Travis County adults of all ages are testing positive for COVID-19, but it is largely those over 70 who are dying—nearly two-thirds of the total as of May 1.
As of yesterday evening, Travis County had reported 58 COVID-19 deaths. Demographic data is available only as of May 1, when there were 51 reported deaths. Of those, eight were of people ages 60-69, 10 were ages 70-79 and 24—or nearly 50%—were 80 years or older. Yesterday, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott told Austin City Council that 30 of the deaths thus far have been of residents and staff at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Racial disparities in Austin COVID-19 deaths have also emerged, as they have across the U.S.
The proportion of white and black residents who have died of the disease is greater than their share of the local population. Hispanics, who make up 34% of the county, account for 26% of the deaths, but they are overrepresented when it comes to hospitalizations, Dr. Escott told Austin City Council on Tuesday.
But so far Austin has avoided overwhelming its health care system, and it has not seen a sharp increase in at-home deaths as a result of the pandemic.
The Austin Public Health Office of Vital Records registered a total of 819 death certificates between March 1 and April 20, an increase of 43 deaths from the same period last year.
With businesses reopening, however, local officials warn of a second surge in COVID-19 cases. Updated modeling, released last week, predicts cases will peak in June and lead to, conservatively, 6,500 deaths. More than half are expected to be from causes other than COVID-19 as a result of people avoiding hospitals—local emergency rooms are already reporting precipitous drops in admissions.
Dr. Mark Hayward, a sociology professor at UT-Austin, said sifting through these factors—on the one hand COVID-19, and on the other, people avoiding care for fear of contracting it—can make it difficult to compile an accurate pandemic death toll.
Lack of testing is another challenge, since it means we will most likely never have an accurate idea of the total number of cases. For example, Dr. Mark Escott has said the county caseload is likely seven to eight times the number of confirmed cases.
"First of all, we undercount the cases," Dr. Hayward said. "And then … we always undercount the deaths."
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The University of Texas-Austin continued its march toward a new normal on Friday, as university President Gregory Fenves marked his last day of leadership after five years in office—the final two months of it dominated by sweeping pandemic-era changes on campus.
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Protests over police killings planned for Austin this weekend following widespread demonstrations across U.S.
At least two protests are planned in Austin this weekend over the recent killings of black men by police: Mike Ramos, who was fatally shot by an Austin Police Department officer on April 24 in Southeast Austin, and George Floyd, who died in police custody on Monday after a Minneapolis Police Department officer knelt on his neck. Both events were filmed.
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As Texas navigates reopening restaurants and bars safely, al fresco spots provide the perfect place for long-quarantined Austin residents. Some of these favorites are open only on the patio, others are allowing customers to eat to-go orders in the space, and a few are full service—the details are subject to change. This is not an all-inclusive list, but here they are, in no particular order:
Upscale seafood fare is served under striped umbrellas on the tree-lined porch, with dogs allowed and an unfettered view of South Congress foot traffic.
Address: 1400 S. Congress Ave.
- Reopening today: the zoo (masks required), water parks (advanced tickets required), driver's license offices (appointments required).
- As protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis spread to cities around the county, a demonstration drawing attention to both Floyd and Mike Ramos is planned for Austin this weekend.
- With local businesses concerned they can't make a profit at limited capacity, the city council may soon allow the use of sidewalks and parking lots to increase it, CBS Austin reports.
- KUT notes that, ultimately, it's up to voters to decide who votes by mail.
- Aaron Franklin will be inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame, writes Daniel Vaughn at Texas Monthly, just as his restaurant faces its biggest challenge yet.
'This has dwarfed anything else we've seen': Nonprofits adapt to soaring need, fewer volunteers and a fundraising slump
Since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Austin, the Central Texas Food Bank has seen a tenfold increase in food costs.
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