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Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: Williamson County reports another death from COVID-19

Here are the latest COVID-19 updates, closures and postponements in Central Texas for Tuesday, Sept. 29.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This blog is no longer active.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 and COVID-19 news in the Austin area.

Scroll down for the top headlines and latest updates in KVUE's Sept. 29 live blog.

COVID-19 numbers:

  • Texas: More than 739,200 cases have been reported in the state, and more than 15,500 people in Texas have died, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
  • Central Texas counties: 
    • Travis County: Over 29,400 cases have been reported and at least 426 people have died. At least 28,355 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Hays County: More than 5,900 confirmed cases have been reported and at least 55 people have died. At least 4,333 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Williamson County: More than 8,600 cases have been reported in the county and at least 143 people have died. More than 8,300 people have recovered from the virus.

Updates:

6:25 p.m. – Williamson County reported another death from COVID-19 on Tuesday along with 18 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 8,642 cases and 143 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

6:20 p.m. – Travis County reported 78 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total to 29,421 cases and 426 deaths since the start of the pandemic. At least 28,355 people have recovered from the virus.

Travis County currently has 73 people hospitalized from COVID-19, with 18 in the ICU and seven people on ventilators.

6:15 p.m. – Texas reported 3,812 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to 743,284. There were 71 deaths reported statewide, bringing the total to 15,604. The state's positivity rate average is at 6.09%.

New cases in the Austin metro area were down 15% from last week, with the positivity rate average at 2.5%. The hospital admissions average is 11.8 per day over the past week, the lowest since June 9. There have now been 765 deaths from COVID-19 in the KVUE Central Texas viewing area.

6:10 p.m. – As long as coronavirus safety precautions are followed, Austin Public Health's Dr. Mark Escott said he believes it's OK to go back to school in-person. Austin ISD kids whose parents chose for them to learn in-person will head back to class on Monday.

"First and foremost, we care about all of our employees," said AISD Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Elizalde. "I care about all of our employees. Teachers are the heart of our work and we also depend on support staff like counselors and custodians and our food service and our bus drivers and our maintenance employees, plumbers, electricians, groundskeepers, principals, assistant principals. The list goes on. All of our employees surely have concerns during this pandemic."

Hundreds of employees with Austin ISD's teacher union, Education Austin, don't want to return to school in-person, and the union held a rally on Saturday to get attention from the school district.

"The reality is TEA does not provide for any option that allows 100% virtual instruction," said Elizalde in response to employee concerns. "That is not available to us. In addition, parents will have a choice. We will continue to offer virtual instruction to any parent who so desires. This pandemic is very difficult for everyone."

"Masking and the distancing, the hand hygiene, the hand sanitizer, the hand washing and the constant reinforcement for the students is really doing a great job at limiting the spread within the school system," said Escott.

Escott said there's no evidence showing kids passing each other in a hallway leads to transmission of COVID-19 and he said it'll be imperative to screen kids before they leave the house.

"I'm married to an educator. My children are both doing in-person education. I was confident in the school district's plan to, not only protect the students, but to protect the teachers, and I have the same confidence in the plan for AISD," said Escott.

RELATED: Austin's top doctor says returning to school in-person is safe with COVID-19 precautions

4:30 p.m. – Hays County is now reporting a total of 5,926 lab-confirmed cases, 4,415 recoveries and 55 deaths.

3:45 p.m. – As we continue to traverse the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, doctors have reported the virus has become a chronic condition for thousands of people all over the world. 

Some people, doctors say, are even continuing to deal with lingering coronavirus symptoms weeks and months after first contracting the virus. They are calling it “post-COVID syndrome.”

“As people recover from the initial infection, studies are starting to show that in some people, it might actually take weeks or even months to return to baseline health,” said Esther Melamed, M.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas. "In fact, there's a new name that has been coined for people who have developed long-lasting symptoms. They’re called 'COVID long-haulers.'"

In a short video, Melamed cites a CDC study, which found that more than a third of people who tested positive for coronavirus had not returned to their pre-COVID health, two to three weeks after contracting the virus.

According to the CDC study, nearly one in five adults 18 to 34 years old with no chronic medical conditions reported they had not returned to their usual state of health 14 to 21 days after testing. 

“These long-lasting symptoms can include trouble breathing, headaches, memory difficulty, overwhelming fatigue and persistent loss of taste and smell,” Melamed said. “People can also experience worsening of pre-COVID conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and mood disorders.”

RELATED: 'Post COVID-19 syndrome': More than a third of COVID-19-positive patients report lingering symptoms, study says

3 p.m. – As COVID-19 cases continue to decline in Travis County, larger gatherings could soon be allowed. KVUE's media partners at the Austin American-Statesman reported that Mayor Steve Adler said Monday that once the county's seven-day moving average drops to 10 new hospitalizations, health officials may allow for larger gatherings, especially outdoors.

The seven-day average as of Monday night was 13, according to the county's dashboard. At a public meeting Tuesday, Dr. Mark Escott said for the past three weeks, the moving average for hospitalizations has bounced between 12 and 18.

WATCH: Wastewater may provide COVID-19 clues

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