Austin Public Health begins weekly updates again as COVID cases rise

Austin Public Health is starting up its weekly COVID news conferences again as cases and hospitalizations have increased due to the Delta variant.

The news conference is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. and will be streamed on FOX 7 Austin's website, the FOX 7 Austin YouTube channel, and the FOX 7 Austin Facebook page.

Expected to speak at the news conference are Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority, Adrienne Sturrup, Interim APH Director, Janet Pichette, APH Chief Epidemiologist, and Cassandra Deleon, APH Chief Administrative Officer for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Health officials are concerned as more hospitals across Texas are reporting a shortage of ICU beds than at any other time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state 18 months ago. 

The latest surge of the virus has also caused new cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations to rise with record speed to just below their January peaks, as the highly contagious delta variant rips through the unvaccinated community at a rate up to eight times faster than earlier strains, officials said.

There's also continued debate about masks mandates in schools. 

The Texas Supreme Court just dismissed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Gov. Greg Abbott’s request that it disallow mask mandates in Texas school districts — albeit on a technicality.

In the past two weeks, Abbott and Paxton have sought to stem the tide of cities, counties and school districts challenging the governor’s pandemic executive order and putting their own mask mandates in place. 



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