City, county extend mostly unenforced 'Stay Home-Work Safe' orders amid concern over second surge in COVID cases
Local elected officials extended Stay Home-Work Safe orders, with modifications to comply with Gov. Greg Abbott's statewide orders, in an effort to prevent a second surge of COVID-19 cases and an overwhelmed health care system.
"COVID-19 is not done with us," Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said at a virtual press conference earlier today.
The extended orders prohibit social gatherings and limits outings to essential activities and visits to reopened businesses They also recommend that residents wear face masks while in public, although Abbott has prohibited municipalities from enforcing facial coverings with civil or criminal penalties.
The city order is in effect through the end of the month, and the county order through June 15.
"I think what is most remarkable about these new orders is that there's not much remarkable about the new orders," Austin Mayor Steve Adler said at the same event. But he added that he felt the extensions were still valuable, despite their unenforceability, if only to encourage Austin residents to wear masks while in public.
Eckhardt echoed the need for these extensions.
"Nothing much is different about our orders that we put in place today, but things are very different in our community today," she said.
When she and Adler issued their initial stay-home orders, in mid-March, there were about 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Travis County, fewer than 10 hospitalizations and no deaths. There are now 2,002 confirmed cases and 91 hospitalized patients. Fifty-nine people have died.
Local health authorities have raised concerns—backed by modeling and other data—that reopening the state economy will lead to a second surge in cases as in-person interactions increase. If a surge emerges, there may be no other option but to reenter a lockdown, Adler said.
In the meantime, the city and county have expanded testing capacity and ramped up contact tracing efforts. Adler said there is currently enough capacity to meet the demand for testing, and he encouraged residents with any symptoms to use the city's public testing enrollment form to sign up for a test.
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Read the full story at The Austin Bulldog.
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