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Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: Travis County reports 2 more deaths from COVID-19, 278 new cases

Here are the latest COVID-19 updates, closures and postponements in Central Texas for Thursday, July 30.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This live blog is no longer updating. For Central Texas coronavirus updates, check out KVUE's July 31 live blog.

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 July 30 live blog.

COVID-19 numbers:

  • Texas: More than 403,000 cases have been reported in the state, and more than 6,100 people in Texas have died, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services
  • Central Texas counties: 
    • Travis County: Over 20,400 cases have been reported and at least 266 people have died. At least 18,044 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Hays County: Over 4,200 confirmed cases have been reported and at least 28 people have died. At least 1,373 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Williamson County: More than 5,600 cases have been reported in the county and at least 76 people have died. At least 4,987 people have recovered from the virus.

Updates:

6 p.m. - Travis County reported another two deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday, as well as another 278 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 20,465 cases and 266 deaths.

There are currently 355 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Travis County, with 131 in the ICU and 88 on ventilators. At least 18,044 people have recovered from the virus.

5:40 p.m. - While the seven-day moving average for new hospital admissions in Travis County is now below 40, Austin-Travis County will remain in Stage 4 of the risk-based guidelines, Austin Public Health (APH) said on Thursday.

"At this time, ICU capacity is still very limited, and APH needs to ensure that we do not reach capacity in the ICUs," APH said in a statement. "This capacity continues to limit the availability of surgeries to manage serious medical conditions. It is essential that the public maintains the level of social distancing, staying at home, and mask-wearing that they have been for the past few weeks. Before the health authority can consider additional reopenings or increased gatherings, we need to have more ICU capacity, and continued reductions in new cases and new admissions to the hospital."

5:25 p.m. - Blanco County reported another death from COVID-19 on Thursday, a woman in her 70s in the Johnson City ZIP code. The county said the woman was on a ventilator for 16 days before her death in the hospital.

5:15 p.m. - Bastrop County has reported five more deaths from COVID-19, as a result of the Texas Department of State Health Services revising its count to reflect fatalities as reported on the individual's death certificate.

Three of the individuals were from the Cedar Creek area, one in the Bastrop area and one in Red Rock. Three were in their 60s, one was in their 70s and another was over 80.

5:10 p.m. - Hays County reported another three deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday – a man from San Marcos in his 70s, as well as a man and a woman from Kyle in their 70s.

The county also reported 21 new confirmed cases, four new hospitalizations, one hospital discharge and 57 additional people considered recovered.

3:55 p.m. - Hays County has established an Emergency Cash Assistance Program (ECAP) grant fund that will deploy $600,000 in grants to local small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.

The ECAP fund will provide a grant of up to $10,000 to qualifying businesses on a first-come, first-served basis. The nonprofit community lender PeopleFund will manage the application process. 

Grants will be awarded to small businesses in Hays County that were unable to secure assistance via the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Grants will be awarded on the basis of $1,000 per qualifying employee for up to a maximum of $10,000 per business. Learn more here.

3:50 p.m. - The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has officially launched a Learning Management System (LMS) to support school systems, teachers, parents and students during the pandemic and beyond. The LMS is being provided for two years at no cost. It will serve as an online learning hub for digital content and communication to help students learning while easing the burden on teachers and staff, the TEA said.

RELATED: TEA to offer free Learning Management System to Texas schools for 2 years to help bolster remote, classroom instruction

1:30 p.m. - Austin Regional Clinic (ARC) Pediatrics is extending its well-checks to all five ARC After Hours Clinics. ARC said over the last four months of COVID-19, many children have fallen behind on their vaccine schedule, so it is expanding its pediatric well-check availability to include appointments on weekday evenings from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

ARC has offered evening and Saturday well-checks every summer to help parents during the back-to-school season and in April, ARC began offering extended hours for well-checks. The clinic hopes that adding the After Hours Clinics for appointments will make things easier for busy parents.

11:50 a.m. - Gov. Greg Abbott announces that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) will provide approximately $185 million in emergency SNAP benefits for the month of August. The HHSC received federal approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to extend the maximum allowable amount of SNAP benefits to recipients based on family size.

More than 961,000 SNAP households will see the additional amount on their Lone Star Card by Aug. 15. The emergency August allotments are in addition to the $835 million in benefits previously provided to Texans between April and July.

10:30 a.m. - To assist working parents looking for child care for their children as they participate in virtual learning this school year, Extend-A-Care YMCA is offering supervised, full-day "Virtual Learning Support" programs at 10 Austin area locations. 

The programs will allow students ages four to 12 to complete their online instruction while providing them the opportunity to "socialize in small, appropriately spaced groups and participate in daily fitness and enrichment activities."

The Virtual Learning Support will be available at the following locations from 7:15 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.:

  • Baranoff Elementary: Aug. 17 through Sept. 4
  • Galindo Elementary:  Aug. 17 through Sept. 4 
  • Joslin Elementary:  Aug. 17 through Sept. 4 
  • Patton Elementary:  Aug. 17 through Sept. 4 
  • Ridgetop Elementary:  Aug. 17 through Sept. 4 
  • North Austin YMCA: Aug. 17 through Sept. 4 
  • East Communities YMCA: Aug. 17 through Sept. 4 
  • Camp Moody YMCA: Aug. 17 through Sept. 25
  • IDEA Parmer Park: Aug. 11–Sept. 18
  • Austin Achieve: Aug. 17 through Sept. 4

Students from any school may attend, regardless of the campus where sessions are held. YMCA says students will also receive in-person instruction in music, art and physical education, plus afterschool enrichment activities. 

The cost is $195 weekly per child. For more information, call 512-236-YMCA or click here.

10 a.m. - Gov. Greg Abbott announces that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is extending flexibilities to Medicaid and CHIP recipients and providers through Oct. 23. These flexibilities will minimize face-to-face interactions and ensure continuity of care for clients during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the governor's office.

Flexibilities extended through Oct. 23 include:

  • Appeals and fair hearings: Extends timelines for clients to request an appeal fair hearing and allows clients to request an appeal verbally.
  • Face-to-face requirements: Suspends face-to-face service coordination, case management visits and utilization review home visits for Medicaid clients. All managed care plans must use telehealth for service coordination and service planning to ensure clients are receiving needed services.
  • Provider enrollment requirements: Suspends requirements that out-of-state providers be licensed in the state where they are providing services when they are licensed in another state and allows licensed providers to render services outside of their state of enrollment.
  • Assessments: Extends certain assessments and service plans.
  • Telemedicine and telehealth: Allows certain services to be delivered remotely.

More information on Medicaid and CHIP flexibilities can be found here.

9:50 a.m. - According to data from the State of Texas, Texas has reported more than 20,000 new COVID-19 cases in the last 72 hours.

8:20 a.m. - In addition to the University of Texas' request that students self-quarantine before returning to campus, Texas State University officials are also asking students to quarantine for 14 days before arriving on campus for the fall semester. Returning students are also urged to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash their hands frequently.

7:15 a.m. - As of Wednesday, July 29, Austin-Travis County has surpassed 20,000 coronavirus cases. Health officials urge Central Texans to continue to stay home when they can. Residents are also asked to continue washing their hands frequently, practice social distancing and wear a face covering. 

For more resources, go to the City of Austin website.

WATCH: KVUE Defenders COVID-19 Q&A: Is there a target positivity rate for the reopening of schools?

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