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Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: Travis County reports 75 new confirmed COVID-19 cases

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

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This blog is no longer active. For the latest updates, check out our new live blog here

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 April 28 live blog.

Top Headlines:

Updates:

10 p.m. – According to a CNBC report, Simon Property Group has decided to open its malls on Friday. 

Under the governor's order, malls are limited to operating at 25% capacity, and shared areas like food courts and playgrounds have to stay closed. The CNBC reports states that Simon mall owners will give masks and hand sanitizer to shoppers and will also make temperature tests available.

6 p.m. – On Tuesday, Travis County reported 75 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 1,539, with 42 deaths. There have been 406 people that have recovered from the virus in the county.

A full breakdown of the cases is available on the City of Austin online dashboard.

4:15 p.m. – Hays County is now reporting 81 active COVID-19 cases out of a total of 160 lab-confirmed cases. At least 78 patients have recovered from the virus in Hays County.

4 p.m.  Blanco County officials are investigating a "potential COVID-19 cluster" after eight individuals received positive serology, or antibody, tests. Blanco County Emergency Management emphasized that there is a difference between PCR testing, which looks for the virus itself, and serology tests, which look for antibodies. 

"As such, these antibodies do not necessarily mean that someone has an ACTIVE infection, it could be a previous infection that has already resolved. Results from antibody testing should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose or exclude COVID-19 infection or to inform infection status. Further testing (PCR) is necessary," the department said.

The department also said that because none of the eight individuals have any symptoms of COVID-19 and antibody testing alone cannot be used to diagnose the virus, the State does not consider these to be confirmed cases at this time and they will not be reflected in the current case count. Read more here.

3:30 p.m. – Hays County officials said they have partnered with two Live Oak medical facilities to offer free COVID-19 testing for individuals with symptoms who are uninsured, underinsured, or indigent. Beginning Wednesday, April 29, those individuals with symptoms who cannot afford to pay for testing can begin the screening process by calling the COVID-19 hotline at 512-393-5525 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m, according to county officials. The hotline remains open for general COVID-19 questions from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Following the screening, Live Oak Health Partners Community Clinic will contact the individual to discuss whether the screening indicates a test should be given. If it is determined one should be administered, an appointment can be scheduled at its 401 Broadway, San Marcos, location or Live Oak Health Partners Primary Care in Wimberley.

Here are the qualifications for a free test:

  1. Be uninsured, underinsured, or financially unable to pay for testing/laboratory fees
  2. Meet the assessment criteria for testing, which will be determined during the screening call
  3.  Be a resident of Hays County

2 p.m. – On Tuesday, Williamson County announced it is investigating a second cluster of COVID-19 cases at a local nursing home, following the confirmation of a cluster at a facility in Round Rock.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that around 50 people, including residents and staff, at the Trinity Care Center had tested positive for the virus.

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said a paramedic who helped raise the alarm about the cluster is a “hero” who potentially helped save lives. The county has now tested every resident and staff member at the facility, he said.

RELATED: 'We have to do better': 1 nursing home has more than 35 residents with COVID-19, Austin leaders say after updating orders

Gravell did not reveal much information about the county’s second nursing home cluster, but said health officials are investigating and working to protect residents and employees at the facility.

1:30 p.m. – An eleventh Capital Metro employee has tested positive for COVID-19. This marks its ninth driver who has tested positive. 

1 p.m. – Nearly an hour after the county announced it's seventh death via a press releaseWilliamson County Judge Bill Gravel announced an eighth death in the county from coronavirus in a virtual press conference. 

LISTEN TO THE FULL PRESS CONFERENCE HERE

12:15 p.m. – Williamson County has announced another death from COVID-19, a woman in her 60s.

"As joyful as I am that we are beginning to open up Williamson County at the end of this week, we are again reminded of the seriousness of this disease. Today, we lost another resident of our Williamson County. My prayers are with her family," said Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell. 

There are a total of 287 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Williamson County, with 155 people recovered from the virus.

12:10 p.m. – The Texas Medical Association announced it will work with state agencies, county medical societies and other statewide health organizations to establish an online portal where health professionals can apply for shipments of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Applications will be forwarded to through eight Hospital Preparedness Programs and Regional Advisory Councils to make the supplies available for county medical societies and other organizations to distribute. Supplies will be prioritized based on medical practices' current supply of N95 respirators and other PPE, as well as typical daily usage, medical specialty, patient population and other factors.

12 p.m. – KVUE learns an Austin-area nursing home has had 12 patients die from COVID-19. Here's what we know.

11:30 a.m. – Williamson County announces that it has received $93,382,340.10 through the CARES Act.

“The federal government has decided that the local governments are the most knowledgeable and best prepared to decide how to disperse this money. This is a large amount of money; however I would much rather that local officials make the decision on how to use this money than to leave that decision to Washington,” said Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell.

11:20 a.m. – Austin ISD announced that out of an abundance of caution, deliveries on routes served by buses 2161, 2162 and 2165 have been canceled until Monday, May 4. This cancellation is due to an employee that was not feeling well, but did not have symptoms, in the kitchen that services the affected bus routes, AISD said. The employee was tested for COVID-19 on April 27 and staff who were in direct contact have been asked to quarantine until results are released. The affected bus stops are listed below:

2161

  • Paredes Middle School
  • Island Oak Dr & Auction Oak Dr
  • Desert Willow Lp & Desert Primrose Dr
  • Wayne Riddell Loop & Carismatic Lane
  • S 1st St & Southpark Meadows Drive

2162

  • O'Callahan Drive & Eruzione Drive
  • Alyssas Dr & Olivers Way
  • Elm Valley Drive & Sparkle Drive
  • Arroyo Doble Dr & Bear Canyon Dr
  • Torreon Dr & Altamira St

2165

  • Ravenscroft Drive & Pickard Lane
  • Easy Street & Chappell Lane
  • 10601 Menchaca Rd
  • Rockland Dr & Maydelle Dr
  • Garbacz Drive & Geoffs Drive
  • Kocurek Elementary

Check back on this live blog for the latest updates Tuesday.

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