AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This blog is no longer active. To get 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 22 live blog.
- Austin-Travis County health authority issues updated control orders for nursing homes, long-term care facilities
- Austin-Travis County coronavirus cases reach 1,233, 27 deaths
- Texas' peak in COVID-19 deaths most likely a couple weeks away, UT research shows
- Amid COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 481K jobs available across Texas, Gov. Abbott says
- Oil prices plummeting: Why it's happening and what that means for Texas
- The state unemployment trust fund is set to run out of money, but you will get paid
- When and where you can get an 'emergency food' kit from the Central Texas Food Bank this month
- LIST: Confirmed Central Texas coronavirus cases by county
- Need a job? These Austin-area stores, other businesses are hiring right now
8:45 p.m. – The City of Austin said last April, riders took more than 500,000 trips on scooters. But so far this month, there have only been about 6,300 trips and some companies have decided to pull their scooters out of service in Austin for the time being.
8:30 p.m. – Austin's spring 2020 Pecan Street Festival, scheduled for May 2 and 3, will be offering a virtual experience this year.
The festival said it will build its website with links to vendors, sponsors, musicians and performers – along with a SoundCloud channel featuring them. The website will feature live and pre-recorded performances and workshops over the festival weekend.
Interactive activities such as yoga, meditation, trivia and giveaways will also be offered.
7 p.m. – Albertsons Companies, which owns Randalls supermarkets in Central Texas, has announced a $50 million hunger relief program across the 34 states it operates, through its Nourishing Neighbors Community Relief campaign.
The fundraising in Central Texas will continue through at least April 30. The total includes funding raised through an in-store campaign, plus the company's additional commitment of $53 million nationwide.
6 p.m. – Travis County is reporting 30 more confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and one more death from the virus, bringing the total to 1,263 cases and 28 deaths. There have been 344 recoveries from the coronavirus in the county.
More details can be found on the City of Austin COVID-19 online dashboard.
5:50 p.m. – Blanco County Judge Brett Bray rescinds stay-in-place order, including the curfew. However, Bray said the rescission is not an "all clear" as Gov. Abbott's orders requiring social distancing and defining essential businesses allowed to provide services are still in place.
Under Bray's subsequent order, employers are required to ensure hand sanitizer or soap and water are available for employees and that hand sanitizer is available to the public. County EMS agencies are required to ensure each business is operating in a safe manner, in cooperation with the order. And the order requires an entire household to quarantine in the event a member tests positive for COVID-19.
A violation of the judge's or the governor's orders is punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 and jail time not to exceed 180 days.
5:45 p.m. – Bastrop County is now reporting 52 confirmed cases, 11 recoveries and two deaths.
4:20 p.m. – The University of Texas at Austin confirms 62 students who went to Cabo San Lucas for spring break have tested positive for COVID-19, up from 53 one week ago.
UT reported 94 total students have tested positive or presumed positive, up 10 from last week.
4:15 p.m. – Hays County is now reporting 77 active cases of COVID-19, out of 143 total lab-confirmed cases. The county has had one coronavirus-related death and at least 65 patients have recovered from the virus.
The Bastrop County Health Authority and Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management announce they will be randomly testing people at 14 locations across the county on Thursday and Friday. Approximately 150 will be selected at random to participate.
“Random testing is done so there is a better understanding of the pattern and spread of COVID-19 in the County,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Bastrop County Health Authority.
The purpose of the study is to collect data from adults who have not been ill with or tested positive for COVID-19.
The benefits of random testing include:
- Important tool in the fight to slow and reduce the spread and impact of the virus.
- Helps to allocate medical resources and staff more efficiently.
- Help officials with planning and guidelines for when businesses and other community activities are able to reopen.
4 p.m. – Gov. Greg Abbott temporarily allows Texas higher education institutions to transfer all unexpended student financial aid funds from the Texas College Work-Study (TCWS) program to other financial aid programs that don't have a work-study requirement. Those programs include the TEXAS Grant program, the Texas Educational Opportunity Grant program and the Tuition Equalization Grant program.
This waiver will help students who normally rely on the TWCS program receive other forms of financial assistance.
3:50 p.m. – Gov. Abbott said hair salons and shopping inside stores could be coming soon, as the State works "around the clock" on safe protocols for employers and customers to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"We’re going to be making an announcement opening so many different types of businesses, where you’re going to be able to go to a hair salon … go to any type of retail establishment you want to go to, different things like that, with a structure in place that will ensure that we slow the spread of the coronavirus," the governor told a Lubbock radio show.
3:40 p.m. – At the request of Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhart and Austin Mayor Steve Adler, the Austin Chamber of Commerce says it will announce the formation of the "Opening Central Texas for Business Task Force" tomorrow.
The chamber said the work of the task force is to "honor public health priorities and focus on how to thoughtfully and safely reopen the regional economy."
3:10 p.m. – Gov. Abbott's office announces the State will temporarily waive certain testing requirements for Advance Practice Registered Nurses. New APRN graduates who have applied for licensure with the Board of Nursing and have met all licensure requirements exception national certification may begin practicing under the direct supervision of a physician. The graduate approval does not include prescriptive authority.
1:30 p.m. – San Marcos Mayor Jane Hughson ordered parks to remain closed until further notice. Hughson also issued a new public health advisory, strongly recommending San Marcos residents follow CDC guidelines for social distancing and wearing masks in public.
Hughson said natural areas will remain open, but visitors must observe CDC recommendations for social distancing.
The following San Marcos parks remain closed until further notice:
- San Marcos River parks: Rio Vista Park, City Park, Plaza Park, Veramendi Park, Bicentennial Park, Children’s Park, Crook Park, Veteran’s Memorial Park, Dog Beach, Capes Park, Thompson’s Island, Stokes Park, Ramon Lucio Park and Wildlife Annex/Wilderness Park
- Other park facility closures: Children’s Park Playscape, City Park Playscape, all neighborhood park playscapes, neighborhood park basketball courts, Dog Park and Skate Park.
- Public restroom facilities and water fountains in all city parks and natural areas will remain closed until further notice.
These natural areas remain open, but visitors must keep at least 6 feet of distance and not gather in groups of more than five people:
- Natural areas: Blanco Shoals Natural Area; Prospect Park Natural Area; Purgatory Creek Natural Area; Ring Tail Ridge Natural Area; Schulle Canyon Natural Area; Sessom Creek Natural Area; and Spring Lake Natural Area.
1 p.m. – Capital Metro said three bus drivers who tested positive for COVID-19 have since recovered and returned to work. There are no new cases of COVID-19 at CapMetro.
12:45 p.m. – Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative announced that its board of directors approved $4.2 million in capital credits and assistance for members impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Credits will be returned to all of the member-owners of the cooperative. Starting in May, members will receive a credit on their electric bill for their share of $4.2 million, an increase of $500,000 from last year’s amount.
Directors also approved assistance to nonprofit organizations that are part of Bluebonnet’s energy assistance program. Over 24 nonprofit organizations provide financial assistance for Bluebonnet’s members to help pay their electric bills.
12:30 p.m. – Williamson County announces nine new cases, bringing total to 167.
11 a.m. – Austin health leaders confirmed during a live interview that one nursing home has more than 35 residents and a "number of staff," that have been infected with COVID-19. Officials did not release the name of the facility. When KVUE asked why Austin refuses to release information on locations of nursing homes with COVID-19 outbreaks, Dr. Mark Escott said personal health privacy laws in Texas laws prevent them from releasing that information.
9:20 a.m. – At 10 a.m., Austin health authority Dr. Mark Escott is scheduled to break down new guidelines that have been updated in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at nursing homes, assisted living and other long-term care facilities. You can watch the press conference in the video above when it starts.
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- The state unemployment trust fund is set to run out of money, but you will get paid
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