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Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: 'No visitor' policy for Austin-area hospitals

Here are the latest COVID-19 updates, closures and postponements in Central Texas for Saturday, March 21.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This live blog is no longer updating. For the latest updates regarding coronavirus in Central Texas follow KVUE's March 22 blog.

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 March 21 live blog.

Top headlines for March 21:

Saturday Updates:

9:30 p.m. – Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White and St. David's HealthCare have implemented a new no-visitor policy, effective starting on Sunday.

Exceptions will be made for laboring and post-partum patients; patients with disabilities or impairments or who are elderly; patients in the neonatal ICU and pediatric units; patients requiring surgery or other medical procedures; and patients requiring end-of-life care, a spokesperson said. Those visitors must pass a health screening prior to entry.

8 p.m. – On Saturday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler signed a new order, requiring retail establishments such as grocery stores, pharmacies and warehouse stores to establish controls to require social distancing, which includes a separation of 6 feet between patrons standing in lines.

“Controls may include, but are not limited to, requiring each person to take a shopping cart or placing markers on the floor,” the order said.

The City of Austin said the new order went into effect at 7 p.m. on Saturday and includes guidance for critical infrastructure to ensure there are safeguards.

6:30 p.m. – Travis County now has 62 confirmed cases of coronavirus, the City of Austin said on Saturday. There are now 304 cases statewide, with five deaths.

5:45 p.m. – Fayette County has reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19. In a statement on Saturday, the county said the person is in home isolation and has had no known recent visits to any Fayette County establishments.

5:45 p.m. – Hill Country Memorial Hospital in Fredericksburg confirmed on Saturday a team member has tested presumptive positive for coronavirus. The hospital said the individual is not a direct care provider and has been in self-quarantine for several days. The state is executing contact tracing to find people who have had recent unprotected contact with the individual.

CDC precautions have been put in place at the hospital to ensure staff are wearing personal protective equipment.

4:30 p.m. – Bastrop County has confirmed its first presumptive positive case of COVID-19. The man is a 37-year-old resident of Bastrop County, the county said on Saturday.

4:15 p.m. – The first City of Austin and Travis-County-run COVID-19 testing collection point began operating on Saturday. The site is one of 11 test collection points with a public-private partnership between Austin Public Health, St. David's, Ascension Seton, UT Health Austin and Baylor Scott & White, the City said.

The City of Austin said the site will prioritize individuals sent by referral and with an appointment. It said there is still a significant gap between the number of tests available and the number of people seeking a test. Priority is given to people with specific symptoms and risk factors such as travel, close contact with confirmed cases or underlying health conditions.

2:25 p.m. –  Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a warning to retail suppliers against price gouging, which is prohibited by state law in the wake of a declared disaster. According to the Attorney General's Office, price gougers can be held liable for civil penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation with an additional penalty of up to $250,000 if the consumers are elderly.

Complaints regarding price gouging can be submitted online through the Texas Attorney General's website.

12:55 p.m.  Gov. Greg Abbott waives several regulations to help meet the state's growing need for nurses. The governor's actions include:

  • Allowing temporary permit extensions to practice for graduate nurses and graduate vocational nurses who have yet to take the licensing exam.
  • Allowing students in their final year of nursing school to meet their clinical objectives by exceeding the 50% limit on simulated experiences.
  • Allowing nurses with inactive licenses or retired nurses to reactivate their licenses

12:50 p.m.  Williamson County and Cities Health District confirms new positive coronavirus (COVID-19) case, a woman in her 20s with unknown exposure history. This brings the county's total to nine. Read more.

12:30 p.m. – The City of Austin announces the Austin City Council will consider creating a local Economic Injury Disaster Program on Thursday. The program would provide working capital loans up to $35,000 for Austin businesses that can demonstrate an economic injury associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.

1:10 a.m. – The Spring Pecan Street Festival has been canceled. The festival was scheduled for May 2-3. According to festival organizers, the fall festival is still scheduled to be held as planned on Sept. 19-20. Organizers will be emailing confirmed spring vendors this weekend regarding refunds.

Pecan Street Festival Friends and Supporters In light of the recent... event cancellations and/or postponements in Austin due to the COVID 19 virus, we wanted to inform you of the steps the Festival is taking to secure our event. We are in constant communication with the City and County, and at this juncture, our event is still confirmed to proceed.

Friday, 8:15 p.m. – The City of Austin and Travis County have issued new orders, in line with Gov. Greg Abbott's statewide order from Thursday.

The order reinforces social distancing by prohibiting gatherings of 10 people or more but allows critical infrastructure to continue operating, including financial institutions, communications, emergency services, energy, transportation, water and wastewater systems.

Under the previous Austin-Travis County orders, schools, massage parlors and gyms were not ordered closed but now are, the City said. Visiting nursing homes, retirement or long-term care facilities is prohibited unless providing critical assistance.

The City said health officials are not yet able to require the same level of social distancing at homeless camps.

Establishments have overwhelmingly complied with the orders since Tuesday, according to the City.

WATCH: Creating social distance in Central Texas jails


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