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Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: Travis, Hays and Mason report more numbers

Here are the latest COVID-19 updates, closures and postponements in Central Texas for Wednesday, April 29.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This blog is no longer active.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 29 live blog.

Top Headlines:

Updates:

6:10 p.m. –  Travis County is now reporting 1,591 confirmed cases, 44 deaths and 427 recoveries.

Citing an increase due to recent "mass testing," Mason County reports its numbers of confirmed cases have grown from five to 17.

4:45 p.m. Hays County reports five new cases. As of today, 165 cases have now been confirmed with 91 recoveries and 73 cases still active.

RELATED: LIST: Confirmed Central Texas coronavirus cases by county

3:30 p.m.  Austin 311 says it has received 18,677 coronavirus-related calls since March 4.

2 p.m. Gov. Abbott and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service announce a series of free online trainings for child care providers and parents who are in need of or who will be providing care for children of essential employees throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first three trainings are available on Texas A&M AgriLife’s online learning platform. Additional free training sessions will be rolled out incrementally and will address health and safety guidelines, practices for staffing, essential materials for child care operations, developmentally appropriate activities, adult-child interactions and more. Topics such as emergency management planning, stress management and self-care for caregivers, planning at-home activities for children, parent-child communication, and supporting children’s emotional needs will also be addressed.

12:40 p.m. – Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan asked Gov. Greg Abbott to allow the city to hold a local election in August after Abbott postponed May 2 local elections over coronavirus concerns.

Morgan said an August election – rather than an election on Nov. 3 – would allow newly elected city councilmembers to participate in votes on the budget and tax rates for the fiscal year 2021, which begins on Oct. 1. 

"The elected officials of Round Rock understand and support why you felt it important that the May 2, 2020 election be postponed," Morgan wrote in a letter on Wednesday. "The COVID-19 pandemic left all of us with little choice in the matter. However, we believe that there are legitimate public health and safety and other important considerations for allowing local governments the flexibility to move the May 2020 election to a date earlier than November 3, 2020." 

Other Texas cities joined the city of Round Rock in its request, including the cities of Abilene, Addison, Allen, Anna, Big Spring, Cedar Park, Fairview, Haskell, the Town of Providence Village and Lytle Lake WCID.

12:30 p.m. – Williamson County officials announced they will let the local "Stay Home Stay Safe" order expire on April 30 amid Gov. Abbott's executive orders issued on April 27. Starting May 1, Williamson County businesses will follow Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s executive orders issued April 27, 2020, which allow businesses to reopen safely and strategically in phases, while minimizing the spread of COVID-19, county officials said in a press release.

“Governor Abbott is leading Texas in a positive direction, and the orders are reasonable and thoughtful. In the days ahead, you will see Williamson County stand strong and respond to this new direction, while staying vigilant to protect the most vulnerable in our community,” said Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell.  

County Judge Bill Gravell is echoing Gov. Abbott’s sentiment and is strongly encouraging people over the age of 65 to stay at home as much as possible.

Although the "Stay Home Stay Safe" Order is expiring, the county’s local disaster declaration is still in effect, officials said. Williamson County elected officials and department heads are making plans for the re-opening of county offices. Information will be available on the county website as it becomes available.  

12:24 p.m. –  The originating partners of the Pflugerville Pfund, a local small business emergency grant, announced that the Mellenbruch and Meigs families in Pflugerville are contributing matching funds up to $10,000 for companies with fewer than 50 employees within the Pflugerville city limits/Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ). To learn more or to donate matching funds, please go to the chamber website at https://www.pfchamber.com/pflugerville-pfund. 

12:15 p.m. – The City of Austin announced it has taken steps to ensure customers experiencing hardships due to COVID-19 can get immediate utility bill relief. The Plus 1 Emergency Financial Support Program helps customers who are having financial difficulties and are unable to pay their utility bills due to unexpected emergencies, according to City officials. Now, customers can apply for help with their utility bills at AustinBillHelp.com. The website – available in English and Spanish – allows Austin Energy and Austin Water customers to apply for help online. The City said customers are eligible for Plus 1 emergency assistance if they, or a member of their household, have experienced a financial hardship, loss of job, or reduction in income related to COVID-19. This includes financial hardships based on illness, caring for a family member, shelter in place orders and the resulting closure of non-essential businesses, as well as school closures. 

12:11 p.m. – Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan has sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott requesting a proclamation that would allow Round Rock and other public entities to conduct elections in August. Abbott issued a proclamation in March postponing May 2 local elections due to concerns of spreading the Coronavirus.  

 "The elected officials of Round Rock understand and support why you felt it important that the May 2, 2020 election be postponed," Morgan writes. "The Covid-19 pandemic left all of us with little choice in the matter. However, we believe that there are legitimate public health and safety and other important considerations for allowing local governments the flexibility to move the May 2020 election to a date earlier than November 3, 2020." 

9:52 a.m. – St. David’s HealthCare’s CareNow Urgent Care announced it has launched Virtual Care, a telehealth urgent care service. Virtual urgent care visits allow patients to see and talk to a provider from a mobile device or computer, according to St. David’s HealthCare. Patients can visit a trusted healthcare professional from the comfort of their home or office. Patients start the process by going to CareNow.com during urgent care clinic hours and checking in for Virtual Care. The clinic staff then sends a link through a text message that the patient uses to access the fully interactive virtual visit with a CareNow provider. For more information regarding all CareNow services and locations, visit CareNow.com.

9:09 a.m. – Gov. Greg Abbott announced he has suspended a statute concerning appearance before a notary public to acknowledge real-estate instruments such as mortgages. This suspension temporarily allows for appearance before a notary public via videoconference when executing such documents, avoiding the need for in-person contact during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Abbott's office. The conditions that will apply whenever this suspension is invoked can be found here.

"Texas is providing flexibility in the notarization process by way of this temporary suspension to ensure Texans can continue to stay home as much as possible to keep themselves and others safe," said Gov. Abbott. "Allowing for appearance before a notary public via videoconference will aid in our continued efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health."

This suspension will remain in effect until the earlier of May 30, 2020, or until the March 13, 2020, disaster declaration is lifted or expires. Documents executed while this suspension is in effect, and in accordance with its terms, will remain valid after the termination of this suspension.

9 a.m. – At an April 28 meeting, Pflugerville City Council discussed plans to reestablish City services, programs and events in phases over the coming weeks. This comes after Gov. Abbott announced a plan to reopen businesses across Texas starting May 1. Certain businesses, including retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, malls, libraries and museums may reopen with a maximum occupancy of 25%. The Texas Department of Health and Human Services has provided further guidance on safe practices for reopening at http://gov.texas.gov/opentexas.

“It has been hard on us all to change our lifestyles and see the effects that COVID-19 has had not only on our physical health, but our economic health as well,” Mayor Victor Gonzales said. “Our friends and neighbors, local businesses and I have all been impacted by this pandemic. Resuming our previous lifestyles will be quick for some and take a while for others, and that’s ok. As we begin to reopen and return to our daily lives, I urge you to open safely and cautiously.  We know the disease isn’t gone, but we can open in ways that still preserve the community’s health.”

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

WATCH: What dining out will look like in Texas starting May 1

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