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Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: Texas under public health disaster; 41 confirmed cases in Travis County

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

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This live blog is no longer updating. For the latest updates regarding coronavirus in Central Texas follow KVUE's March 20 blog.

KVUE is keeping you informed and providing facts not fear regarding coronavirus, the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scroll down for the top headlines and latest updates in KVUE's March 19 live blog.

Top headlines for March 19:

7 p.m. – The City of San Marcos is closing public-facing counters and most public facilities to entry from the public beginning Friday, March 20.

6:45 p.m. – City of Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell announced that starting at midnight, March 20, day cares in Kyle would be closed. Additionally, Mitchell said the City’s movie theaters were already closed.

Mitchell said he aims to have restaurants in the city still be able to have safe and healthy outdoor dining possibilities.

6:30 p.m. – There are now 41 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Travis County. 

6:30 p.m. – All driver's license offices across the state have been closed until further notice. CDL sites will offer testing by appointment only.

6:20 p.m. – Del Valle ISD announced it will provide student meals beginning on Monday, March 23. Meals are available free to all students and will be delivered at designated bus stops or for pickup at school sites between 7:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. on weekdays while the school district is closed.

6 p.m. – The city of Buda announced it will conduct all business virtually, meaning no walk-ins for utilities, police, parks, court or library services.

5:45 p.m. – IDEA public schools will close until further notice, with all planned events, athletics, field trips, after-school programs and other campus activities canceled for the remainder of the year.

IDEA said student instruction will continue online via distance learning for all students pre-K through 12 beginning on March 30. IDEA will provide copies of school materials via curbside pickup.

Campuses will provide curbside meal services for families beginning on March 23.

Select IDEA campuses will remain open to provide limited childcare for parents working in critical public safety roles such as health care, first response or city- or county-based roles. Those campuses will conduct temperature checks and limit gatherings to no more than 10 people per area.

5:45 p.m. – Austin's Moontower Comedy Festival has been postponed until Sept. 16, the festival announced on Thursday. The festival team is working to reschedule artists.

5 p.m. The Georgetown City Council votes to extend its disaster declaration from March 14 through May 11.

4:45 p.m. – The City of Burnet issues a declaration of disaster.

4 p.m. – As a measure of precaution and to minimize contact between the public and Texas Lottery Claim Center staff, all Texas Lottery Claim Centers are closed until further notice due to the novel coronavirus. All prizes can be claimed via mail.

3:50 p.m. – To prevent the spread of COVID-19, Texas Health and Human Services has temporarily suspended visitation and on-campus events at state hospitals and state-supported living centers across Texas.

3:45 p.m. - The City of Pflugerville has issued a Declaration of Public Health Emergency. The declaration will be in effect up to 7 days with the option for the council to extend it. 

3 p.m. – Texas State University announces it is moving to online courses for the remainder of the semester.

2:50 p.m. – The Department of State is advising residents not to travel internationally.

1:57 p.m. – The Housing Authority of Travis County (HATC) will open its multifamily housing waitlist on Monday, March 23, at 8 a.m. and close on Friday, March 27, at 5 p.m. You can complete the application process online. The housing agency is not providing in-person computer assistance during the open application period. You must have a current email address or phone number to complete the preliminary application and apply for the waitlist. You must also provide the full names, social security numbers, birth dates, and income information for all household members. Learn more about how to qualify here

1:15 p.m. – The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is urging any Texans in need of COVID-19 information and referrals to community resources to call 2-1-1 or (877) 541-7905 and select option 6. The social services hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can get information about testing, community clinics, unemployment benefits, housing assistance, crisis counseling and more.

12:45 p.m. The Travis County Clerks' Office recommends postponing the May 2 election after Gov. Greg Abbott's Wednesday proclamation authorizing political subdivisions holding general or special elections on May 2 to postpone their respective elections to the Nov. 3 uniform election date. Travis County has recommended each political subdivision postpone their elections until Nov. 3, and it will not be holding its own May 2 election.

12:31 p.m. – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has announced that he is placing the state under a public health disaster for the first time in more than 100 years. He also issued an executive order that includes statewide temporary closures at bars, restaurant dining rooms, gyms and schools. The executive order is not a shelter-in-place order, he said. Click here for more details.

12:15 p.m. – Confirmed Williamson County COVID-19 cases rise by four, bringing total to seven. One of those cases was sent to Travis County for monitoring.

The Moody Foundation pledges $1 million in relief funds. It will support:

  • AGE of Central Texas
  • Catholic Charities: Angels of Hope
  • Central Texas Food Bank
  • El Buen Samaritano
  • Foundation Communities
  • Hope Food Pantry Austin
  • Lifework’s Street Outreach
  • Meals on Wheels Central Texas
  • Mobile Loaves & Fishes
  • SAFE Alliance
  • The Salvation Army Shelter
  • Sunrise Community Church
  • Trinity Center

12 p.m. – Texas State Parks will be limiting park programming and closing public access to park headquarters, law enforcement and boat registration offices, visitor centers and park stores starting at 12 p.m. Thursday.

As part of these operational changes, parks will be suspending all cash transactions when possible, as well as suspending equipment rentals and interpretive programs.

Park visitors should check the Texas State Parks Alert Map regularly for the latest information about the status of parks.

11:30 a.m. – All Lee County Schools will be closing instructional facilities. Instruction will be moved to home-based and remote settings beginning (or continuing) on Monday, March 23, and will continue indefinitely. 

11 a.m. – Giddings ISD will move to home-based and remote instruction on March 23 for an indefinite amount of time. Here's a full list of Central Texas schools canceling class after spring break.

Major League Rugby (MLR) announces that all remaining 2020 matches are canceled.

10:30 a.m.  – Beginning Monday, March 23, Waste Connections, the City of Dripping Springs and the City of Pflugerville’s solid waste service provider, will temporarily limit residential trash and recycling collection to only items within carts, and suspend residential bulk and brush collection services. These changes in service are the result of Waste Connections moving into Phase III operations in response to COVID-19 and are anticipated to last through May 1, 2020.

10 a.m. – All city buildings in Taylor, Texas, will be closed until March 31. In response to Williamson County's gatherings limit of 10 people or less, the City of Taylor also canceled the following events:

  • Blackland Prairie Days scheduled for May 2
  • Bruce Lynn recognition ceremony scheduled for April 4
  • Kite Day scheduled for March 28
  • Easter Egg Hunt scheduled for April 11
  • Coffee with a Cop scheduled for April 17

8 a.m. – As of March 19, there are 23 confirmed cases in Travis County, five in Hays County and four in Williamson County.

5:30 a.m. – The epicenter of the coronavirus – Wuhan, China – and its surrounding Hubei province have reported no new cases.

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