Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: Austin Public Health resumes COVID-19 operations after winter weather storm


Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: Austin Public Health resumes COVID-19 operations after winter weather storm

Here are the latest COVID-19 updates, closures and postponements in Central Texas for Sunday, Feb. 21.

AUSTIN, Texas — KVUE is keeping you updated with the latest coronavirus and COVID-19 news in the Austin area.

Scroll down for the top headlines and latest updates in KVUE’s Feb. 21 live blog.

  • Texas: More than 2.2 million cases have been reported in the state, and more than 41,200 people in Texas have died, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
  • Central Texas counties: 
    • Travis County: At least 73,538 cases have been reported and at least 710 people have died. At least 69,460 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Hays County: At least 15,837 confirmed cases have been reported and at least 202 people have died. At least 14,238 people have recovered from the virus. 
    • Williamson County: At least 34,527 cases have been reported in the county and at least 362 people have died. At least 33,250 people have recovered from the virus.

For a look at COVID-19 data across all of the state’s counties, click here.

2:47 p.m. – After more than a week of severe winter weather that suspended City operations at testing and vaccination sites, Austin Public Health announced Sunday it resumed COVID-19 operations. 

Here’s an update on how APH plans to get back up to speed on multiple fronts:

COVID-19 Vaccine Update

APH said rescheduling for vaccine appointments was underway for the estimated 3,300 patients who had appointments canceled starting on Feb. 13. If you had an appointment, APH said to check your phone and email frequently for updates.

APH said phone banks were also affected by power outages and will be back online to call those without internet access. APH also said there are plans for a queuing system, but at the moment to address the backlog, staff will manually schedule each person and provide them with a time, date and location.  

APH said it will extend hours to serve as many people as possible with the vaccine it has allocated. APH has approximately 7,000 first doses and 7,500 second doses remaining from the Feb. 7 state allocation before the winter storm.

Second doses will be prioritized to ensure they are administered as close to the 28-day recommended interval. However, the CDC’s updated recommendations state there is no maximum time between the first and second doses for either vaccine.  

“It will require an immense amount of staff time, work, and effort to resume all of our operations to the full capacity and efficiency that we were seeing before the weather hit,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority. “We appreciate the community’s understanding and patience as we work through any bumps along the way.”

COVID-19 Testing Update

Before the severe winter weather storm, APH said it was testing 10,000 people per week. All APH-affiliated testing operations will resume their normal schedules on Monday, Feb. 22. To schedule a test through APH, visit www.austintexas.gov/covid-testinfo.  

Neighborhood testing, which allows for some walk-ups, is available at the following locations:

  • Ana Lark Center (1400 Tillery St.): Tuesdays and Fridays 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  
  • Southeast Branch Library (5803 Nuckols Crossing Rd.): Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Wednesdays 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

“We have already provided 55,000 doses and were in the midst of scaling up operations for second doses when the winter storm hit,” said Cassandra DeLeon, Chief Administrative Officer for the APH Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division. “We lost eight days of operations, but we are fully dedicated to those who need their second doses and are scaling up resources as much as possible to provide all remaining vaccine this week.”

COVID-19 Statistics for Austin 

APH said that data reporting efforts, which feeds the City’s COVID-19 dashboard would also resume. APH said that its data entry staff was unable to safely travel to the location to provide data input this past week. 

Due to the lack of testing that has been able to happen over the past week and a lag in data reporting, the data that is publicly reported over the coming week may be skewed, APH said. 

“We know that there may be a high demand for testing once our sites can reopen and data will show that not a lot of people were tested over the past week,” said APH Chief Epidemiologist Janet Pichette. “When staff can safely return, they will continue their reporting. They will have to work overtime to eliminate the backlog but they are dedicated to giving the public the data they need to make proper decisions for themselves and their loved ones.”

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