s been teased that their previous announcements of a three-week virtual period being allowed will be replaced by a new announcement of allowing the entire semester virtual if ordered by local officials. But still waiting on it. I can’t blame the TEA for being a day late considering the CDC is now saying they’re going to have guidanceat the end of the month.
I will give credit for the TEA that they add dates to everything on their site. Each section has a “last updated” date, then the list of documents for any section includes the date posted. For documents updated, within the document itself, they date each question or section for when that section was last updated. Really helpful to skim and see what’s changed.
The last thing I’ll mention on the education front. The White House Press Secretary is getting flack for the line “Science should not prevent schools from reopening”. The full-quote, she obviously means that the science indicates that schools should reopen. She mentioned research in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association), but I’m not sure what she cited.
Gov. Abbott addressed the State GOP Convention—virtually—today. While the Governor has been on my naughty list for his lack of leadership, he’s been in his own party’s crosshairs for doing too much. Multiple counties have censured him for his mask mandate.
I’ve been getting my numbers that I report daily from the DSHS official datasets, which is the source for this dashboard too.
Check out the chart of ICU hospitalizations in Texas by TSA. I’ve reported this a couple times in a table format, but this graph? So good.
Before moving on to the state numbers, there was a correction issued. Bexar County (San Antonio) had to pull back about 3,000 of their cases and was removed from the state’s official data.
The state only accepts a positive test from the PCR test. There is also an antigen test, which also detects an active infection, but that State won’t accept those for their numbers. (Note: this is totally different than an antibody test.)
Bexar County had included antigen positives in the number.