Austin-Travis County provides update on response to COVID-19

The City of Austin has provided an update on Austin-Travis County's response to COVID-19. 

The numbers continue to rise.

Sitting at 58 confirmed cases as of Mar. 20, Austin officials are hoping the community can abide by orders from the mayor.

“Right now we have evidence of community spread. That means that our success in battling and defending this community against this virus depends on every single person in the community,” said Dr. Mark Escott, interim health authority at Austin Public Health.

Since COVID-19 arrived in Austin, bars have shut down, restaurants have been restricted to carry-out and delivery only. Businesses all over town are closing for six weeks...all in an effort to protect the vulnerable, and flatten the curve, in other words, alleviate the stress on the healthcare system.

“This disease is not an equal opportunity killer. For young people we expect the vast majority will have a mild illness. The big risk is sharing it with older people and those at risk of serious complications,” said Escott.

Referencing the mayor's orders from earlier this week, Escott urges people to not throw large parties at home.

“We've asked our law enforcement partners, our code enforcement, fire marshals to pay close attention to these gatherings,” said Escott.

Earlier in the week, the city got 1000 test kits to be used at drive-through sites. Escott is expecting more kits.

“This does not mean we have the capacity to test everybody who wants to get tested at this stage. We have to prioritize those who are at higher risk, those who are hospitalized, healthcare workers and first responders. As we increase testing our detection is going to increase. I would expect over the next week or so we are going to see significant increases,” said Escott.

The health authority said some of the confirmed cases have been in public spaces. At this critical point in time, he hopes the community will take heed.

“We all have to be strong together so we can achieve this goal of flattening the curve,” said Escott.

The city is opening up community testing sites over the weekend. If you find yourself sick, first call your doctor. If you do not have a primary care physician, you can utilize the telehealth system from the city:

RELATED:, FOX launches national hub for COVID-19 news and updates

On Thursday, March 19, Abbott has issued a public health disaster for the state of Texas. Abbott explained during a press conference that the executive orders will bring the entire state of Texas in line with CDC guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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.

The first U.S. case of COVID-19 was reported in a man in Washington state in January, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 35-year-old man, who has not been identified, sought treatment at an urgent care center after returning from Wuhan, China, according to FOX 13 in Seattle. 

He was treated at the Everett Providence Regional Medical Center in Washington and made a full recovery, officials said.

Texas Governor Abbott said in a press conference on Thursday, March 19 that he has been coordinating the state’s response to the coronavirus since the first confirmed case in the United States. Starting on January 24, the Texas Department of State Health Services began having daily calls with public health authorities, school districts, and county officials across the Lone Star State. 

On February 15, it was reported that hundreds of Americans who were quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked off the coast of Yokohama, Japan, due to a coronavirus outbreak onboard would be evacuated to the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas for another two weeks of quarantine.

The first Texan who tested positive for COVID-19, that was not part of the Americans quarantined on a cruise ship, was on Wednesday, March 4. A week later, Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster for Texas.


FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. Every weekday we're live at 1 p.m. with a special show reporting the latest news, prevention tips and treatment information.

You can watch live in your FOX 7 Austin app or on the FOX 7 Austin Facebook page.

You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at