Austin COVID-19 Update: EMS employee tests positive, only three cases in Travis County are hospitalized

Austin officials held a virtual press conference this afternoon to provide the public with the latest information about the COVID-19 coronavirus in our area.

Chief of Austin/Travis County EMS Ernesto Rodriguez and Deputy Medical Director for the City of Austin and Travis County Dr. Jason Pickett answered questions from the media.

A few highlights:

  • Chief Rodriguez said that an EMS employee has tested positive for COVID-19. He says that they are working to determine who that employee came in contact with.
  • When asked about essential businesses, Dr. Pickett says the determination was made that if businesses are critical for city infrastructure and critical for people's daily lives (like grocery stores) then they could stay open. He urged people to contact the Austin Health Department if they need clarification.
  • Dr. Pickett says of the cases in Travis County, only three are in the hospital. The rest are at their homes.

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The update comes a day after Travis and Williamson Counties issued a stay-at-home order, telling people to stay home unless they absolutely have to leave for essential reasons. 

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All essential businesses like grocery stores, banks, mail services can remain open for use.

“Everything not essential we are going to put aside for right now to help as many people stay home as much as they can be home,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. 

Since the outbreak,  Gov. Greg Abbott issued a public health disaster, the first in Texas since 1901.

The executive orders, which took effect at midnight Friday, March 20 will go through midnight Friday, April 3. The order brings the state in line with CDC guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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The public health disaster orders schools to be closed statewide until at least April 3. The disaster also orders a ban on dine-in eating and gathering in groups of more than 10 as the state ramps up efforts to battle the coronavirus. Abbott's order also will shut down gyms and bars. It also bans visits to nursing and retirement homes unless there is a critical need.


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