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Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: Travis County reports 4 more deaths from COVID-19

Here are the latest COVID-19 updates, closures and postponements in Central Texas for Friday, Dec. 18.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This blog is no longer being updated. Click here for Saturday's blog.

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 Dec. 18 live blog.

COVID-19 numbers:

  • Texas: More than 1.3 million cases have been reported in the state, and more than 23,900 people in Texas have died, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
  • Central Texas counties: 
    • Travis County: At least 44,796 cases have been reported and at least 516 people have died. At least 40,236 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Hays County: At least 8,759 confirmed cases have been reported and at least 119 people have died. At least 7,378 people have recovered from the virus.
    • Williamson County: At least 17,220 cases have been reported in the county and at least 187 people have died. At least 15,868 people have recovered from the virus.

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


6 p.m. – Travis County reported four more deaths from COVID-19 on Friday along with 415 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 44,796 cases and 516 deaths since the pandemic began. At least 40,236 people have recovered from the virus.

Travis County currently has 332 people hospitalized with COVID-19, with 92 in the ICU and 54 on ventilators.

5:55 p.m. – The seven-day case average for the Austin metro area is at 755 new cases per day over the past seven days – the second highest rate after an average of 759 on July 4. There have now been more than 1,000 deaths from the pandemic in the 12-county KVUE viewing area, with the death toll at 1,011.

The positivity rate average for the Austin metro area is at 7.41%.

5:30 p.m. – Currently, the 2,473 staffed beds within all three Central Texas health care systems – Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health and St. David's HealthCare – are 82% occupied, and the 483 ICU beds are 80% occupied.

5:10 p.m. – Hays County reported three more deaths from COVID-19 on Friday – a Kyle woman in her 90s, a San Marcos man in his 60s and a San Marcos woman in her 60s. Health officials also reported 71 new confirmed cases, seven new hospitalizations and three new hospital discharges, along with 63 people now considered recovered.

5 p.m. – Williamson County reported another death from COVID-19 on Friday along with 234 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 17,220 cases and 187 deaths since the pandemic began. At least 15,868 people have recovered from the virus.

4:40 p.m. – The Texas Department of State Health Services has revealed its list of providers that will receive COVID-19 vaccine doses in the second week of distribution. The state is expected to receive 620,000 doses next week, to be distributed to 1,100 providers in 185 Texas counties. The Central Texas region will receive more than 30,000 of those doses.

Credit: KVUE

RELATED: Texas anticipates receiving 620,000 vaccine doses in second week of distribution

4:35 p.m. – Texas reported 12,192 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the total to 1,384,476. The seven-day average is at 12,419 new cases per day over the past week – up 11% from a week ago and up 50% from a month ago. There were 294 new deaths from COVID-19 reported statewide on Friday, bringing the death toll to 24,954.

Texas currently has 9,709 COVID-19 patients in hospitals statewide – the most since July 27 and up 22% from a month ago. The state's positivity rate average is at 14.36%.

4 p.m. – Austin Public Health (APH) said COVID-19 key risk indicators are "trending poorly" heading into the weekend. On Thursday, the seven-day moving average of hospital admissions hit 50.

"Unfortunately, the key indicators for risk stage changes, including the seven-day moving average of hospitalizations, number of patients in the ICU, ventilator use, positivity rate and seven-day moving average of cases are all trending upward," APH said in a statement. 

The trends in the month of December are cause for concern and could cause the community to move into its Stage 5 response, APH said.

"Throughout this pandemic, Austin-Travis County kept our COVID-19 numbers comparatively low not by accident or luck, but through community engagement and action," APH said. "Once again, the actions we take in the coming days and weeks can either move us in the right direction or in the direction of a deadly surge like those we have seen across Texas."

Holiday safety tips based on guidelines from experts at the CDC can be found on the City of Austin's website.

3:50 p.m. – Ascension Seton has administered its first COVID-19 vaccines to frontline caregivers at four hospitals in the Austin area, including Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin, Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas at Austin, Dell Children’s Medical Center and Ascension Seton Hays. 

“Caregivers continue to lead by example, and I encourage everyone in the communities we serve to get vaccinated when it’s made available to you,” said Dr. Nicholas Steinour, emergency department medical director at Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin. “In particular, we know that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted high-risk, marginalized individuals and people of color, and it’s important that we do everything possible to demonstrate that the approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and work to ensure all people ultimately have access to them.” 

3:30 p.m. – On Friday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Andy Brown announced they had extended eviction protections to Feb. 1, 2021.

“We know the efforts taken by the City of Austin and Travis County to protect tenants from eviction during this pandemic are working to keep our community more safe,” said Brown. “In the next few weeks, many Travis County families will be celebrating holidays, a vaccine will become available for our community, and at the same time increasing COVID cases continue to be a challenge. Now is not the time to roll back these important protections. We must continue to make the health and safety of our community our number one priority.”

Adler said data shows the actions taken to prevent evictions have "saved many lives" during the COVID-19 pandemic.

RELATED: Eviction protections in Austin, Travis County extended to February 2021

WATCH: Nearly 250,00 COVID-19 vaccine doses distributed across Texas 


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