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Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: Travis County reports 68 new cases, one death

Here are the latest COVID-19 updates, closures and postponements in Central Texas for Thursday, May 21.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This blog is no longer active.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 May 21 live blog.

COVID-19 numbers:

  • Texas: More than 51,000 cases have been reported in the state, and more than 1,400 people in Texas have died, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The department estimates more than 30,300 people have recovered from the virus.
  • Central Texas counties: 
    • Travis County: More than 2,600 cases have been reported and at least 82 people have died. More than 920 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Williamson County: More than 510 cases have been reported and at least 20 people have died. More than 280 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Hays County: There have been at least 250 cases reported in the county and at least three people have died. Around 155 people have recovered from the virus.

Top headlines:


6:30 p.m. – Austin-Travis County health officials have reported 68 new cases of COVID-19 and one new death, bringing the total number of cases in the county to 2,712. There are now 83 reported with 937 reported recoveries.

RELATED: LIST: Confirmed Central Texas coronavirus cases by county

5:23 p.m. – The Williamson County Wilco Forward grant program, which was started to provide financial assistance to local businesses impacted by COVID-19, has issued more than $15 million in grants as of May 21. A total of 1,287 checks have been mailed to business owners who needed support to get back on their feet. Applications are still being accepted and can be submitted online through the county’s website at www.wilco.org/forward to the Williamson County Auditor’s Office. The money will be issued as applications are processed until the $25 million in budgeted funds are exhausted. The deadline to apply is June 30, 2020.  

5:15 p.m. – Hays County health officials have reported eight new cases of COVID-19 in the county, bringing the total number of active cases up to 97. There have been a total of 158 reported recoveries so far and three fatalities. Currently, six people are hospitalized due to COVID-19.

5:08 p.m. – Here is the latest coronavirus data from the State of Texas.

There was one new death in the Austin area, in Travis County, bringing the total to 109. There were 21 new deaths in Texas. New coronavirus cases dipped back under 1,000 and hospitalizations were down slightly. 

4:51 p.m. – The City of Austin, Notley and Uber Technologies Inc. have announced they will be giving away $120,000 in free rides to nonprofits or individuals with essential transportation needs. Uber’s free ride credits will be allocated by the City of Austin and Notley. The strategic distribution of the funds will be focused on maximizing the impact of organizations and city-identified initiatives that support vulnerable communities facing hardship due to COVID-19, according to Notley officials. A portion of the funds will also be reserved for individual ride credit requests for essential workers and other people in need of transportation support during this pandemic.

"We appreciate both the donation of these credits and the work of Notley to get them into the hands of those they can help," said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. "Coming together to help neighbors is the 'Austin way,' not just for individuals but also for the companies who do business here."

The first $10,000 of free rides credit has been committed to Any Baby Can, a local nonprofit that supports families and children with cancer, developmental delays, and other medical concerns. Any Baby Can will now be able to deliver approximately 650+ prepared meals to families’ homes each week. 

3:15 p.m. – Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller announced that the Summer Meal Programs for Texas families have started early due to school closures caused by COVID-19. Administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA), the Summer Meal Programs normally open in June to serve healthy, no-cost meals to children and teens 18 and younger and enrolled students with disabilities up to 21 years old. However, due to the pandemic, nonprofits, libraries, schools and other community organizations have been allowed to open thousands of meal sites to serve their communities. 

Commissioner Miller encourages Texas families to use one of the following three ways to find a nearby meal site:

  • Text "FOODTX" to 877-877 for meal site information in English or text "COMIDA" to 877-877 for information in Spanish
  • Visit www.summerfood.org to access an interactive meal site map  
  • Call 2-1-1 to speak to a live operator in English or Spanish

2:15 p.m. – Gov. Abbott has directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to expand COVID-19 testing to cover all patients, residents and staff at state-operated inpatient psychiatric hospitals and living centers. This affects 23 facilities.

According to the governor's office, 161 patients and residents have tested positive for COVID-19 as of May 20. 107 of those residents have reportedly recovered from the virus.

1:20 p.m. – Gov. Abbott has lifted all mandatory 14-day self-quarantine restrictions for travelers arriving in Texas from Washington, California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit and Miami in a new executive order. The restrictions are lifted immediately. 

RELATED: Texas DPS troopers are enforcing Gov. Abbott's travel rules

12:50 p.m. – Williamson County announces seven new cases and 12 new recoveries. A total of 520 cases have now been confirmed, with 292 recoveries now reported.

RELATED: LIST: Confirmed Central Texas coronavirus cases by county

12:30 p.m. – Gov. Greg Abbott announces that the Texas Department of Public Safety will begin a phased reopening of driver's license offices starting on May 26 with limited offerings by appointment only.

As a part of this plan, the DPS will launch a statewide appointment system that allows appointments to be made six months in advance.

"This phased opening of our driver license offices and the launch of DPS' online appointment system prioritizes the health and safety of our communities and ensures Texans have access to the services they need at their local driver license offices," said Gov. Abbott. "I thank DPS for developing this safe and strategic plan to open their offices and for launching a new appointment system to streamline our driver license services."

The four-phase plan is as follows:

  • Phase 1: Offices in DPS’ Northwest and West Texas regions will reopen with limited services beginning May 26, 2020. Customers who currently do not possess a Texas DL, CDL, learner permit or ID card, as well those who are in need of a driving test, can begin scheduling appointments in these two regions on May 22 at 1 p.m.
  • Phase 2: Offices in DPS’ South and Central Texas regions will reopen with limited services beginning May 29, 2020. Customers who currently do not possess a Texas DL, CDL, learner permit or ID card, as well those who are in need of a driving test, can begin scheduling appointments in these two regions on May 26 at 1 p.m.
  • Phase 3: Offices in DPS’ North and Southeast Texas regions will reopen with limited services beginning June 3, 2020. Customers who currently do not possess a Texas DL, CDL, learner permit or ID card, as well those who are in need of a driving test, can begin scheduling appointments in these two regions on May 29 at 1 p.m.
  • Phase 4 will allow customers to schedule an appointment for all DL office transactions anywhere in the state and is expected to begin midsummer. DPS will announce details on this phase at a later date. Extension for expiration dates will remain in effect until phase 4 is implemented.

11:45 p.m. –  Austin ISD announces that it will continue to serve meals to children under the age of 19 throughout the summer at 70 different locations.

Breakfast and lunch will be offered Monday through Friday at curbside and bus stop meal sites. Weekend meal packs will be served on Fridays, providing breakfast and lunch for Saturday and Sunday.

Starting on June 1, curbside meal sites will be open at an earlier time, moving service to 9 a.m. through 11 a.m. Adjustments will also be made for the bus stop meal delivery schedule.

Meals will not be served while the district is closed from July 6 through 10.

For more information, click here.

11:33 a.m.  Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann announces that she and her husband have tested positive for COVID-19.

10:15 a.m. – CapMetro announced its free fare period will be coming to an end on May 31, and fares will resume starting June 1. In addition, CapMetro introduced its Workforce Aid Pass, a program that will offer fare-free service to anyone who is experiencing unemployment for the month of June.

6:10 a.m. – The Central Texas Food Bank will distribute 28-pound boxes of food and hygiene products at Del Valle High School Thursday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

WATCH: Health leaders answer COVID-19 questions


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