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Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: Austin-Travis County reports 179 confirmed COVID-19 cases

Here are the latest COVID-19 updates, closures and postponements in Central Texas for Saturday, March 28.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This blog is no longer active. For the latest updates for Sunday, March 29, check out this article.

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 28 live blog.

Top headlines:

Saturday Updates:

10 p.m. – Fayette County has confirmed a second positive case of COVID-19. The county said the patient is self-isolating at home.

8:45 p.m. – Burnet County has confirmed its second positive case of COVID-19. In a statement on Saturday evening, Burnet County Judge James Oakley said there were likely several other cases in the county that could not be confirmed because of a lack of testing.

6:30 p.m. – Bastrop County has reported its third confirmed positive COVID-19 case, a 31-year-old woman. She is in quarantine at home under a doctor's care.

5:20 p.m. – Austin-Travis County is now reporting 179 confirmed cases of COVID-19. See the full breakdown of cases in Central Texas by county.

5 p.m. – The City of Austin announced a new community forum, ATX Emergency Food Systems Exchange, to help connect food and volunteers with people in need. The exchange is being used by grocery delivery program for the elderly and immunocompromised Stay Home, Stay Healthy.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the program is asked to visit GoodAppleFoods.com, while anyone in need of food assistance can call 211 or visit Connect ATX.

3:30 p.m. – A Capital Metro employee who previously self-reported to have COVID-19 has tested negative for the virus, CapMetro said on Saturday. There are currently no documented positive COVID-19 cases among staff members at CapMetro.

3:15 p.m. – Gov. Greg Abbott waives certain regulations allowing for a faster licensing reactivation process for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN).

Under the governor's waivers, an APRN with a license that has been inactive for more than two years but less than four years won't have to pay a reactivation fee, complete continuing education credits or complete current practice requirements. APRNs with a license that has been inactive for more than four years still have to complete current practice requirements, but the reactivation fee and continuing education requirements are waived for them as well.

2:45 p.m. – Capital Metro said ridership on Friday was down an estimated 64% from 2019. Ridership continues to decline as customers only use transit for essential trips, CapMetro said.

2:30 p.m. – The Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) closes all park amenities with the exception of restrooms and water fountains.

The closure applies to amenities such as, but not limited to:

  • Basketball courts
  • Tennis courts
  • Skate parks
  • Playgrounds (which were already closed last week)
  • Exercise equipment (which were already closed last week)
  • Pavilions

Park green space, trails and golf course green spaces where social distancing can still be maintained remain open. The permanent restroom structures that are operational are cleaned and sanitized multiple times a day, according to PARD.

1 p.m. – Gov. Greg Abbott waives certain licensing renewal regulations for Texas pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy technician trainees. 

These waivers temporarily extend expiration dates for licenses and temporarily suspend continuing education requirements for pharmacists.

12:30 p.m. – Capital Metro is suspending all fares starting on April 1, but it is encouraging people to only take rides when it is essential.

12 p.m. – Williamson County announces that in addition to the first coronavirus death confirmed earlier in the day, the county also has two other new cases, bringing the total to 37.

10:30 a.m. – Williamson County officials announce first coronavirus death in the county, a man in his 70s.

Investigations conducted by the Williamson County and Cities Health District will identify potential contacts exposed to the virus and provide close contacts with guidance, as well as monitor them for the development of symptoms.

10 a.m. – Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) announces SNAP and Medicaid benefits will be automatically renewed so existing clients can maintain coverage during the coronavirus pandemic.

This means that clients who were up for renewal don't have to call or complete their renewal to receive continuous coverage. SNAP and Medicaid benefits are extended until further notice, and HHS will continue to provide updates to the public during the coming months.

Texas is also waiving interview requirements for households applying for SNAP. Households are not required to complete an interview before approval if identity has been verified and mandatory verification steps are completed.

Major updates from Friday, March 27:

  • A client at the Salvation Army's Downtown Austin shelter reportedly has the coronavirus. The individual is being isolated at a local hotel, according to the Salvation Army.
  • Texas State University health officials reported that a faculty member has tested positive for COVID-19. Officials said the faculty member lives in Austin and is recovering well.
  • Caldwell County reported its first case of COVID-19.
  • Austin-Travis County is now reporting 160 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There has been one death caused by the virus in Travis County.
  • Gov.  Abbott announced the deployment of three National Guard Task Force Brigades to operate 10 support units throughout the state, to assist drive through testing sites and help to bolster the state's infrastructure.

WATCH: Austin media outlets announce joint telethon to raise funds for 'All Together ATX'


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