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COVID-19 Info

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

The District would like to remind everyone to keep calm.  We will get through this.  We will recover.  For more information, please see below.

The health of Austin and Travis County residents and visitors is our highest priority. Our public health officials are taking appropriate actions to ensure the health and safety of our community. Austin-Travis County leaders have declared a “local state of disaster” to more proactively increase preventative measures in the region.

We continue to monitor and re-evaluate the situation daily and our health officials are prepared to respond as needed. We are in constant communication with other professionals in cities, counties, and states across the country, evaluating information and practices from around the world. If local public health officials report any change in their assessment or recommendations, immediate action will be taken.

There are confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Austin-Travis County area. We continue to test individuals in accordance with CDC guidelines.

The confirmation of these cases has elevated the Austin Public Health (APH) response to Phase 5 of our five-phase plan, adapted from our pandemic flu plans. While Austin-Travis County DOES NOT have confirmation that we are in Phase 5 due to community spread, we should act as if we have knowledge that we are in Phase 5.

Austin Public Health is working in collaboration with the Dell Medical School and local healthcare systems to rapidly increase the availability of testing, including locations for drive-through testing. We are finalizing those plans and hope to have that capability in place shortly.

The City of Austin and Travis County continue to evaluate additional protections for the community based on these positive cases. While we have no confirmation of person to person or community spread in the Austin Travis County area, out of an abundance of caution, we are taking actions as if that is the case.

At this time, the Austin-Travis County Health Authority has issued a series of control orders which requires nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other long-term care facilities, and the healthcare system to take a range of immediate actions to enhance protections against the spread of COVID-19. Measures include but are not limited to screening visitors, staff, and patients prior to entry, additional signage, access to hand sanitizer, and additional reporting requirements to Austin Public Health.

Austin-Travis County has closed bars and suspended dine-in service at restaurants until May 15th under new Orders aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Under the new Orders, food establishments are ordered to close common dining areas open to the public and encouraged to provide take-away, delivery or drive-thru, to limit exposure between individuals. Meanwhile, bars are ordered to close common bar spaces open to the public and are prohibited from allowing consumption on premises.

Additionally, Community gatherings of 10 people or more in a single room or other confined indoor or outdoor space are prohibited, due to “the substantial risks to the public”. However, a number of “critical facilities” are exempt from the Orders. They include but are not limited to government buildings providing essential services, schools or colleges, grocery stores and pharmacies, transit and transit facilities, the airport and airport operations, and hospitals and medical facilities. In these places “social distancing” and frequent cleaning is strongly encouraged.

More information regarding this order may be found here: http://www.austintexas.gov/…/covid-19-information-businesse… orhttps://traviscountytx.gov/images/docs/200314-gathering-order.pdf.

Travis County has modified its operations and some public services are suspended. This includes some closures of County Facilities, modified services, and potential impacts to public meetings. This is being done to maintain the health and safety of County employees and the community at large while providing critical County services.

If people feel unwell they should contact their health care provider before going to a clinic, urgent care or emergency department, to prevent any potential spread. We have created a section of the website to specifically provide information for people that are sick: http://www.austintexas.gov/…/covid-19-information-those-who…. Central Health-funded CommUnityCare Health Centers Tuesday launched a hotline staffed with medical professionals to triage uninsured Travis County residents experiencing a coronavirus-like symptoms (COVID-19). People experiencing COVID-19 symptoms who are uninsured and do not have an established doctor can call the COVID-19 Hotline at 512-978-8775 for guidance..

Everyone can help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including flu and COVID-19. Critical advice has been issued for people in Austin-Travis County who are aware they have had contact with an individual with COVID-19. The elderly, immunocompromised, and those with underlying health issues are at a higher risk of severe symptoms for COVID-19. For specific actions you can personally take to protect yourself, your family, and the community, please visit https://traviscountytx.gov/…/1945-novel-coronavirus-covid-1… www.austintexas.gov/covid19.