Nearly six months after a state of disaster was first declared in Bastrop County, emergency deputy director Christine Files had good news for the commissioners’ court on Monday during the latest of her regular COVID-19 updates.
“We are continuing to see a slowing down of the number of new cases and an increase in the number of recoveries,” Files said. “These are really good numbers, and we need to keep that going.”
Last Tuesday, September 8, the Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) announced that they would begin releasing their weekly updates on Tuesdays instead of Fridays, since Tuesday is the start of the operational period in the Emergency Operations Center. For this week’s update, visit @BastropCountyOEM on Facebook or visit www.elgincourier.com.
According to last week’s update, the county’s community testing sites completed 141 tests during the operational period from Tuesday, September 1 to Monday, September 7. Among tests conducted at the county’s sites, the positivity rate was 4.88% during this operational period. During Monday’s update, Files said the statewide positivity rate was down to 6.63%, while Bastrop County’s positivity rate is at 3.37%.
The testing at the community sites is now done with oral or nasal swabs, and tests are available Monday through Friday. To check eligibility for a COVID-19 test at one of the community testing sites, visit www.bastropcountycovid19.org or call 512- 972-5560 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Tests are being conducted at the Ascension Seton Health Center in Elgin and at the St. David’s Emergency Center in Bastrop; the site at Mayfest Park has been closed. Files added that the contract with Acadian Ambulance will not be picked up again until the county’s testing numbers go back up.
The county has ordered three rapid point-of-care antigen testing machines that can provide results in about 15 minutes, Files said, which would help quickly identify hotspots.
Files said she expects an uptick in cases in the coming weeks as schools reintroduce in-person learning and sports practices resume, but the recent news has been very encouraging.
“We need to continue to wear our masks, and we need to continue to encourage others to wear their masks,” she said. “I know some folks don’t want to believe it, but (wearing masks) really has been what has kept these numbers way down. We need to encourage folks who are sick to stay home. These are the ways we will be able to continue to protect our elderly and vulnerable populations, keep our schools open and allow our businesses to open further.”
COVID-19 cases: 148 active, 1,515 recovered
As of Monday afternoon, Bastrop County has confirmed a total of 1,691 positive cases of COVID-19, according to the county’s dashboard.
So far, 1,515 people have recovered from the illness in Bastrop County, leaving 148 active cases.
At the same time last week, the county’s total number of cases was 1,638, with 1,462 recoveries and 149 active cases.
Another death due to COVID-19 has occurred among Bastrop County residents, bringing the county’s total fatalities to 28.
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 199 cases.
The City of Austin 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 90 inpatients in the region’s hospitals, with 37 patients in the intensive care units (ICU) and 23 ventilators in use.
Last week, 124 people were in the hospital as inpatients due to COVID-19, 42 patients were in the ICU and 28 ventilators were in use.
In May, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began gathering and reporting data from nursing homes about the number of confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 in residents and staff. As of Monday, data was available through the week ending on August 30 at data. cms.gov.
Since August 2, the Elgin Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has reported no new COVID-19 cases or deaths among residents or staff members. A total of 36 residents and 17 staff members have been confirmed with COVID-19 over the 15 weeks of data reported so far, and six residents have died due to the virus.
In early September, Elgin ISD launched a school district dashboard of daily reported COVID-19 cases by campus, found online at www. elginisd.net/Page/6358. As of Monday afternoon, one staff member at Elgin Elementary School has tested positive for COVID-19, as reported on September 2.