Austin-Travis County marks six months since first COVID-19 case
AUSTIN, Texas - Sunday marked six months since Austin-Travis County recorded its first COVID-19 case.
From the date the first case was recorded on March 13, to September 10, 402 people died. 1,797 people were hospitalized and 27,424 people tested positive for the virus.
Countless businesses have closed, like Austin icon Dart Bowl. "If there's a small independent local business that you value, support them these days because there's a lot that are hurting." Dart Bowl co-owner, John Donovan told FOX 7 Austin in July.
RELATED: Austin's iconic Dart Bowl to permanently close on Friday after 62 years
The same month the virus was detected in the area, Austin’s largest festival, SXSW was canceled.
“When we first began talking about COVID-19 and we made the difficult decisions to close down SXSW and declare it a disaster. There were a lot of unknowns at that stage,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Health Authority for Austin Public Health.
RELATED: SXSW canceled for 2020 due to coronavirus
Personal protective equipment, or PPE, was among those “unknowns” according to Cassandra DeLeon, assistant director of PPE and community resilience for Austin Public Health.
“We didn’t know how our supply chain for personal protective equipment was gonna hold up. But, what we saw was all of our businesses stepping up, and willing to reinvent their industry,” said DeLeon.
The Still Austin Whiskey Company was one of those businesses that pivoted. They used their distillery to produce large quantities of hand sanitizer.
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“I've seen so many good things happening even during this whole crisis. We're really happy to be able to help a little bit.” said co-founder Chris Seals.
Many facilities have undergone transformations to help with covid response efforts. The city’s convention center was converted into a field hospital. It has not been used. An old Home Depot became Austin Public Health’s main testing site.
Late last month, the area's risk-based guidelines were downgraded from stage four to stage three, as COVID related data dipped downward following a great spike in July. The highest number of new cases reported in a single day in July was 753. Sunday, there were 123 reported.
RELATED: Health officials recommend Travis County moves to stage three
“This disease is not gone yet, it's gonna be with us for sometime until we can get a vaccine which is widely available to the public. So, we've gotta stay the course, we've gotta continue these great efforts and if we can do that together we can keep our schools open, we can keep our businesses open and we can start to return to a life that starts to look more normal than it has been over the past six months,” said Escott.
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