AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This live blog is no longer active. For the latest COVID-19 news on Wednesday, check out our new live blog.
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 March 24 live blog.
- Travis, Williamson counties expected to issue shelter-in-place order on Tuesday
- Austin City Council to vote on 60-day grace period for rent payment during COVID-19 outbreak
- LIST: Confirmed Central Texas coronavirus cases by county
- Negotiators close on a nearly $2 trillion virus aid package
- Texas orders postponement of medical procedures that are not 'immediately necessary'
- Austin coronavirus cases reach 86
- How to help: Website helps you navigate nonprofits in your area
- Gov. Greg Abbott: Statewide shelter in place 'not appropriate' at this time
10:30 p.m. – Austin ISD announces schools will remain closed through Monday, April 13, in response to the City of Austin and Travis County's "stay home" order.
AISD said staff and families should prepare for schools to be closed for a longer period of time.
9:55 p.m. – Manor ISD confirms that one MISD staff member has tested positive for coronavirus.
MISD said the individual, who works at Manor High School, was diagnosed on Tuesday, March 24. The individual visited the MHS campus on Monday, unaware that they had contracted the virus. MHS has been closed to the public since March 13 and only MISD staff with special permission has been allowed on campus since then.
MISD said, unaware that this individual had contracted the virus, the janitorial staff went into the empty building and disinfected the areas the person occupied, as per MISD protocols. MISD said the individual did not have physical contact with the janitorial staff or any other staff while on the MHS campus. The two janitors who cleaned the area will be self-monitoring at home for 14 days as a precaution.
8:15 p.m. – The City of San Marcos announces the closure of all riverfront parks, effective at 11 p.m. March 24.
Parks affected include Rio Vista, City Park, Plaza Park, Veramendi, Bicentennial, 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. To view a map of all San Marcos river parks, click here.
The City said violation of the park closures could result in trespassing charges if a person refuses to leave after receiving a warning. Other green spaces in the City remain open but visitors are reminded to practice social distancing.
7 p.m – The City of Austin is now reporting 98 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
The age ranges of these cases include:
- 0-9 – 1
- 10-19 – 1
- 20-29 – 27
- 30-39 – 26
- 40-49 – 15
- 50-59 – 14
- 60-69 – 10
- 70-79 – 3
- 80 and over – 1
6 p.m. – Gov. Greg Abbott directs the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to issue guidance allowing restaurants to sell bulk retail products from restaurant supply chain distributors straight to consumers, given that such foods are in their original condition, packaging, or presented as received by the restaurant. Restaurants will be able to sell items like packaged meat, fruit and vegetables, and dry goods directly to the public.
This will allow distributors and restaurants to provide another source of food outside of grocery stores and prepared food from restaurants. These bulk food items will be available for purchase through restaurants offering drive-thru, delivery, pick-up and curbside service.
5:30 p.m. – Hays County announces changes to help limit coronavirus exposure in the county jail by limiting its jail population.
To achieve this goal, members of the Hays County Adult Community Supervision Department are screening the jail roster to identify arrestees who may pose relatively lesser degrees of risk to the community for the District Judges to review and consider for potential release if the individual's case cannot be resolved reasonably quickly.
5 p.m. – Woodcreek, a Hays County community of around 2,000 people, issues "stay in, stay safe" order.
According to the city attorney, Woodcreek's mayor issued the order due to the demographic of the people who live there. The 2010 census found that about one-third of the Woodcreek population is 65 years old or older.
4:40 p.m. – The City of Taylor is closing the skate park, pavilions, playscapes, volleyball/basketball/tennis court areas and restrooms in city parks effective at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24 in response to Williamson County's "Stay Safe, Stay Home" order, officials said. County officials told KVUE city hike and bike trails, park open spaces, sidewalks and running track will remain open for active use within the current permitted constraints of social and physical distancing in accordance with the county order.
4:30 p.m. – Hays County confirms its number of coronavirus cases have grown by two, bringing total to nine.
4:20 p.m. – Capital Metro officials said that on Monday, March 23, they were notified that a CapMetro employee self-reported a diagnosis of coronavirus. The employee does not have a public-facing role and is recovering at home, the company said. The organization did not receive any official documentation of a positive test or diagnosis, according to CapMetro.
4 p.m. – The Austin Trail Foundation recommended Austinites to stay off the Butler Hike-and-Bike trail and exercise as close to home as possible. The trail foundation acknowledged it does not have authority to close the trail, but urged everyone to honor Mayor Adler’s guideline of reducing social interaction by 90% for the safety of the community.
3:55 p.m – The City of Taylor announces the skate park, pavilions, playscapes, sports court areas and restrooms in City parks will be closed effective at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, in response to Williamson County's "Stay Safe, Stay Home" order.
City hike and bike trails, park open spaces, sidewalks and the running track will remain open within the current permitted constraints of social distancing in accordance with the order.
3:40 p.m. – The City of Buda announces the following policies and procedures are in place:
- All sports fields, bathrooms, playscapes, basketball courts, skatepark and facility reservations are closed until further notice.
- All special events are canceled or postponed until further notice.
- Trails and green spaces will remain open unless otherwise directed by federal, state or local authorities. Residents should respect social distancing while using these.
- Water fountains will not be available for use.
- The opening of Green Meadows Splash Pad will be delayed.
2:45 p.m. – The Texas governor announced March 24 that 715 Texans have been diagnosed with coronavirus, and 11,000 people have been tested. Eleven people in Texas have died from the virus.
He issued two executive orders.
One, which was already implemented, requires that surgeries and procedures that are not medically necessary be postponed.
Hospitals across Texas must submit daily reports on hospital bed capacity to the state, the second executive order outlined. All health providers must also submit daily reports of COVID-19 tests.
You can watch the governor's press conference on KVUE's YouTube page:
2:15 p.m. – Austin Community College (ACC) is preparing personal protective equipment (PPE) kits for local health care workers. As most ACC classes are moving online starting on March 30, PPE materials that were reserved for class labs are now in surplus at the college. Read more.
2 p.m. – Gov. Greg Abbott is scheduled to hold a press conference regarding the state's response to the coronavirus at 2:30 p.m. CDT.
12 p.m. – Williamson County coronavirus case count grows to 19. It has also issued a stay-at-home order.
11:20 a.m. – Llano County officials confirmed to KVUE Tuesday it had its first case of coronavirus. The patient is a male in his 60s who resides in the Horseshoe Bay area, according to county officials. They said his case is travel-related and the man self-quarantined immediately upon returning from his trip and remains in quarantine at this time. Llano County is now in Phase 3 (no person-to-person spread) of its phased approach, officials said.
10:45 a.m. – Mayor Steve Adler announced a stay-at-home order for the City of Austin on Tuesday. It will go into effect at midnight on March 24. The order suspends business not deemed essential. For context on what will remain open, the government considers hospitals, pharmacies, veterinary care and blood banks to be essential businesses. Critical infrastructure will also continue, which includes public transportation, airport operations, water, sewer, gas and construction. Retail options to remain open include restaurants with take-out or drive-thru, grocery stores, gas stations and hardware stores. Here's a breakdown of what will stay open during the order.
Across metropolitan Austin, new YMCA virtual communities are springing up after the recent call by local, county and state authorities to close facilities and limit gatherings to under 10 people, the organization said. YMCA exercise instructors are leading Facebook Live classes for groups of 100 or more at a time. YMCA youth leaders are conducting virtual story times, sports clinics and crafting activities for families. Senior groups are organizing “socials” using free teleconferencing services, while YMCA staff members are calling those older adults who are shut in and isolated just to talk and ensure their well-being. Meanwhile, Y members are streaming literally thousands of pre-recorded exercise classes in an effort to keep active and relieve the stress and anxiety that comes from an unprecedented situation like that posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
10:30 a.m. – Bastrop County announced it would open a public-restricted testing center at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Officials said patients must have a written referral from a medical healthcare provider in order to visit the site. County officials answered a few frequently asked questions in this tweet:
10 a.m. – Taylor City Council voted unanimously at a special meeting March 23 to extend its disaster declaration. The councilmembers also agreed to postpone the May 2 General and Special Elections to the Nov. 3 uniform election date.
6:30 a.m. – The mayor of Cedar Park has issued an order to close all public, semi-public and homeowner-association-operated places that fall under the following categories:
- Playground equipment
- Splash pads
- Exercise equipment
- Drinking water fountains
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