Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: Travis County reports 2 more deaths from COVID-19, 318 new cases

Here are the latest COVID-19 updates, closures and postponements in Central Texas for Wednesday, June 24.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This blog is no longer active. For the latest updates, check out our new blog here.

KVUE is keeping you updated with the latest coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, news in the Austin area.

Scroll down for the top headlines and latest updates in KVUE's June 24 live blog.

COVID-19 numbers:

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  • Texas: More than 120,000 cases have been reported in the state, and more than 2,200 people in Texas have died, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. More than 3,200 people are hospitalized across the state. An estimated 70,714 people have recovered.
  • Central Texas counties: 
    • Travis County: Over 6,900 cases have been reported and at least 116 people have died. At least 4,796 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Hays County: Over 2,000 confirmed cases have been reported and at least five people have died. At least 397 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Williamson County: More than 1,400 cases have been reported in the county and at least 32 people have died. More than 720 people have recovered from the virus.

Top headlines:

Latest updates:

11:25 p.m.  Hays County has scheduled 10 more free testing days, starting on Saturday, June 27.

7:45 p.m. – As of Tuesday, the updated City of Austin order also requires construction sites to adopt and enforce health plans that require face coverings.

According to the Development Services Department, construction sites are also required to:

  • Stagger shifts for sites with more than 10 active workers
  • Conduct daily jobsite briefings and health screenings
  • Mandate hand-washing, and place hand-washing stations and restrooms at least six feet apart
  • Provide single-use disposable paper towels and no-touch trash receptacles
  • Keep tools disinfected
  • Post notices about these requirements, in English and Spanish, where workers can see them
  • Designate a COVID-19 safety monitor
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Department inspectors will continue to monitor these rules during routine inspections. If a site is not enforcing them, the Austin Code Department will be notified. Austin Code will also respond to complaints reported via Austin 3-1-1.

When violations are found, sites businesses will have an opportunity to comply. A follow-up inspection will be conducted within 24 hours. Repeat offenses will result in a $1,000 fine per day until compliance is achieved.

7:20 p.m. – Austin Mayor Steve Adler says if you see someone in a business who isn't wearing a mask or social distancing, you should leave. "Leave, leave, leave. A business that is ... not having people wear masks and not having people social distance is a business that is not working very hard to try and keep our businesses open throughout the city," Adler said in his nightly "Got a Minute?" video.

Anyone who sees businesses violating the City's orders can report them by calling Austin 311. 

6:15 p.m. – Travis County on Wednesday reported two new deaths from COVID-19 and 318 new cases, bringing the total to 116 deaths and 6,914 total cases in the county. At least 4,796 people have recovered from the virus.

Travis County has 274 people hospitalized from COVID-19, with 106 in the ICU and 42 on ventilators.

6:05 p.m. – The Texas Juvenile Justice Department said a youth who tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday at the Giddings State School remains on campus for treatment. Seven staff members at the facility have also tested positive for COVID-19.

5:30 p.m. –  The Hays County Sheriff's Office reports that 45 people have tested positive within the county jail. That includes 36 inmates and nine corrections officers.

4:50 p.m. – Hays County announces 193 new cases, two new hospitalizations and six more recoveries.

Williamson County announces 116 new cases, one new hospitalization and 15 recoveries.

4:30 p.m. – In a joint statement, Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health and St. David’s HealthCare said that the three hospital systems' have 2,470 staffed beds collectively, and occupancy of those staffed beds is at 71%. The statement also said that the three healthcare systems have 483 ICU beds and occupancy of those ICU beds is currently at 70%.

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Here is the full joint statement: 

"The pandemic is an evolving situation, and we continue to monitor the increase in COVID-19 cases in our community. We currently have the capacity to treat all patients, including patients diagnosed with COVID-19, and we are able to quickly adapt to the needs of our patients and to the healthcare demands of our community.

"As previously shared by the State, Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health and St. David’s HealthCare have a total of 3,250 licensed beds available for patients in our community. However, it is important to note the number of licensed beds is different than the number of staffed beds available. Licensed beds represent the total number of beds a hospital is licensed to operate. This number is typically higher than a hospital’s staffed beds, which are those that are set up and ready for use, with the necessary staff in place to care for those patients. While we have the ability to surge to our number of licensed beds, it would require staffing that exceeds what we typically have available for daily operations. Given that all three of our healthcare systems are part of larger healthcare organizations, we have the ability to pull in necessary resources, including PPE and staff, should that be needed for us to surge to our full licensed capacity.

"At this time, the three healthcare systems have 2,470 staffed beds collectively, and occupancy of those staffed beds is at 71 percent. Collectively, the three healthcare systems have 483 ICU beds and occupancy of those ICU beds is currently at 70 percent,

"Our health systems are committed to providing capacity in these unusual times and collaborating closely with each other and with local and state leadership and public health experts. It is important to note that we have implemented new measures and protections in accordance with CDC guidance and recommendations by our clinical experts to provide our communities with peace of mind.

"However, if our hospitals reach a capacity where we cannot safely accommodate demand, while we will always make emergency care available, we may have to make changes, such as adjusting our staffing needs and limiting the services we are able to offer to patients. In some cases, we may transfer patients between facilities within our healthcare systems in order to provide the most appropriate care. We also support planning ahead to set up alternate care sites, and we are working with community leaders to plan for this potential need.

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"The best way to decrease the spread of COVID-19 is to adhere to the guidelines put in place by local health officials. It is in the best interest of everyone throughout Central Texas to wear a mask when around people who aren’t part of your household, practice good hand hygiene and engage in social distancing."

4:10 p.m. – Capital Metro says it is in the process of upgrading seat cushions on its buses from cloth to vinyl. 

3:20 pm. – The 37th annual Sertoma Club Family July 4 Celebration and fireworks display in Georgetown has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

“While we tried to find creative ways to continue this year’s celebration, City Council felt it would be in the best interest of public health and safety to cancel,” Mayor Dale Ross said. “With COVID-19 cases rising in our community at an alarming rate, it’s more important now than ever to be vigilant about keeping our distance, avoiding gatherings with people outside our homes, wearing face coverings, and disinfecting surfaces and our hands frequently.”

3 p.m. – The City of San Marcos announces it will expand the interurban and the fixed-route transit services to meet the need of Texas State University students with new safety measures in place due to COVID-19.

Here is more from the City:

Safety Practices Required

Passengers are now required to wear masks and encouraged to maintain social distancing by skipping a seat at bus stops, transit centers and on board all CARTS transit vehicles. These additional safety measures are in response to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Hays County and are consistent with best practices implemented by transit systems nationwide.

Interurban Express Resumes

To coincide with the start of the Summer II semester at Texas State University, CARTS will resume the Interurban Express 1517 services between Austin and San Marcos on Monday, July 6. Click here to view the summer schedule. Passengers may pre-purchase their tickets on the Hopthru app. 

Fixed Route Services Expand

Also starting Monday, July 6, the City’s fixed-route service hours of 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. will be expanded to 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Route 1 Hopkins/Wonder World will continue to run on a one-hour frequency.

“Fare-free” for the City’s fixed routes will continue through the month of July.

2:40 p.m. – The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission will continue its Operation Safe Open this weekend to "ensure bars and restaurants are complying with requirements to reduce the spread of COVID-19."

2 p.m. – Austin Public Health holds its press conference as hospitalizations and case numbers rise.

Austin Public Health said that local hospitals could reach capacity by mid-July at the current pace of COVID-19 growth. Dr. Mark Escott said that based on current projections, Austin-Travis County could have 13,000 cases in the next 18 days, doubling the current number. Read more of what Dr. Escott had to say or watch the full press conference.

RELATED: As COVID-19 cases rise in Austin area, health leaders warn hospitals could reach capacity by mid-July

1:45 p.m. – Sen. John Cornyn's office announces that CommUnityCare in Austin was awarded a federal grant of $264,132 to improve telehealth resources to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread across Texas, it’s important that we in Washington do everything we can to make sure our health care professionals can meet this challenge head-on,” said Sen. Cornyn. “I applaud the Trump Administration for continuing to make telehealth in Austin an important priority.”

1:35 p.m. – The Texas Medical Association warned the consequences of the surging COVID-19 pandemic in Texas could be severe for the heath care system if not handled correctly. It said it is working closely with the state government to ensure medical professionals are protected from infection and medical facilities are properly utilized for patients who need them the most.

"The Texas Medical Association remains in close contact with the governor’s office, the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas Hospital Association and other key players in this crisis," said Texas Medical Association President Diana L. Fite, MD. "If Texans don’t follow safety guidelines, there will be additional spikes and surges in COVID-19 cases until a vaccine and/or effective treatment is produced. The potential of a combined coronavirus/flu outbreak this fall and winter is real, and it is as serious as it sounds."

1:25 p.m. – Gov. Abbott announces that the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), along with the Texas Military Department, will start distributing 3-ply surgical masks to every person who undergoes COVID-19 testing at state-run mobile testing sites. Beginning Thursday, everyone who gets a COVID-19 test at a state-run mobile testing site will be provided with four masks to take home. You can find a testing site near you by visiting TDEM's COVID-19 Test Collection Site map.  

"Wearing a mask or facial covering in public is an effective way for Texans to protect themselves and others from the transmission of COVID-19," said Gov. Abbott. "This program helps ensure that Texans have the resources they need to effectively mitigate the spread of this virus and keep themselves and their communities safe. I continue to urge all Texans to do their part by taking necessary precautions that will reduce the spread of COVID-19 throughout our state."

1:10 p.m. – Franklin Barbecue has closed temporarily after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. It has been a full week since the crew member worked at the restaurant.

RELATED: Austin's Franklin Barbecue temporarily closes after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

12:35 p.m. – The Central Texas Food Bank is rescheduling one of its upcoming drive-thru distributions.

The event scheduled for Thursday, June 25, at Nelson Field will no longer take place. It is being replaced with a similar event on Tuesday, June 30, at the Travis County Exposition Center from 9 a.m. to noon.

8: 20 a.m. –  Austin Public Health will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the Austin area and Texas as a whole continue to rise.

WATCH: Austin mayor discusses new mask orders on KVUE Midday

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