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County outlines school restrictions for fall

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    This graph shows the daily number of COVID-19 cases since late April. Image courtesy of Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management
  • Article Image Alt Text
    As of Friday morning, 1,277 cases have been reported in Bastrop County. Due to a change in reporting fatalities by the Texas Department of State Health Services, Bastrop County has now reported a total of 17 COVID-19 fatalities. View the dashboard at www.co.bastrop.tx.us/page/em.coronavirus.

Bastrop County officials have released an order with guidelines and restrictions for the safe reopening this fall of schools within the county.

Last Tuesday, Dr. Desmar Walkes, the local health authority for Bastrop County, and Paul Pape, the county judge and director of emergency management, released an order outlining controls and restrictions for in-person school campus instruction for all independent school districts operating in Bastrop County.

The order requires school systems to implement in-person instruction in four stages; moving to the next stage would be based on data from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) that shows a decrease in the ratio of positive cases to those tested in Bastrop County on a series of metric dates. The first metric date will be August 4, with three more scheduled metric dates until October 6 and more metric dates ongoing each three weeks as needed. The scheduled metric dates fall two weeks ahead of a stage change.

Stage one restrictions are in effect until September 7, disallowing in-person classes and requiring students and teachers to engage in virtual classes, activities and events.

Stage two restrictions allows up to 50 percent of on-campus student capacity with smaller in-person classes, activities and events. Groups of students must stay together and stay with the same teacher when possible. Students must also remain at least six feet apart whenever possible and cannot share objects.

Stage three restriction allows up to 75 percent of on-campus student capacity with larger in-person classes, activities and events.

Stage four restrictions allow 100 percent of on-campus student capacity with full-sized in-person classes, activities and events. Students do not have to be spaced apart, may share classroom materials or supplies, and may mix between classes and activities. Health and safety practices are still encouraged.

COVID-19 cases: 521 active, 652 recovered

As of Monday afternoon, Bastrop County has confirmed a total of 1,195 positive cases of COVID-19, according to the county’s dashboard. So far, 652 people have recovered from the illness in Bastrop County, leaving 521 active cases.

At the same time last week, the county’s total number of cases was 1,029, with 420 recoveries. Twelve people have died from the virus.

At the end of last week, the types of information available on the county’s COVID-19 dashboard has changed. On the new dashboard, there are only four numbers: confirmed positive cases, active cases, recoveries and deaths. According to the Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) weekly update posted to its Facebook page on Friday, the number of recoveries increased substantially on July 21 because the dashboard began using the estimated number of recoveries on the DSHS dashboard.

Confirmed positive cases are people whose active COVID-19 infection has been verified with a COVID-19 molecular test, with either a nasal or mouth swab. Active cases are individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 but have not recovered or died, not including probable cases or cases that (DSHS) has lost contact with; probable cases are not, and have never been, included in the total case numbers, the OEM post said. Recoveries is an estimate based on assumptions related to hospitalization rates and recovery times; this number does not include any cases reported prior to March 24. Deaths include people who have died with a COVID-19 infection.

Last week, 289 tests for COVID-19 were performed at the Bastrop County Community Test Site, according to the OEM weekly update. Of the 1,040 total tests performed at this site since July 7, 131 have come back positive.

Because the county is receiving incomplete information about the number of cases found in each zip code, as well as data about the ages and sexes of the cases, the dashboard will no longer feature that information.

According to the City of Austin’s COVID-19 dashboard, found at www. austintexas.gov/covid19, the portion of the 78621 zip code in Travis County has reported 159 cases.

Austin’s dashboard also includes information about hospitalized patients in the five-county Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), in addition to the case numbers for Austin and Travis County. The MSA includes Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson County.

As of Monday afternoon, the MSA has 396 inpatients in the region’s hospitals, with 145 patients in the intensive care units (ICU) and 101 ventilators in use.

Last week, 480 people were in the hospital as inpatients due to COVID-19, 158 patients were in the ICU and 110 ventilators were in use.

As of Monday, data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regarding cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes was available through the week ending on July 12 at data. cms.gov.

At that time, Elgin Nursing and Rehabilitation Center reported one additional resident and one additional staff member had tested positive for COVID-19. A total of 36 residents and 13 staff members have been confirmed with COVID-19 over the eight weeks of data reported so far. One more resident has died due to the virus, the data shows, bringing the total of COVID-19 fatalities at the facility to five.