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Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: Travis County reports 4 more COVID-19 deaths

Here are the latest COVID-19 updates, closures and postponements in Central Texas for Wednesday, Dec. 16.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This blog is no longer active.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 Dec. 16 live blog.

COVID-19 numbers:

  • Texas: More than 1.3 million cases have been reported in the state, and more than 23,900 people in Texas have died, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
  • Central Texas counties: 
    • Travis County: At least 43,836 cases have been reported and at least 511 people have died. At least 39,527 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Hays County: At least 8,569 confirmed cases have been reported and at least 113 people have died. At least 7,253 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Williamson County: At least 16,693 cases have been reported in the county and at least 182 people have died. At least 15,350 people have recovered from the virus.

For a look at COVID-19 data across all of the state's counties, click here.

Updates:

6 p.m. – Travis County reported another four deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday along with 367 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 43,836 cases and 511 deaths since the start of the pandemic. At least 39,527 people have recovered from the virus.

Travis County currently has 309 people hospitalized with COVID-19, with 96 in the ICU and 47 on ventilators.

5:30 p.m. – Currently, the 2,473 staffed beds within all three health care systems – Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health and St. David's HealthCare – are 82% occupied, and the 483 ICU beds are 83% occupied.

5:25: p.m. – Hays County reported 229 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday along with 51 additional people now considered recovered. There were no new hospitalizations or hospital discharges.

4:30 p.m. – The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) says that all of the remaining medical facilities listed on the Week 1 provider list are scheduled to receive Pfizer vaccine shipments on Thursday. That includes seven facilities in Travis County, two in Williamson County and one in Hays County.

For facilities that received their first shipment on Monday or Tuesday, their Week 1 allocation is complete.

4:05 p.m. – Texas reported 14,805 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total to 1,367,965. The seven-day average is up to 11,659 new cases per day, which is up 38% from a month ago. The state reported 252 new deaths on Wednesday, bringing the death toll to 24,394.

Texas had 9,528 COVID-19 patients in hospitals statewide on Wednesday – the most since July 29 and up 28% from a month ago. The state's positivity rate average is at 13.75%.

3:30 p.m. – In addition to the City of Austin and Travis County extending the "stay home" orders through Feb. 16, the Austin-Travis County Health Authority has extended the Health Authority Rules through April 15. The rules also now include additional updates including new requirements for quarantine (Rule 2.5), requirements for dine-in or indoor food or beverage services (Rule 5.6) and the definitions for "high-risk individuals" and "high-risk settings." Read the complete set of updated rules

RELATED: Austin-Travis County 'stay home' orders extended until Feb. 16 as cases surge

2:50 p.m. – Executive Director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) Camille Cain said the agency has received 3,000 Cue molecular testing kits from the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM).

"On behalf of TJJD, I would like to thank Chief Nim Kidd and the Texas Division of Emergency Management for providing our agency with 3,000 Cue molecular testing kits," said Cain. "These highly accurate tests can provide results within 20 minutes, and they will provide us with another powerful tool in protecting our youth and staff. By having these kits on-hand at our facilities, we are better-positioned to respond to potential outbreaks and deploy our agency resources in a timely, strategic manner."

2:24 p.m. Leaders with Austin Public Health are asking residents to worship virtually this holiday season in lieu of gathering at their places of worship. 

Some may be wondering why religious gatherings are riskier than going to the grocery store or running another errand. Health leaders said religious celebrations are particularly risky because individuals are in extended close contact with one another and participating in activities such as singing, holding hands and sharing wine vessels. 

1:15 p.m. – In an update on Wednesday, Austin Public Health urged Austinites to take actions to stop the spread of the coronavirus as the holidays fuel a surge in cases. Travis County on Tuesday reported the highest single-day case count since mid-July.

With more active infections in our community than any other point in the pandemic, Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said “we’ve got to do more.”

“We've seen the results of the Thanksgiving effect on COVID-19,” he said. “Now we're in the phase of seeing infection spread by those who were infected during Thanksgiving, and the potential for Christmas to accelerate the growth in a number of cases and hospitalizations is serious.”

Dr. Escott warned if the current trend continues, local hospitals will be overwhelmed.

“It doesn't stop by magic,” he said. “We can't will it away. We have to individually take responsibility and protect ourselves so that we can protect our community. The vaccine is here. We have the ability to prevent disease. We have the ability to prevent deaths through vaccination. Now is the time where we need to buckle down and not only push the positivity and the cases down, we need to push them down to zero.”

RELATED: Health officials warn Austin 'moving in the wrong direction' as holidays fuel COVID-19 case surge

11 a.m. – Austin Public Health wrapped up its weekly COVID-19 update. You can watch the full press conference recording in the video below.

9:50 a.m. - Austin Public Health will give a COVID-19 update at 10 a.m. with Christmas one week away.

WATCH: Austin-Travis County approaching Stage 5

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