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Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: CapMetro bus operator dies after contracting COVID-19

Here are the latest COVID-19 updates, closures and postponements in Central Texas for Wednesday, Nov. 25.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This blog is no longer active. Click here for the next day's COVID-19 blog updates.

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 Nov. 25 live blog.

COVID-19 numbers:

  • Texas: More than 1.1 million cases have been reported in the state, and more than 20,700 people in Texas have died, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
  • Central Texas counties: 
    • Travis County: At least 37,238 cases have been reported and at least 483 people have died. At least 34,196 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Hays County: At least 7,097 confirmed cases have been reported and at least 99 people have died. At least 6,290 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Williamson County: At least 12,272 cases have been reported in the county and at least 162 people have died. At least 11,304 people have recovered from the virus.

Updates:

10 p.m. – Capital Metro said a bus operator who joined CapMetro in 2019 has died after testing positive for COVID-19. This is the sixth CapMetro employee to die from the disease – the fourth bus operator, in addition to one mechanic and one MetroAccess operator.

"We mourn the passing of our friend and colleague, and our thoughts are with the employee’s family and loved ones during this time," CapMetro said in a statement on Wednesday night. "Everyone who came in close contact with this employee has been notified."

9 p.m. – On Wednesday night, Austin ISD said it will temporarily transition to remote-only instruction for the week following Thanksgiving break, Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, after Travis County entered Stage 4 of its coronavirus risk-based guidelines.

In a letter to the AISD community, Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said the district met with City and County officials along with Austin Public Health before making the decision. On-campus instruction will resume on Dec. 7.

"This decision is being made proactively to increase the likelihood of on-campus instruction for the final two weeks of the semester," said Elizalde. "By moving to 100% remote learning the week following the Thanksgiving break, the incubation period will have the opportunity to run its course and positive cases can be identified while safely at home."

She said AISD does not anticipate the need to repeat the process following the winter break as that holiday is 14 days while the Thanksgiving break was only seven.

RELATED: Austin ISD moves to remote-only learning after Thanksgiving break

6 p.m. – Travis County reported another five deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday along with 118 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 37,238 cases and 483 deaths since the start of the pandemic. At least 34,196 people have recovered from the virus.

Travis County currently has 226 people hospitalized with COVID-19, with 74 in the ICU and 48 on ventilators.

4:30 p.m. – Currently, the 2,473 staffed beds within all three local health care systems – Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health and St. David's HealthCare – are 74% occupied, and the 483 ICU beds are 82% occupied.

4 p.m. – Texas reported 200 new deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the statewide death toll to 20,950. There are 8,585 COVID-19 patients in hospitals statewide, the most since Aug. 4, up 8% from a week ago and up 65% from a month ago. The state's positivity rate average is at 10.48%

With 783 new COVID-19 cases reported on Wednesday, the multi-county Austin metro area is now over an average of 500 cases per day over the past week – up 59% from a week ago (testing in the same period is up 98%) and up 283% from a month ago. The positivity rate average for the metro area is at 3.92%.

3:45 p.m. – Texas set another record high for new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with 14,648 new cases reported statewide. The seven-day average for daily new cases is also at a new high of 11,486 per day over the past week – up 39% from a week ago and up 138% from a month ago.

1:12 p.m. – Vandegrift High School will cancel in-person learning Nov. 30, 2020 through Dec. 6, 2020, due to increased cases of COVID-19, according to school officials.  

"During the Thanksgiving break, our custodial teams continued to work and clean the building. We will ensure the facility is properly sanitized and ready for students to return. We anticipate being able to return to in-person learning and student activities starting Dec. 7, 2020."

For more information, read the full letter from the school principal to families here.

10:50 a.m. – During a Q&A the day before Thanksgiving, Austin Public Health leaders took the time to again urge families in the area to be safe. APH reminded families gathering with a group to try to keep festivities outdoors and in a spacious setting. APH said to wear a mask and wash your hands frequently. 

"We are grateful to see that there are a lot more people going and getting tested. Testing demand has increased, however, a test does not buy you a ticket to a gathering," said Dr. Jason Pickett, APH alternate health authority.

He went on to say that a day or two after getting tested, you could start to exhibit symptoms and become infectious. He said, "If you're feeling symptoms, even mild symptoms, do not be around other people." 

Regarding schools, APH said clubs and extracurriculars are where they are still seeing the most spread. APH said it's seeing community spread.  

You can watch the full briefing on KVUE's YouTube channel:

8 a.m. – Austin Public Health will give a COVID-19 update during a Q&A at 10 a.m.

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