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Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: Travis County reports four more COVID-19 deaths, 29 new confirmed cases

Here are the latest COVID-19 updates, closures and postponements in Central Texas for Friday, May 1, as Texas begins to gradually reopen.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This blog is no longer active.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

Friday, May 1, Texas will partially reopen in phase one of Gov. Greg Abbott's plan to gradually reopen the state. Some restaurants, malls, retail stores and movie theaters will reopen at a reduced capacity, but bars, gyms, nail salons and other businesses are not allowed to reopen

If you plan on going to a restaurant, you can expect to see some changes such as disposable menus and no condiments on the tables. Here's a checklist of what restaurants are recommended to do. Retail stores will also roll out recommendations for customers such as staying six feet away from others and wearing a face-covering or mask. Here's a list.

Scroll down for the top headlines and latest updates in KVUE's May 1 live blog.

Top Headlines:

COVID-19 Updates:

6:55 p.m. – Austin Mayor Steve Adler is asking Austinites to join in applause at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 6, from wherever they are to celebrate nurses and medical workers and kick off National Nurses Week. That evening, Austin buildings will be lit blue. National Nurses Week runs from May 6 to May 12.

6:30 p.m.  – Hays County is now reporting 67 active cases, 99 recoveries, 167 total confirmed cases and one death.

6:15 p.m. – Travis County reported four more deaths from COVID-19 and 29 more confirmed cases, bringing the total to 1,683 cases in the county and 51 deaths. There are 497 reported recoveries.

For a full breakdown of coronavirus cases in Travis County, visit the City of Austin online dashboard.

5:21 p.m. – The City of Austin has provided guidance on activities and information for businesses that have recently opened, or plan to open soon, under Governor Abbott’s April 17 Executive Order GA-18 which supersedes some provisions of the “Stay Home – Work Safe” Order .  

GA-18 allows several non-essential services and businesses to open as a part of the phased approach to reopening Texas. The services eligible to reopen as of May 1 include in-store retail services, some dine-in restaurant services, movie theaters, museums, libraries and shopping malls that may operate at 25% of the total listed occupancy. 

  • For information about how to obtain a temporary occupancy load calculation, visit here.
  • View Frequently Asked Questions about GA-18 here.

4:26 p.m. – Buda Mayor George Haehn has amended his April 21 order to mirror the Executive Orders to reopen Texas issued by Gov. Greg Abbott on April 27. Here are the key points of Mayor Haehn’s May 1, 2020, Amended Order: 

City of Buda Parks and HOA Managed Parks

  • All park restrooms will open to the public no later than Tuesday, May 5. Parks staff will clean restrooms daily. Water fountains, including at the Buda Dog Park, will remain closed. Please bring your own water. 
  • Jackson Tyler Norris Skatepark will open to the public no later than Tuesday, May 5. Please follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Soccer and softball fields will open to the public no later than Tuesday, May 5, but citizens may not congregate in groups larger than 4. This also applies to HOA-managed fields.
  • All other sports fields, playscapes, basketball courts, and other facilities remain closed to the public until further notice. This also applies to HOA-managed parks.
  • Reservations of any parks facility, open or closed, are not allowed. Any existing reservations of these facilities are canceled. Members of the public will need to cancel or postpone any events at City parks or HOA-managed parks.
  • Trails, green spaces and tables in both City parks and HOA-managed parks remain open. Please observe social distancing guidelines while using park trails, green spaces and tables.
  • The opening of Green Meadows Splash Pad is delayed until further notice. Splash pads at HOA-managed parks will also remain closed.  

Retail Businesses and Social Distancing Procedures

  • Retailers must mark the floor at six-foot intervals at registers or other areas where lines are formed to ensure that customers maintain a safe distance from one another.
  • Retailers must post notice of a “stand-off” rule, which requires customers to maintain a distance of six feet from one another as much as is practicable.

4 p.m. – The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it is processing payments from the Provider Relief Fund to hospitals with large numbers of COVID-19 inpatient admissions through April 10, 2020, and to rural providers in support of the national response to COVID-19.

"These new payments are being distributed to healthcare providers who have been hardest hit by the virus: $12 billion to facilities admitting large numbers of COVID-19 patients and $10 billion to providers in rural areas, who are already working on narrow margins," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. "HHS has put these funds out as quickly as possible, after gathering data to ensure that they are going to the providers who need them the most. With another $75 billion recently appropriated by Congress, the Trump Administration will continue doing everything we can to support America's heroic healthcare providers on the frontlines of this war on the virus."

HHS gave the following statement on the Provider Relief Fund: 

COVID-19 High-Impact Distribution:

Recognizing the particular impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on hospitals in certain parts of the nation, and that inpatient admissions are a primary driver of costs to hospitals related to COVID-19, HHS is distributing $12 billion to 395 hospitals who provided inpatient care for 100 or more COVID-19 patients through April 10, 2020, $2 billion of which will be distributed to these hospitals based on their Medicare and Medicaid disproportionate share and uncompensated care payments.

These 395 hospitals accounted for 71 percent of COVID-19 inpatient admissions reported to HHS from nearly 6,000 hospitals around the country. The distribution uses a simple formula to determine what each hospital receives: hospitals are paid a fixed amount per COVID-19 inpatient admission, with an additional amount taking into account their Medicare and Medicaid disproportionate share and uncompensated care payments.

3:55 p.m. – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson today announced that HUD will allocate $22,689,802 in COVID-19 relief funding to help low-income Americans in Texas who live in public housing. Austin Housing Authority will receive $66,623 of the allotted money. 

2:20 p.m. – The University Interscholastic League Legislative Council approved a proposal that adjusts requirements related to preparticipation physical examinations for the 2020-2021 school year. To view the proposal, click here.

1:43 p.m. – Walmart has temporarily stopped processing in-store returns or exchanges of food, paper goods, home cleaning supplies, laundry soap, pharmacy items, health and beauty items and apparel. Online returns can still be done on the store's website or app. Additionally, the return period is being extended by 6 weeks for these items.

1:30 p.m. Gillespie County has reported its third confirmed case.

12:30 p.m. – Williamson County announces its 10th coronavirus death. So far, a total of 306 cases have been reported with 179 recoveries.

RELATED: LIST: Confirmed Central Texas coronavirus cases by county

12:04 p.m. – Fifteen local nonprofits have been selected to receive nearly $690,000 in grant funding from the Stand with Austin Fund. The fund was created by Austin Community Foundation in partnership with the Entrepreneurs Foundation to help individuals and small businesses most negatively impacted by the cancellation of SXSW. 

"In wake of the COVID-19 virus and its economic fallout, so many have stepped forward to help,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler, said.

The list of nonprofits receiving grants and more information can be found here.

11:15 a.m. – The City of Wimberley issues a public health advisory to help citizens stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The advisory follows guidelines from the CDC, including wearing face coverings at all times in public, continuing social distancing and staying home as much as possible.

For more information, click here.

9:20 a.m. –  The City of Austin Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department (NHCD) announced they are giving $1.2 million in rental assistance to Austinites affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Relief of Emergency Needs for Tenants (RENT) program will distribute one-time rental subsidies through a lottery system. Residents must apply for the lottery through HACA’s RENT website here starting on May 4 and ending May 6. For more information, click here.

WATCH: Timeline: Gov. Greg Abbott's plan to reopen Texas amid COVID-19 pandemic


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