Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said during a virtual press conference earlier today that the form will make testing access more equitable across the city and also allow APH to better track test capacity, interest and results.
"We do expect a significant increase in those who sign up for testing because we're decreasing that barrier," Dr. Escott said.
The enrollment form will help APH focus its limited resources—such as test kits and personal protective equipment—and track where cases are clustering. While improved surveillance was touted as a benefit of this new system, Dr. Escott said the information collected from patients is confidential.
"We want people to be comfortable in sharing that information and signing up for testing," he said.
With more laboratories processing test kits and the rollout of rapid testing—expected to ramp up in the coming months—the new form system should increase access to tests and improve turnaround times, Dr. Escott said, adding that some people wait as long as 14 days to receive test results.
"It'll provide us better information—quicker information—which allows us to respond and isolate people quicker," he said.
The city's effort to flatten the curve appears to be working, Dr. Escott said. Yesterday, the number of cases in Travis County surpassed 1,000, but the doubling rate—or the amount of time it takes for the caseload to double—has slowed significantly, from two days last month to 10 days currently.
Area hospitals still have plenty of capacity to treat patients with COVID-19, Dr. Escott said.
As of last night, 79 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the five-county area, which includes Travis, Williamson, Bastrop, Caldwell and Hays. Of those, 39 patients are in intensive care and 30 are hooked up to ventilators.
Researchers at the University of Texas-Austin who have worked on modeling the spread of COVID-19 estimate that, in this five-county area, the total daily hospital capacity is 3,239 beds and the total daily ventilator capacity is 675 machines.
Dr. Escott indicated that this new system could help prepare for the reopening of local businesses.
"As we open the window to the economy again it's important for us to be able to continue to track folks effectively, to make sure that we're reaching out to them often to check on their status and that we know who they've had contact with," he said during the press conference. "This system … really helps cover all those bases to ensure that we do reopen the economy, gently, progressively, [and that] we do that safely."
On Monday, local elected officials extended the "Stay Home-Work Safe" orders through May 8.
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So you want to buy a house?
To anyone trying to get on the "housing ladder," it's been a discouraging couple of years as prices skyrocketed in a market crowded with buyers bidding against each other for just about any available home.
Things may be calming down, with the Austin Board of REALTORS reporting fewer sales and more available homes this summer.
Mortgage rates have more than doubled in the last year, from around 3% to well over 6% on a 30-year fixed rate loan, getting even more of a bump this week after the Federal Reserve raised bank rates on Wednesday.
So how affordable are homes right now? That, of course, depends on what you want and how much you're able or willing to pay, but here are some rough estimates of what a typical buyer would pay to buy a $650,000 home, which would be considered "mid-price" in today's market.
Mortgage banker Chris Holland (NMLS 211033) of Austin's Sente Mortgage ran some numbers for Austonia to illustrate a typical purchase.
Holland says that while the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is often mentioned in the media, the most popular loan that he's seeing now is a 7/1 adjustable rate mortgage, which has a fixed rate for 7 years and then adjusts every year based on market rates, with a limit on how much it can increase each year. The interest is amortized over a 30-year period. Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) offer lower rates than fixed rate loans.
Here are the numbers, which are examples. In practice, exact numbers vary with a buyer's credit rating and overall financial situation, and with the rate, which can move up or down at any time.
- $650,000 home purchase price
- 7/1 ARM at 5.875%
- 5% down payment, equals $32,500
- 95% financed, equals $617,500
- $4,990 payment, including principle and interest (P&I), insurance, and property tax
- Typically, a borrower's debt to income ratio needs to be at or below 45%. So for this mortgage, a borrower, or borrowers, would need income of roughly $11,100/month, or $133,200/year. That number could be higher, depending on the buyer's outstanding credit balances on things like credit cards and car loans.
Holland says he's had a lot of clients approved for loans who were house hunting but have put that on hold, hoping prices come down.
Camp Fimfo Waco, a brand new camping resort, is kicking off football and fall camping season in style! With top-notch amenities, premium accommodations, and 10 weekends of fall fun, there’s no better place to have a fall camping getaway, especially if you’re a Baylor football fan!
Fall promises to be a one-of-a-kind camping experience. From Sept. 16 to Nov. 24, weekends will be packed with fall-themed activities, including special Halloween weekends in October. Campers can enjoy activities like fall crafts, campground trick-or-treating, costume contests, site decorating, outdoor movie nights, and more!
Packages and Ways to Stay
Camp Fimfo Waco
Located just 5 miles from McLane Stadium, Camp Fimfo Waco is the perfect place to stay during home game weekends. Skip the stuffy hotel room and embrace the great outdoors before cheering on the Baylor Bears! Campers can purchase a Baylor Tailgating Package that includes a pre-game meal from Executive Chef Sean Kelley and transportation to and from the game! Chef Kelley will also be cooking up delicious, elevated tailgating meals near the stadium so make sure to check out The Plaid Plate food truck before the game.
Stay in style and comfort, no matter your camping preference! At Camp Fimfo Waco, there are multiple ways to stay. Red Carpet RV sites come with a concrete pad and patio, full hook-ups, cable hook-up, a charcoal grill, fire ring and fire pit. Back-in or pull-thru options are available, as well as coveted spots tucked along the Bosque River!
Don’t have an RV? Not a problem, Camp Fimfo Waco has cabins too! Book a Riverview Firewheel Cabin if you’re looking for an air-conditioned oasis for the whole family. Complete with a kitchen and private bathroom, this cabin can fit up to 10 people. Elevate your stay by adding on a golf cart or snag a private cabana by the pool for guaranteed shade. With wifi available throughout the park, you can stay connected during your stay!
Amenities and Activities
Camp Fimfo Waco
Camp Fimfo Waco features lots of amenities to fill your days with fun, whether you’re a kid or kid at heart. After challenging your friends to a game of pickleball, basketball, or mini golf, go for a dip in the resort-style, heated pool - open daily through October! Stay on the weekends through October to enjoy the interactive splash playground. With plenty of ways to burn off energy, like the jumping pillow or playground, you can be sure to end the day with a peaceful night around the campfire!
Right now, you can get the fourth night FREE when you book three nights with the promo code BONUS! Check out the Offers page for full details and more promo codes!