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Number of new COVID-19 cases in Austin area are on a 'downward trend,' Dr. Escott says

The community needs to 'dig deep' and continue to take protective measures, the doctor added.

AUSTIN, Texas — Dr. Mark Escott with Austin Public Health gave a COVID-19 update during a meeting on Tuesday, July 21.

As of July 20, a total of 17,791 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the Austin-Travis County area since the pandemic began. The county has now reported 209 deaths along with 14,526 recoveries.

RELATED: Travis County coronavirus cases reach 17,791, 209 deaths

During a Travis County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Dr. Escott said the number of new coronavirus cases in Austin-Travis County have "plateaued for a bit" and that we appear to be on a "downward trend." 

San Antonio is currently seeing an uptick in cases from the Fourth of July holiday, and Dr. Escott said he's curious if the data from the Austin area will show the same. The doctor added that there is "more disease out there than the case numbers reflect."

Credit: Austin Public Health

"We are certainly hopeful that that trend continues," the doctor said, adding he's hopeful continuing efforts will also help decrease the new admissions in the hospitals. 

However, Dr. Escott added the community needs to "dig deep" and continue to take protective measures for the next month or so at the lease so we can be in a better position to reopen schools in the Austin area.

We are currently in Stage 4, according to Dr. Escott, who added, "hospitals are teetering on the brink of being over-stressed. He recommended a staged rollout plan of in-person learning.

"We can't exclude the teachers when we're making the decisions about schools. They're the ones at risk," Escott said.

RELATED: LIST: What local school districts are planning for back-to-school

Dr. Escott said kids under 18 years old are at low risk for serious illness and death, and that there's insufficient evidence in determining how easily kids contract and spread COVID-19. The doctor added there's also insufficient evidence on effective strategies for limiting transmission.

Last week, Dr. Escott said reopening schools could lead to more than 1,300 student deaths. He then ordered schools to delay on-campus instruction until after Sept. 7. However, Mayor Steve Adler told KVUE Escott has told people that school closures will likely last longer than Sept. 8.

KVUE's Molly Oak is following along the Travis County meeting and providing updates on her Twitter page. For the latest updates, click here.

WATCH: Mayor Ader talks COVID-19 and schools on Daybreak ATX

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