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Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: 44 UT spring breakers have tested positive for COVID-19

Here are the latest COVID-19 updates, closures and postponements in Central Texas for Wednesday, April 1.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This blog is no longer active. For the latest updates, check out Thursday's 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 1 live blog.

Top Headlines:


8:45 p.m. – Austin Code inspectors will monitor construction sites starting on Thursday, to ensure social distancing and recommended hygiene practices are being observed, the City of Austin Development Services Department said on Wednesday.

The announcement comes after Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order on Tuesday classifying construction as an essential service. That order supersedes Austin and Travis County's orders, which only allowed limited construction, such as affordable housing projects.

8:30 p.m. – Bastrop County is reporting its seventh confirmed case of COVID-19.

8 p.m. – UT Austin confirms 44 students who participated in the JusCollege spring break trip to Cabo San Lucas have now tested positive for coronavirus, up from 28 cases in the group on Tuesday. Read more.

7:10 p.m. – Texas State University says it will adjust its delivery of Summer I courses and provide emergency financial aid to better meet student needs during the coronavirus pandemic. All scheduled class sections that begin in June will be online/remote delivery.  

For now, Texas State plans to return to both face-to-face and online classroom delivery for the Summer II session (July 6 through Aug. 5). 

Currently, financial aid processing is not directly affected. The Pell Grant is still available for summer classes based on student eligibility. Students will be given emergency financial aid of $50 per semester credit hour.  

The university also announced its New Student Orientation sessions will be held virtually this summer. 

Click here for more information.

6:50 p.m. – The JMBLYA music festival, scheduled for Austin on May 2, has been postponed until fall 2020, with rescheduled dates to be announced in the coming months. The festival was slated to take place in Dallas, Austin and Houston from May 1 to May 3 and featured artists such as A$AP Rocky, Lil Uzi Vert and Playboi Carti.

6 p.m. – A person in their 20s is in a critical condition at a local hospital from COVID-19, the City of Austin said on Wednesday.

Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott urged the public to stay home except for essential activities.

"It is important to understand that young people are not immune from serious illness," Dr. Escott said. "We implore the community to stay at home even if you are not feeling ill, and before leaving your house ask yourself, 'Is this trip necessary?'"

5 p.m. - Following Tuesday's essential-services only order issued by the State, Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton have issued further guidance on how the order affects church services. The guidance can be read in full here.

4:50 p.m. - Communities In Schools of Central Texas (CIS) is mobilizing to meet student needs. In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, CIS said it is going beyond school walls to meet students where they are and ensure that their basic needs do not go unmet. From March 23 to March 27, 162 CIS staff, AmeriCorps members, and university interns worked from home and completed wellness and immediate needs check-ins with 1,652 Central Texas families in seven local school districts – Austin, Bastrop, Del Valle, Elgin, Hays, Lockhart and Manor. Communities In Schools of Central Texas has set up an emergency fund for students and families impacted by COVID-19. In the first week of outreach to families, CIS provided $10,698 in gift cards and emergency housing assistance. 

4:40 p.m. – Austin-Travis County is now reporting 305 cases, with three deaths. The third death was a man in his 60s.

4:30 p.m. – Gov. Greg Abbott releases video message to Texans as his latest executive order goes into effect, requiring all residents to only leave their homes for essential services.

Watch the video below:

4:20 p.m. – The Hays County Local Health Department confirms 32 active lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

4:10 p.m. – Burnet County amends "stay home and stay safe" order to clarify what businesses are deemed non-essential.

In the updated order, County Judge James Oakley stated non-essential businesses include barbershops, beauty salons, nail salons, tanning salons, massage therapist providers, spas, tattoo parlors, boutiques, jewelry shops, antique shops, secondhand shops, thrift shops, gift shops, vape stores, party supply stores, video stores, book stores and comic book shops.

The updated order also states that all hotels and motels must close any pools and hot tubs. Additionally, boating is allowed but only if there are 10 or fewer occupants and all occupants are from the same household. Read Oakley's full post.

3:45 p.m. – Austin Community College (ACC) said its campuses will remain closed until at least May 31. Students will be offered a pass/no-pass option this spring semester. All face-to-face courses and services are suspended for the semester, ACC said.

3:30 p.m. – Lee County confirms its first positive case of coronavirus. Mason County remains the final county in the KVUE viewing area that has not yet reported a case.

3 p.m. – In a live Q&A with KVUE on Wednesday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said the City and Travis County could adopt stricter social distancing measures after residents have been spotted crowding in parks and at the Barton Springs spillway, despite stay-at-home orders.

Adler also said Austin is setting up isolation facilities, including a 300-room hotel, in anticipation of a surge of cases.

2:50 p.m. - KVUE’s Bryan Mays, Yvonne Nava, Terri Gruca, Quita Culpepper and Mike Rush are hosting a live Q&A with Austin Mayor Steve Adler. Watch the Q&A on KVUE's YouTube channel.

2 p.m. - Texas State University has loaned seven ventilators to St. David’s North Austin Medical Center to help treat COVID-19 patients. Last week, the university also loaned four ventilators to Ascension Seton Williamson in Round Rock. The university’s Department of Respiratory Care uses a total of 14 ventilators to train respiratory therapists. It has now loaned 11 of its 14 ventilators.

1:45 p.m. - Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) announce they have taken initial action to provide tenant-based rental assistance for Texans going through financial hardships due to COVID-19. Gov. Abbott has waived statutes relating to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) HOME Investments Partnership program, which would allow Texas more flexibility to use program funds to aid certain Texans in paying rent. Additionally, TDHCA has sent a letter to HUD asking for federal waivers to give more flexibility to the state to reprogram these funds for that purpose. If granted, the waivers will allow Texas to reprogram these funds to provide financial housing assistance to certain Texans enduring economic hardships related to the virus.

12:15 p.m. - Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement regarding the recently passed $2 trillion federal stimulus package intended to relieve the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a special focus on unemployed workers and the state’s hardest-hit businesses. 

"We appreciate the speedy passage of this stimulus package designed to provide much-needed relief for hardworking Texas families who have been economically impacted by COVID-19," said Gov. Abbott. "While the state of Texas continues to take action to protect public health, we are also committed to working with our federal partners to ensure Texans have the financial relief they need during this time.”

Workers are the main beneficiaries of the stimulus dollars, whether their situation consists of reduced hours, furlough, or termination related to COVID-19. Self-employed Texans whose businesses have failed under the stress of the global pandemic may also be eligible as well, according to Abbott's office.

12:10 p.m. – Williamson County confirmed five new cases on Wednesday, bringing the county's total to 55 COVID-19 cases. There has been one death in Williamson County caused by the virus .

12 p.m. - Fayette County confirms third case reportedly by community spread.

9 a.m. - Sendero Health Plans, the community-based non-profit health maintenance organization serving the Austin-area, announced that the company’s Board of Directors voted to waive all costs to its members for treatment of COVID-19 with in-network providers.

8:45 a.m. - Gov. Greg Abbott announced a new round of grants totaling $14.1 million from the Texas Military Preparedness Commission’s (TMPC) Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant (DEAAG) program awarded to various military communities across the state. This program assists defense communities that may be positively or negatively impacted by a future Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round, according to Abbott's office. The governor said the grant money will be invested in infrastructure projects and other initiatives to increase the military value of military installations in Texas and protect jobs.

The City of San Marcos utility and transportation systems have created policies to make sure residents have full-service access to water, wastewater treatment, transportation and electric power throughout this COVID-19 pandemic event. The new policies include changes in personnel assignments, schedules and hours to minimize contact between employees.

8:30 a.m. - Austin Resource Recovery (ARR) launched an app called Austin Recycles that allows customers to receive reminders about their regular trash, recycling, compost and other curbside collections. The app will also let users know about collection delays or service interruptions.

“It is more important than ever for Austinites to stay informed of changes to their regular routines,” said Austin Resource Recovery Director Ken Snipes. “We have all been impacted by big changes these last few weeks, and the launch of this app is just one small way to stay up-to-date on any impact to collection services in the future.”

8 a.m. - DAV and RecruitMilitary announce they have rescheduled the Austin Veterans Job Fair as a virtual event. This is a free virtual hiring event for veterans, transitioning military personnel, National Guard members, Reserve members and military spouses.

It will take place on April 2 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information and to register, click here.

WATCH: Seeing the good in a positive coronavirus test


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