Coronavirus in Austin: 2 cases of COVID-19 confirmed

AUSTIN, Texas — Two presumptive positive coronavirus cases in Austin-Travis County have been confirmed by Austin Public Health (APH) early Friday morning.

The City of Austin said both cases are not believed to be community spread. This means the illness did not come from an infected person that they came in contact with, health officials said.

“This is concerning but not surprising and we have been prepared for the arrival of COVID-19 in our area,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County Interim Medical Authority. “It is critical that the community continue to heed our recommendations and take personal hygiene seriously. This will be the key to ensuring that this virus doesn’t spread.”

According to APH, Austin-Travis County is now in Phase 3 of its five-phase plan as followed:

Phase 1: Persons Under Monitoring
Phase 2: Persons Under Investigation (Testing in Progress)
Phase 3: Confirmed Case (No Person-to-Person spread)
Phase 4: Limited Person-to-Person Spread (Close/Household Contacts)
Phase 5: Person-to-Person Spread in the Community 

On Thursday, the City extended the local disaster declaration over coronavirus concerns through April 5. The declaration clears the way for overtime pay for public health employees and opens funding for additional resources if needed, such as 24-hour operations.

Austin Public Health leaders are working to “enhance community preparedness” and are evaluating additional protections for the community.

“At this time, we have not made any additional changes to current regulations around mass gatherings or other public health standards but will keep the public updated if this information changes,” the City of Austin said.

APH said the public is encouraged to limit the spread of the disease by following these practices:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Stay home when you are sick. 
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash. 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

Mayor Steve Adler, Judge Sarah Eckhardt, Dr. Escott and Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden, will provide updates during a 6 a.m. press conference. The press conference will be live-streamed on KVUE’s social platforms and online.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

WATCH: Coronavirus Q&A: Doctor joins KVUE to talk facts, prevention and self care


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