Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: Travis County reports new single-day case record

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Here are the latest COVID-19 updates, closures and postponements in Central Texas for Thursday, Jan. 7.

COVID-19 numbers:

  • Texas: More than 1.6 million cases have been reported in the state, and more than 28,200 people in Texas have died, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
  • Central Texas counties: 
    • Travis County: At least 54,814 cases have been reported and at least 565 people have died. At least 48,633 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Hays County: At least 11,335 confirmed cases have been reported and at least 137 people have died. At least 9,500 people have recovered from the virus. 
    • Williamson County: At least 22,836 cases have been reported in the county and at least 214 people have died. At least 20,659 people have recovered from the virus.

For a look at COVID-19 data across all of the state's counties, click here.

Updates:

6:25 p.m. – The Austin metro area has had an average of 1,015 new COVID-19 cases per day over the past week. The positivity rate average is at 10.58%. COVID-19 hospital admissions in the Austin area are up to 85.8 per day over the past week. There have now been 1,171 deaths from COVID-19 in the 12-county Central Texas KVUE viewing area.

Texas has now administered 40% of its distributed vaccine doses with just under 14,000 people now fully vaccinated. Another 513,554 have had one dose.

6:15 p.m. – Travis County reported another death from COVID-19 on Thursday along with 879 new confirmed cases, the highest single-day case count since the pandemic began.

Travis County currently has 573 people hospitalized with COVID-19, with 164 in the ICU and 103 on ventilators.

5:15 p.m. – One youth development coach at the Giddings State School tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday afternoon, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department said.

5 p.m. – Hays County reported 44 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Thursday, four new hospitalizations and three new hospital discharges. There were no additional people considered recovered.

3:35 p.m. – Texas reported 19,598 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 1,666,487 since the pandemic began. The seven-day average is 16,079 per day, which is a new record and is up 35% from a week ago. 

2:55 p.m. – Williamson County announces that if local COVID-19 trends continue, certain businesses will be required to decrease their occupancy levels.

This is due to Gov. Greg Abbott's Executive Order GA-32, which states that when the local Trauma Service Area (TSA) reaches a high hospitalization rate, any business establishment that was allowed to operate at 75% occupancy would be required to rollback to 50%. 

A high rate is defined as seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of the total hospital capacity exceeds 15%. TSO Region O's rate surpassed 15% on Sunday, and has increased since then.

“It has never been more crucial for us as a community to reduce the spread of this virus,” said Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell.  

12 p.m. – Marking the first case for Texas, a more contagious variant of COVID-19 that was first seen in the U.K. has now been discovered in Harris County.

11:50 a.m. – Texas Health and Human Services and the Texas Department of State Health Services announced that, next week, Texas will be directing most of the COVID-19 vaccine received from the federal government to large providers who can vaccinate a total of 100,000 or more people.

These providers will be asked to vaccinate health care workers, people who are 65 or older, and those with medical conditions that increase their risk of severe disease or death. They will also be asked to provide a registration phone number and website, focusing on areas and populations hardest hit by the virus.

9:55 a.m. – The Travis County Medical Society, representing 4,000 Austin doctors, has issued a call for qualified members willing to work temporarily as inpatient physicians because of a "surge of COVID patients that has stressed our inpatient medical care."

"We are seeking internal medicine, family physicians and qualified specialists who feel comfortable with hospital care," a letter says. "The expectation would be rounding on 10 to 12 patients a day." 

9:51 a.m. – Thirty-seven members of the Texas House of Representatives have joined Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D-Travis County) in calling on Gov. Greg Abbott and DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt to "improve the COVID-19 vaccination distribution process."

In her letter, Rep. Goodwin implores Gov. Abbott and Dr. Hellerstedt to address the confusion and frustration experienced by many Texans in the face of conflicting and unclear information regarding the COVID-19 vaccination rollout. Rep. Goodwin and the other members have urged Gov. Abbott and Dr. Hellerstedt to prioritize vaccinations to people whose occupations preclude them from working from home and to ensure that communities of color whose residents have suffered disproportionately from COVID-19 have equal access to the vaccines. The letter also requests that information regarding the vaccination plan be shared more transparently with the legislature and the public.

"Texans should be celebrating the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccination but instead are frustrated that information from DSHS and the Governor's office conflicts with their own conversations with vaccine providers when trying to make appointments" said Rep. Goodwin. "Texans are relying on our state leaders to provide them with the information they need to receive this life-saving vaccine, and we must be able to trust that this information is timely and accurate. As COVID-19 cases surge in Texas, it is crucial that we are able to vaccinate our population efficiently and effectively."

9:41 a.m. – Austin Regional Clinic said it ran 5,600 COVID-19 tests last week, and among the tests administered by ARC, the positivity rate was 19.9%. ARC said vaccines will be administered as quickly as they are received.

9:16 a.m. – Starting on Jan. 7, CommUnityCare Health Centers will begin vaccinating a prioritized group of its patients who are 65 and older and those with at least one chronic medical condition, those eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine under Phase 1B guidance provided by the State and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CommUnityCare said it has temporarily reopened its Rosewood-Zaragosa Health Center in East Austin as a COVID-19 vaccine site seeing patients by appointment only. CommUnityCare also said it is scheduling a small number of its patients qualified under Phase 1B to receive the vaccine; however, the total number of patients eligible under this phase far exceeds the number of vaccine doses received by CommUnityCare to date.

“CommUnityCare is eager to get more vaccines,” Jaeson Fournier, CommUnityCare CEO said. “Just like with our COVID-19 testing, PPE and flu shot distribution, CommUnityCare is focused on serving its patients and supporting access to the coronavirus vaccine for Travis County’s most vulnerable residents. We want to get our patients and most vulnerable residents vaccinated as quickly as possible. Following state and federal guidelines, we started by vaccinating our health care workforce and are now expanding our COVID-19 vaccination efforts to include our patients qualified under Phase 1B.”