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Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: Travis County surpasses 2,000 cases

Here are the latest COVID-19 updates, closures and postponements in Central Texas for Thursday, May 7.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This blog is no longer active. For the latest updates, check out our new live blog here.

KVUE is keeping you updated with the latest coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, news in the Austin area.

Scroll down for the top headlines and latest updates in KVUE's May 7 live blog.

COVID-19 Numbers:

  • Texas: There are more than 34,000 cases in the state, and more than 900 people in Texas have died. 
  • Central Texas Counties: 
    • Travis County: More than 1,900 cases have been reported and at least 57 people have died.
    • Williamson County: More than 340 cases have been reported and at least 12 people have died.
    • Hays County: There have been more than 190 cases reported in the county and at least one person has died.

Top Headlines:

Updates:

6:15 p.m. – Travis County health officials are now reporting 2,002 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 59 COVID-19 related deaths as of May 7.

Officials are also reporting there are 91 COVID-19 hospitalizations with 32 of them in the intensive care unit and 17 of them on ventilators.

5:25 p.m. – Travis County Civil and Family Courts have issued a second amended COVID-19 emergency order, suspending in-person hearings until June 29, with all jury trials suspended until at least Aug. 17. The only exception will be essential hearings as determined by a judge.

The courts said most hearings after June 29 will still proceed remotely, at the discretion of the judges.

5 p.m. – Hays County reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total to 199. Of those, 76 remain active, with 122 recoveries now reported.

The county has had one COVID-19 death, a woman in her 80s who had been living with a relative in Buda.

As of May 7, the Hays County Local Health Department has received 1,819 negative test results. According to the county, there have been 20 total hospitalizations, with six still hospitalized as of May 7.

4:10 p.m. – Around $3.9 million in federal funding will go to Austin-area health centers to expand COVID-19 testing efforts. The funding from the Department of Health and Human Services includes $377,089 for the People's Community Clinic in Austin, $1,840,954 for the Travis County Healthcare District, $1,502,404 for the Lone Star Circle of Care in Georgetown and $192,724 for Tejas Health Care.

4 p.m. – The Austin Animal Center will begin offering adoption of dogs to the general public with appointment-only curbside meet-and-greets beginning on Friday.

The shelter facility is closed to the public until at least May 29, with only certain services offered through safe social distancing.

The city said adopters will be able to view dogs on the Austin Animal Center website, choose up to two dogs to meet and then contact ASOAnimalAdoptions@austintexas.gov to schedule an appointment.

Upon arrival at their appointment, adopters will have time to meet and play with their chosen pups and decide whether to move forward with adoption.

RELATED: Austin Animal Center closing amid COVID-19, asking for foster volunteers

Based upon recent observations and data collection related to park usage over the past two weeks, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department will make the following operational adjustments:

  • Beginning Friday, May 8, PARD will monitor park capacity at Emma Long Metropolitan Park, Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park, and Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park. Once capacity is reached at these parks, signage will indicate no additional vehicles will be admitted. Staff will be on-site to educate park patrons and inform them of closures.
  • Starting Thursday, May 14, park patrons will be required to obtain day passes for Emma Long Metropolitan Park, Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park, and Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park via an online registration system or make a reservation by phone from Thursday through Sunday. A limited number of passes will be available per day. No entry will be granted without a pass. Regular entry fees apply for Emma Long and Walter E. Long parks. Vehicle access to Commons Ford entry remains free; however, a day pass will be required. No registration is required Monday through Wednesday.

3:30 p.m. – North Austin movie theater Lake Creek 7 will be reopening after Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order allowed cinemas to operate at 25% capacity.

The Southwest Theaters location, which has been closed due to the pandemic, will open its doors on May 8.

“In accordance with Governor Abbott’s executive order GA-18 we are following and or exceeding the minimum recommended health protocols for movie theaters,” Lake Creek 7 said on its website. “We are also following the CDC’s recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting and the FDA’s recommendations for retail food stores and restaurants along with many other resources.”

The theater's listings include "Trolls World Tour," "Pretty in Pink" and indie film "The Burnt Orange Heresy."

Lake Creek 7 follows the reopening of Evo Entertainment in Kyle.

3 p.m. - The Austin City Council has approved a resolution to create a slow streets initiative called "Healthy Streets." The initiative will temporarily create safe, outdoor spaces for people to walk, bike, push strollers and travel in wheelchairs in while social distancing requirements are in effect.

The City is now seeking public input. 

For more information, click here.

RELATED: Austin groups push for 'Slow Streets' program identifying safe streets for exercise

The council also approved Items 57 and 58, a budget amendment and resolution providing up to $2.2 million through the CARES Act to provide about 50,000 daily meals for caregivers facing food insecurity. School staff will start serving meals to caregivers of students through the end of June at Austin ISD and Del Valle ISD meal distribution sites.

The resolution also directs the city manager to continue working with Travis County other local school districts to explore partnerships for expanding food access to vulnerable families during the pandemic. The initiative also seeks to partner with local businesses.

In addition, the council passed Item 22, a multi-departmental community resilience plan that prepares the City to help Austinites survive catastrophic events with a focus on addressing economic, social and racial disparities.

RELATED: Austin City Council passes community resilience plan

The council also voted unanimously to allocate additional resources as support for nursing homes. The resolution, drafted by Council Member Ann Kitchen, District 5, provides increased testing, protective equipment, staffing and support for nursing home staff. 

It also approves the City to partner with Dell Medical School to come up with best practices to improve nursing home care moving forward. The City does not know how much the resources will cost, but a price estimate is expected on May 21. The money for these resources will come from city funds, but Austin leaders will seek reimbursement from the state and federal governments.

RELATED: 'We can't wait' | Austin funds help for local nursing homes

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr asking him to investigate the potential of beef industry price-fixing involving meatpackers across the nation. The letter asks Barr to probe beef pricing processes in the U.S. beef industry with a goal of protecting Texas farmers and ranchers.

RELATED: COVID-19 could have a billion-dollar impact on the cattle industry

“Texas farmers and ranchers, our nation’s largest beef producers, are facing financial devastation due to low live beef prices when retail prices of beef are at an all-time high,” Miller said. “Something is wrong, and it has nothing to do with the COVID-19 virus. I want to get to the bottom of it.”

Miller also sent a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday asking him to join a growing list of Attorneys General from western states in petitioning Barr to investigate this issue on a federal level.

The letter to General Barr can be read here

The letter to General Paxton can be read here

1 p.m. - Williamson County announces 11 new cases. Total stands at 352 with 205 recoveries now reported. Deaths remain at 12.

11:20 a.m. - The Central Texas Food Bank will be distributing food and hygiene products to families in need at Del Valle High School from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday.

11 a.m. With the help of the National Guard, Williamson County announces a new mobile testing site in Taylor.

Starting at 7 a.m. on Friday, May 8, Williamson County residents experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can call 512-883-2400 or visit www.txcovidtest.org to be screened and to make an appointment. The mobile testing location is at the Taylor Regional Park, located at 210 Carlos G. Parker Blvd. You will need to make an appointment before arriving.

RELATED: Here's when, where Central Texas Food Bank will distribute emergency food kits

10 a.m. - Gov. Greg Abbott announced he modified his executive orders to eliminate jail time as a punishment for violating COVID-19 orders. Abbott released the following statement:

“Throwing Texans in jail who have had their businesses shut down through no fault of their own is nonsensical, and I will not allow it to happen,” said Governor Abbott. “That is why I am modifying my executive orders to ensure confinement is not a punishment for violating an order. This order is retroactive to April 2nd, supersedes local orders and if correctly applied should free Shelley Luther. It may also ensure that other Texans like Ana Isabel Castro-Garcia and Brenda Stephanie Mata who were arrested in Laredo, should not be subject to confinement. As some county judges advocate for releasing hardened criminals from jail to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is absurd to have these business owners take their place.”

9:20 a.m. The Family Independence Initiative announces that it has dispersed nearly $2 million from the City of Austin Equity Office to financially support 1,000 families.

 The national nonprofit was given the money as part of the $15 million Relief in a State of Emergency (RISE) Fund approved by Austin City Council. Eligible households received one-time financial support of $2,000 through the initiative's technology platform, UpTogether, which deposited the money directly into their bank or other accounts. 

“The current crisis facing the nation and our community is unprecedented. The twin disasters of the pandemic along with the economic crash have upended the lives of so many families,” said City of Austin Equity Officer Brion Oaks. “We were eager to partner with FII because they have nearly a 20-year record in providing direct cash assistance to families. We needed a partner that understood the sense of urgency to mobilize quickly, and believed in the power of people to make the best financial decisions for their families during this crisis.”

6:10 a.m. - Gov. Abbott will meet with President Donald Trump at the White House today to discuss handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click here to see what they discussed.

WATCH: Raw: Gov. Abbott announces salons can reopen Friday

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