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Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: Hays County adds 22 deaths due to a newly enhanced reporting system

Here are the latest COVID-19 updates, closures and postponements in Central Texas for Friday, Oct. 23.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This blog is no longer being updated.

KVUE is keeping you updated with the latest coronavirus and COVID-19 news in the Austin area.

Scroll down for the top headlines and latest updates in KVUE's Oct. 23 live blog.

COVID-19 numbers:

  • Texas: More than 845,100 cases have been reported in the state, and more than 17,200 people in Texas have died, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
  • Central Texas counties: 
    • Travis County: At least 31,411 cases have been reported and at least 448 people have died. At least 30,113 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Hays County: At least 6,287 confirmed cases have been reported and at least 86 people have died. At least 5,691 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Williamson County: At least 9,335 cases have been reported in the county and at least 150 people have died. At least 8,993 people have recovered from the virus.

Updates:

6 p.m. – Cases in the Austin metro area are up 4% from a week ago, while testing is down 13%. The positivity rate average is at 2.8%.

Hospital admissions in the Austin area are at 21.9 per day over the past week. There have been 825 deaths from COVID-19 in the KVUE Central Texas 12-county viewing area since the start of the pandemic.

5:50 p.m. – Travis County is now reporting a total of 31,411 cases, 30,113 recoveries and 448 deaths.

5:30 p.m. – Williamson County is now reporting a total of 9,335 cases, 8,993 recoveries and 150 deaths.

5 p.m. – Due to a new reporting system implemented by the Texas Department of State Health Services, Hays County officials announced 22 new COVID-19 fatalities today. The spike is due to enhanced reporting protocols from hospitals, funeral homes, nursing homes and other providers.

The department also reports 19 new lab-confirmed cases, three new hospitalizations, three hospitalization discharges and 46 additional people now considered recovered.

4:40 p.m. – Texas recorded 5,760 new confirmed cases on Friday, bringing the total to 851,572. The weekly average is up 10% from a week ago and the highest it's been since Aug. 28. The state reported 89 new deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total to 17,375.

There are 5,065 COVID-19 patients in the hospital statewide – the most since Aug. 23 and up 19% from a week ago. The state's positivity rate average is at 9.14%.

1:40 p.m. – Austin Public Health announces that it has launched a COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Coalition comprised of local health care and community partners. The coalition will assist APH in developing strategies to reach the desired level of COVID-19 vaccination coverage for our community once a vaccine is readily available.

Coalitions within local jurisdictions have been identified by the federal government as a best practice and are key to successful rapid vaccine distribution planning.

“Slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Austin-Travis County has been a community effort since the beginning,” said APH Director Stephanie Hayden. “Planning for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine will once again require many stakeholders and a community effort to be successful. We still have a long road ahead of us, but the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Coalition marks the beginning of a new chapter in our response.”

The CDC published a COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations, which includes information about COVID-19 vaccination program planning and implementation considerations and guidance.

Because supply is expected to be limited at the beginning of vaccine distribution, doses may need to be prioritized for critical populations such as critical infrastructure workers, people at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness, people at increased risk of acquiring or transmitting COVID-19, and people with limited access to routine vaccination services.

“As a community, we need to recognize that even when a vaccine becomes available, initially it will not be widely available for the general public,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority. “We will need to prioritize our most vulnerable and ensure equitable distribution across our community.”


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