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Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: APH announces 'School Saturdays' to vaccinate educators

Here are the latest COVID-19 updates, closures and postponements in Central Texas for Friday, March 5.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This blog is no longer being updated. Click here for Saturday's blog.

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 March 5 live blog.

COVID-19 numbers:

  • Texas: More than 2.3 million cases have been reported in the state, and more than 43,800 people in Texas have died, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
  • Central Texas counties: 
    • Travis County: At least 76,447 cases have been reported and at least 765 people have died. At least 73,997 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Hays County: At least 16,490 confirmed cases have been reported and at least 227 people have died. At least 15,617 people have recovered from the virus. 
    • Williamson County: At least 35,865 cases have been reported in the county and at least 408 people have died. 

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

Updates:

6:40 p.m. – Austin Public Health said in just 48 hours, more than 680 school employees or child care providers have been vaccinated through APH. APH is encouraging providers to adopt the practice of "School Saturdays," reserving Saturday appointments for school staff. APH will begin this practice on Saturday, March 6.

6:10 p.m. – Travis County reported another four deaths from COVID-19 on Friday along with 82 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 76,447 cases and 765 deaths since the start of the pandemic. At least 73,997 people have recovered from the virus.

Travis County currently has 233 people hospitalized with COVID-19, with 68 in the ICU and 48 on ventilators. There are 33 people being treated at the alternative care site at the Austin Convention Center.

5:20 p.m. – Williamson County said it will open more volunteer-run Vaccine Registration Technical Assistance (VRTA) centers to assist residents with registration for COVID-19 vaccines. Three new sites will open on Monday, March 8. All VRTA centers are available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The new sites are listed in bold.

  • St. Richard's Episcopal Church, located at 1420 E. Palm Valley Blvd. in Round Rock, open Tuesdays.  
  • First United Methodist Church Georgetown (McKinney Christian Ministry Center), located at 1205 Ash St. in Georgetown, open Wednesdays.  
  • Northpoint Church, located at 1320 Arrow Point Dr., UNIT 201 in Cedar Park, open Thursdays.  
  • Hill Country Bible Church, 3300 Little Elm Trail, Gym Building in Cedar Park, open Fridays.   
  • First Baptist Taylor, 2500 Mallard Lane in Taylor, open Thursdays.   
  • The Oaks in Sun City, 301 Del Webb Blvd. in Georgetown, open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  

Appointments are not necessary to receive assistance at any of the locations.

4:30 p.m. – Hays County reported two more COVID-19 deaths on Friday, a San Marcos man in his 70s and a San Marcos woman in her 60s. Health officials also reported 34 new confirmed cases along with one new hospitalization and three new hospital discharges. There are no additional people considered recovered.

4:25 p.m. – The state of Texas will more than 1 million first doses of COVID-19 vaccines the week of March 8, as well as 457,000 second doses for people who have already been vaccinated.

The vaccine doses will be shipped to 1,651 providers across Texas, including doses for federally supported sites in Arlington, Dallas and Houston focused on large community vaccination as Texas continues to vaccinate individuals in Phases 1A and 1B.

This week is the 13th week of vaccination against the coronavirus in Texas.

Austin Public Health (APH) will again receive 12,000 doses as part of the allocation. Dell Medical School will receive 11,700 doses of vaccine for the week.

4:05 p.m. – The City of Taylor said it will continue to follow a phased-in plan for reopening, even as Gov. Greg Abbott's restrictions and mask mandate lift statewide on Wednesday.

“Gov. Abbott’s recent order ends his statewide mask mandate and supersedes the local mask order,” said City of Taylor Mayor Brandt Rydell. “However, regardless of whether a mask mandate is in effect, I encourage all Taylorites to continue to exercise the same common sense and common courtesy that has enabled us to have what success we’ve had against COVID-19. Remember, wearing a face covering is less about protecting you than it is about protecting others. The recent winter storm provided countless examples of Taylorites looking out for one another. I’m hopeful that same spirit carries over in our continuing battle with COVID-19.”

As of March 5, 2021, the City of Taylor is operating under the RED phase, with uncontrolled community spread. This phase requires that most City facilities be closed or operate on a very limited basis, permits social gatherings of up to five people and allows for the use of open spaces in City parks with social distancing. In addition, this phase prohibits large gatherings and special events in public facilities and spaces. City Hall is only open for drive-thru services, and the library is only open for curbside pickup. Taylor Little League, Taylor Pony League and Lonestar Soccer are permitted to operate for league play only, and tennis and pickleball courts are open for practice, lessons and general use only. Mask wearing and social distancing are still encouraged throughout the City.  

3:10 p.m. – Around 17% of Texas's 16+ population has been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while more than 2 million Texans are now fully vaccinated. Texas has administered around 80% of what it's been shipped to date.

The state reported 4,277 new confirmed cases on Friday, bringing the total to 2,314,187. The seven-day average is at 4,201 new cases per day over the past week, down 12% from a week ago. Texas reported 256 more COVID-19 deaths on Friday, bringing the total to 44,134. There are 5,065 COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals statewide, down 18% from a week ago. The state's positivity rate average is at 8.16%.

The Austin metro area is at 411 new cases per day over the past week, while the area's positivity rate average is at 5.84%. There have been 1,945 COVID-19 deaths in the 12-county Central Texas KVUE viewing area since the start of the pandemic.

3 p.m. – Williamson County said vaccination partner Curative will open another drive-thru vaccine site at Dell Diamond on March 12. All vaccine doses are scheduled by appointment only.

The county's "VacMob" is also helping those not able to travel to receive the vaccine, at facilities such as Williamson County Juvenile Services, Hope Alliance and St. Cyril Catholic Church in Granger.

On Friday, Curative began its mobile vaccination van to vaccinate residents at long-term car facilities. The team plans to vaccinate 300 to 400 people each week with a goal to be completed by the end of April.

Williamson County is also vaccinating at a location in Taylor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, giving access to those in the eastern part of the county. This site is by appointment only and available to those with ZIP codes on the east side of the county. The site can vaccinate around 500 people per day.

2:28 p.m. On Friday, Dr. Mark Escott said Austin Public Health is "extremely concerned" about local bars being able to open back up to 100%, following Gov. Greg Abbott's announcement earlier this week that, effective March 10, he will be lifting COVID-19 safety restrictions statewide, including face masks mandates and businesses capacity limitations.

Health leaders also announced plans for an initiative geared toward child care workers, as well as a new vaccination site:

RELATED: 

Austin Public Health planning mass vaccination site at Burger Center, considering Expo Center

Austin Public Health aiming to prioritize school staff, child care workers with 'School Saturdays' vaccine initiative

11 a.m. – Several Central Texas counties pooled their resources and are working to vaccinate 10,000 people at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) this weekend. KVUE's Daranesha Herron spoke to Austin Mayor Steve Adler live at COTA:

9:58 a.m. – At 10 a.m., Austin health leaders gave an update about the state of the coronavirus and the COVID-19 vaccine. Watch on KVUE's YouTube channel.

WATCH: Health leaders give update on vaccine, stats

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