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Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: Travis County reports 7 more COVID-19 deaths, 232 new cases

Here are the latest COVID-19 updates, closures and postponements in Central Texas for Friday, July 17.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This blog is no longer being updated. To view Saturday's blog, click 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 July 17 live blog.

COVID-19 numbers:

  • Texas: More than 292,600 cases have been reported in the state, and more than 3,500 people in Texas have died, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. More than 155,900 people have recovered.
  • Central Texas counties: 
    • Travis County: Over 17,200 cases have been reported and at least 196 people have died. At least 13,672 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Hays County: Over 3,800 confirmed cases have been reported and at least 14 people have died. At least 801 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Williamson County: More than 4,300 cases have been reported in the county and at least 65 people have died. More than 3,100 people have recovered from the virus.

Top headlines:

Latest updates:

7:20 p.m. – KIPP Texas Public Schools announces the following changes to its fall school restart plans.

  • All KIPP Texas Public Schools will start the semester 100% virtual and classes will begin on Monday, Aug. 24.
  • We hope to return to in-person learning with a staggered, phased-in start beginning October 12 for families who choose in-person learning for the second nine-week instructional cycle. 
  • Curbside Grab & Go meals for students, their siblings, and children in our communities will continue through July 31. Starting August 24, we start the National School Lunch Program and transition curbside Grab & Go meals exclusively for KIPP students whether they are learning virtually or in-person. Since March, we have distributed more than 530,000 meals to KIPP students, their siblings and children in our communities.
  • KIPP Texas will continue to provide laptops and internet access to all students who express a need.  

In the next few weeks, KIPP will re-evaluate options for in-person learning.

6:05 p.m. – Travis County reported seven more deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, as well as another 232 confirmed cases, bringing the total to 17,215 cases and 196 deaths. At least 13,672 have recovered from the virus.

The county has 469 people hospitalized from the coronavirus, with 158 in the ICU and 102 on ventilators.

5:30 p.m. – As of July 17, 38 youth at the Gidding State School have recovered from COVID-19 and been medically cleared to return to their dorms. The campus currently has nine remaining youth on medical quarantine. A total of 74 youth and 36 staff members have tested positive.

5 p.m. – On July 17, Hays County reported three more fatalities. All victims were in their 70s and were hospitalized at the time of their deaths. One male and one female were from San Marcos and the other was a man from Kyle. For more information on the previously reported Hays County cases, click here.

4:50 p.m. – New data from the Texas Department of State Health and Human Services shows that:

  • Cumulative cases have passed 300,000
  • Texas had 14% of all new COVID-19 cases nationwide yesterday
  • As of today, 19.3% (722) of cumulative deaths to date (3,735) have come in the past seven days. Nearly 20% of all of Texas COVID-19 deaths have happened in the past week.
  • That also makes it the deadliest seven days yet in Texas.

As for today, Texas data shows:

  • 174 new deaths today, a new high
  • 10,256 new cases today
  • 10,632 hospitalizations today, a new high
  • Positivity rate set a new high at 17.43%

4 p.m. – Williamson County reports two more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the county total to 67. The victims were a woman in her 80s and a man in his 50s. 

For more information about these cases, including age ranges and locations, click here.

2 p.m. – The Sobering Center in Downtown Austin announces that it will resume 24/7 operations starting on July 20. Due to the pandemic, the organization had been operating from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. since May.

“We are looking forward to accepting clients 24/7 again,” said Sobering Center Executive Director Laura E. Sovine. “Especially during a pandemic and rising levels of uncertainty, it is important that we remain a constant resource to our community, especially toward our critical mission of relieving pressure in emergency rooms and jails. It is just the right thing to do for all.”

1:38 p.m. – Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a guidance letter to religious private schools in Texas, informing them that local public health orders attempting to restrict their reopenings violate the United States and Texas Constitutions and the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The guidance letter also stated that local orders seeking to restrict the reopening of religious private schools or institutions is inconsistent with Gov. Abbott’s executive orders, and therefore, are invalid. 

“As the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed just last week, there are robust constitutional and statutory protections unique to religious individuals and communities, specifically including religious private schools,” said Attorney General Paxton. “In accordance with the protections granted by the First Amendment and Texas law, this guidance allows religious private schools to determine for themselves when to reopen free from any government mandate or interference.”

12 p.m. One more TSA officer at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 12. Their last day at work was July 10.

11:05 a.m. – Round Rock ISD releases its 2020-2021 school year plan. Click here for more information.

11 a.m. – The Texas Education Agency announces new guidelines for the fall semester, which include the option for schools to stay online for the first four weeks. Click here for more information.

Texas officials, including Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Dennis Bonnen, also announced that the State of Texas will allocate $200 million in CARES Act funding to the TEA for the purchase of eLearning devices and home internet solutions to enable remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic for Texas students that lack connectivity.

This funding is in addition to a previously announced distribution of up to $400 million of CRF to reimburse districts for COVID-19 expenses incurred during the 2019-2020 school year. This funding will also establish a reimbursement program for devices and home internet costs incurred by LEAs from May 21 through Sept. 1.

"As school districts delay the start of in-person instruction for the 2020-2021 school year due to COVID-19, it is essential that we work to provide Texas students with the devices they need to connect and communicate online for classroom instruction," said Gov. Abbott. "As we continue to combat COVID-19 in Texas, we are committed to providing reliable and effective solutions that will help students academically succeed while protecting public health."

WATCH: COVID-19 pandemic impacting Downtown Austin


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