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Coronavirus updates in Central Texas: Mayor Adler responds to Gov. Abbott's plan to reopen salons, gyms

Here are the latest COVID-19 updates, closures and postponements in Central Texas for Tuesday, May 5.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This blog is no longer active.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 5 live blog.

COVID-19 Numbers:

  • Texas: There are more than 32,000 cases in the state, which increased by more than 2,300 over the weekend, and more than 880 people in Texas have died. 
  • Central Texas Counties: 
    • Travis County: More than 1,800 cases have been reported and at least 53 people have died.
    • Williamson County: More than 320 cases have been reported and at least 10 people have died.
    • Hays County: There have been more than 170 cases reported in the county and at least one person has died.

Top Headlines:

Updates:

10:30 p.m. – Austin restaurant Home Slice Pizza said it closed its North Loop location after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. The employee last worked on Sunday, May 3, and is currently quarantined and receiving care, the restaurant said.

"In response, Home Slice North Loop will be temporarily closed while a professional sanitation crew deep cleans and disinfects the restaurant," Home Slice Pizza said on Facebook. "Following the preventative guidance of the CDC and local health officials, the store will reopen with the same diligent cleaning and safety protocols that were previously in place including no-contact curbside service and mandatory use of masks and gloves."

The restaurant said no other staff members are experiencing symptoms and all workers at that location will be tested for the virus.

7 p.m. – Mayor Steve Adler went on Facebook Live to give his response to Gov. Abbott's plan to reopen salons and gyms.

6:20 p.m. – On Tuesday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler issued a statement in response to Gov. Greg Abbott's plan to reopen hair salons, nail salons, tanning salons and gyms in Texas.

"Relying on science and data means the governor should be waiting the necessary three to four weeks to count increased infections and hospitalizations before layering on more risk," Adler. "The more allowed physical interactions, the less likely the governor will avoid scaling back to stop a deadly surge."

The mayor urged Austinites to make wise personal choices.

"It’s dangerous for many to consider going to a barber, a salon or a gym," he said. "It’s most dangerous for the barber and the stylist and you cannot sufficiently protect them. Note that the governor emphasizes six-foot distancing, no groups larger than a few outside your household and the need for face coverings."

6:10 p.m. – Bastrop County is reporting nine new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total in the county to 98. Thirty people have recovered from the virus, while two people have died.

5:56 p.m. – As of May 5, Austin-Travis County is reporting 1,876 cases of COVID-19, with 58 deaths. A total of 579 have recovered.

These cases have risen steadily since March 13, when the first two cases were reported. Since then, multiple drive-thru testing sites have opened in the area.

For an age breakdown of those cases, see the Austin-Travis County online dashboard.

5:50 p.m. – Gov. Greg Abbott announces that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has received approval for a $3 million emergency grant for Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living. ADRCs offer resources for older adults, people with disabilities, and caregivers in Texas.

"I am grateful for our continued collaboration with our federal partners to expand access to these crucial resources for older adults and Texans with disabilities," said Gov. Abbott. "As we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain committed to ensuring these important aging and disability services are available in communities across the Lone Star State."

For more information, click here.

5:30 p.m. – After Austin Public Health revealed 335 residents and staff at nursing homes and long-term care facilities have been infected with the coronavirus – leading to more than half of all reported COVID-19 deaths in Travis County – Austin City Council is calling for immediate action.

A resolution will be introduced at the council's meeting on Thursday that sets target dates and directs the city manager to prevent further spread through the following actions:

  • Immediate testing of all staff and residents at all facilities with clusters
  • Testing of all staff at all facilities as soon as possible
  • Deploying “Strike Teams” to enhance staff resources at all facilities with clusters
  • Providing for incentives and funding for hiring and retaining facility staff
  • Ensuring all facilities have sufficient PPE and testing equipment
  • Collaborating with the Dell Medical School to identify preventive strategies to protect residents in vulnerable facilities
  • Providing ongoing updates to the council on results and status of actions
  • Identifying any additional actions/funding needed to prevent

The resolution directs the city manager to act immediately and use funding and other resources now and seek reimbursement from appropriate state or federal agencies at a later date.

5:10 p.m. – Hays County is reporting seven new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total in the county to 183. Of those, 67 are active cases and at least 115 people have recovered from the virus.

In total 18 people have been hospitalized from COVID-19 in Hays County, with seven still in the hospital. The county has had one death from coronavirus, a woman in her 80s.

3 p.m. – Sprouts Farmers Market announces it has expanded grocery pickup to its locations in Austin, San Antonio and Lubbock.

Starting today, customers can shop online and pick up items without having to enter the store. Orders can be made for same-day pick-up or be scheduled in advance.

2:48 p.m. - During a press conference Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that barbershops and salons may reopen May 8 under certain restrictions. On May 18, gyms may reopen under restrictions.

Gov. Abbott gave an update on the coronavirus pandemic in the state. Here's a breakdown of some numbers:

  • More than 427,000 Texans have been tested for COVID-19
  • 33,369 Texans have tested positive for COVID-19 and there are currently 15,672 active cases across the state
  • More than 1,880 people in Texas have been hospitalized
  • 906 people in Texas have died from the coronavirus
  • 16,791 Texans have recovered from the coronavirus 

You can watch the full press conference on KVUE's YouTube page:

Editor's note: The report from the governor's office below contains an error. KVUE learned May 6 the number of new cases on April 20 was 535 not 553. Therefore the positivity rate on April 20 is not 7.2%, but 6.96%

2 p.m. – Williamson County announces that it is the recipient of $93,382,340.10, provided through the CARES Act, which is assisting states and local governments impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The federal government has decided that the local governments are the most knowledgeable and best prepared to decide how to disperse this money. This is a large amount of money; however I would much rather that local officials make the decision on how to use this money than to leave that decision to Washington,” said Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell. 

Click here for more information.

Williamson County also announced its Wilco Forward Program, which is aiming to provide grants for local business owners that have been impacted by the pandemic.

The program was developed by a strike team that includes County Treasurer Scott Heselmeyer, Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey, and Precinct 4 Commissioner Russ Boles.

“Our team worked with business and community leaders from across Williamson County to develop the Wilco Forward grant program,” said Scott Heselmeyer. “We specifically made the application process as simple as possible to encourage businesses to apply.”

$25 million from the CARES Act funds will be used to launch the program. Small businesses with fewer than 100 employees and sole proprietors can receive up to $30,000.

For more information, click here.

1:40 p.m. – The Taylor Public Library announces it will start offering curbside pickup of library materials starting Wednesday. The service will be offered Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The library asks the public to place reserves through their library account online or by calling the library at 512-352-3434. Residents will need their library card numbers when calling in. There will be a limit of five items per home, and some checkout limits will apply. No new library cards are being issued at this time

"Library staff will pull reserved items and check them out to the patron’s library account," the library said in a press release. "If items are not available, staff will contact the patron for more options. To pick up reserved items, staff will make an appointment for patrons to come and pick up library materials. Patrons picking up items will need to describe their vehicle to staff. Patrons can pull up in front of the library entrance during the scheduled appointment time and staff will bring items out. The library asks that patrons stay in their vehicle, unlock the trunk or back door, and staff will put items in and close the trunk or door."

The library asks patrons to use the outside book drop to return all materials. These will be cleaned and quarantined before re-shelving.

12:30 p.m. – The San Marcos City Council is asking for public commentary on amendments to its 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan to incorporate the new $425,261 Community Development Block Grant for Coronavirus (CDBG-CV).

The amendments would add grant funding of $425,261 to the plan as a source of funding for potential programs. The plan is ongoing and will transition into the next consolidated plan (2020-2024) starting in September.

The proposed amendments would also add a category dubbed “Economic Development” to the list of existing programs that can be funded. The existing categories are Public Services, Affordable Housing, Public Facilities/Infrastructure/Transportation, or Clearance Activities.

Citizens who would like to speak during the public hearing portion of the virtual meeting must email citizencomment@sanmarcostx.gov prior to 12 p.m. on Tuesday, May 19.

To view the meeting, please visit http://sanmarcostx.gov/421/City-Council-Videos-Archives. The City Council will vote on the amendments on June 2.

The Moody Foundation has announced it is committing another $500,000 in grants to Central Texas partners across Austin, Georgetown, Round Rock Fredericksburg, San Marcos and Marfa to support first responder assistance.

“The effects from COVID-19 are far-reaching and will have long-term impacts beyond what we can even imagine,” said Ross Moody, trustee of the Moody Foundation. “Now, more than ever, is the time to step up. The Moody Foundation will continue working with our local partners as we move towards rebuilding our community together.”

The funds will support the following organizations in providing services, including food, shelter, PPE, computers, rent assistance, employment, education, and physical and mental health resources.

  • Any Baby Can
  • Ascension Texas Relief Fund
  • Austin Diaper Bank
  • Austin Paramedic Relief and Community Outreach Fund
  • Baylor Scott & White Central Texas Foundation
  • Boys and Girls Club of the Austin Area
  • Brighter Bites
  • Fredericksburg Food Pantry, Inc.
  • Friends of Marfa Library
  • Hays County Food Bank
  • Hill Country Memorial Hospital Foundation
  • Hope Austin
  • Project Transitions/Doug’s House
  • Round Rock Area Serving Center
  • The Caring Place
  • The Other Ones
  • Vincare Services of Austin Foundation/dba Saint Louise House
  • Young Men's Christian Assoc. of Austin

In March, the foundation announced an initial $1,000,000 commitment, now totaling $1,500,000.

12:15 p.m. – Williamson County reported its eleventh COVID-19 death from the coronavirus pandemic. The resident was a male in his 50s.

"It is crippling to get the news that the Coronavirus has claimed the life of another one of our residents. We stand with those who have lost a loved one to this deadly disease. It is in memory of those who have passed that we should make it a point to follow proper hygiene, consider wearing a face-covering, and try to minimize our exposure to those that are part of our vulnerable community,” said Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell.

196 people have recovered from COVID–19 in Williamson County as of May 5.

11:45 a.m. – The Texas Health and Human Services Commission announces the Austin State Supported Living Center will be hosting a virtual job fair in hopes of filling 200 positions at the facility.

The event will be streamed on Facebook Live on Thursday at 10 a.m.

Available positions and applications are posted here.

9:50 a.m. – One nursing home facility in Austin has reported a total of 15 deaths. That's up from 12 reported deaths last week at that facility, according to KVUE's Tony Plohetski.

A second nursing home facility in Austin has reported six deaths, 40 positive COVID-19 cases among residents and 28 positive cases among staff members, Plohetski confirmed.

The names of those facilities have not been released.

6 a.m. – Gov. Abbott is expected to hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday to give an update on what Texas is doing to fight COVID-19.

Check back on this live blog for the latest updates Tuesday.

 WATCH: Austin Mayor gives COVID-19 updates on KVUE Daybreak

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