COVID-19 Live Updates: UT-Austin Will Test 5,000 People A Week & Cover Student Out-Of-Pocket Costs


Get live updates throughout the day on how COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, is affecting North Texas. 

» COVID-19 By The Numbers:

In Texas: More than 472,000 cases and more than 7,400 deaths have been reported. More than 306,000 Texans have recovered. In North Texas: Cases in Dallas County: 52,639; Tarrant County: 31,835; Collin County: 6,857; Denton County: 7,257. There have been at least 1,271 reported deaths in the region’s four largest counties.   Counties across Texas: Use The Texas Newsroom’s interactive maps.  Global: See Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 dashboard

UT-Austin Will Test 5,000 People A Week For Coronavirus And Cover Out-Of-Pocket Costs For Students

The University of Texas at Austin, one of Texas’ largest universities, will provide all students with tests at no charge and plans to proactively test 5,000 asymptomatic campus individuals a week in an effort to deter outbreaks.

This comes after the university earned the distinction from The New York Times as the leading U.S. college in the number of COVID-19 cases, which could be due to a lack of reporting from other schools. The University of Texas reported a total of 472 COVID-19 cases among students, faculty and staff as of Thursday. The university also found 22 positive cases in its proactive tests, with 823 coming back negative.

The proactive tests for asymptomatic individuals will be deployed by the university and will not be open for individual requests. The university plans to test all of its campus residence hall students by the beginning of September. It will continue to identify individuals or groups on campus strategically to test those at a higher risk of disease spread, as well as random testing. All testing will be voluntary.

Read the full story by The Texas Tribune

Company Running Dallas Testing Site Under Scrutiny

The company running a coronavirus testing site in Dallas co-funded by the city and county has come under scrutiny. 

Mayor Eric Johnson yesterday asked the city auditor to investigate Honu Management Group. Johnson wants to know how the Washington-based company won a $14 million contract to run the site launched at the University of Dallas last month. It has since moved to the Dallas College Eastfield Campus.

Johnson’s call for an investigation follows a Dallas Morning News report on potential red flags in the company’s track record.

It also comes after commissioners decided to withhold Dallas County’s share of the contract until officials determine if Honu’s fulfilling its obligations of providing test results within 72 hours of a lab receiving the specimen.

No response yet from Honu, but county-provided data showed more than 90% of the test results have been turned around within three days.

Dallas Art Fair Canceled This Year

The Dallas Art Fair has officially canceled this year’s edition.

The Dallas Morning News reports the event was postponed until October. However, director Kelly Cornell said the high number of COVID-19 cases in Texas made it too dangerous to move forward with the international fair.

Organizers expected a peak year, with 22 exhibitors scheduled to fly into North Texas from other countries.

Meanwhile, the fair’s newest venture called Culture Place has been a major success. The digital marketplace made $3 million in sales in just ten days. 

Tarrant’s New-Case Count Hits A New High, Deaths Top 400

A record-breaking 1,673 new cases raised the Tarrant total to 31,835. A county spokesperson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “This is not a spike,” adding that the surge in numbers came because the state now requires the reporting of probable cases.

The county’s total death count now stands at 404. All eight new deaths had underlying health conditions:

Two women in their 40s, one from Fort Worth and one from Sansom Park. A Haltom City man in his 50s. A Fort Worth woman in her 60s. A woman in her 70s and a man and woman in their 80s from Arlington. A Southlake woman in her 80s.

Dallas County Reports 508 New Cases, 4 Deaths 

Another 508 cases in the county brings the total to 52,639. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the death of a healthy man in his 40s is a “somber reminder” that the virus can cause death in people without pre-existing health conditions. He urged residents to continue wearing masks: 

“Today’s four deaths include an otherwise healthy man in his 40s who succumbed to COVID-19. This is a somber reminder that although COVID-19 statistically has a worse course on high-risk individuals, it can cause serious damage and even death to otherwise healthy individuals. We must all continue to wear our mask when outside the home and around other people. Please take your mask with you whenever you leave your home and have a mask available in your car and on your person.”

Four deaths were reported today: 

Two Dallas men in their 40s. A Dallas woman in her 60s. An Irving man in his 90s. 

130 New Cases In Denton County 

There are 130 additional cases in the county, raising the total to 7,257. There have been 145 people who have recovered from the virus, bringing the countywide recovery total to 4,186. 

124 New Cases In Collin County 

There are 124 additional cases in the area, bringing the total to 6,857. There have been 85 deaths and 4,983 people who have recovered from the virus in the county.

Gov. Abbott Talks PPE For School Reopenings In Fall 

On top of the pandemic, Governor Greg Abbott says flu season and schools reopening will soon put an even greater strain on the state’s personal protective equipment supplies.

In the meantime, Abbott says the state has already paid for and distributed PPE to schools in Texas, with more to come, free to local districts.

“The Texas Division of Emergency Management has provided Texas schools with more than 59 million masks, more than 24,000 thermometers, more than 565,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, and more than 500,000 face shields, and that’s just as of right now,” he said. 

Abbott also said President Trump’s extending federal funding for the Texas National Guard through the end of the year, so they can continue to help combat COVID-19.

American Airlines And Pilots Union Strike A Deal

American Airlines and its pilots union have reached a deal aimed at reducing job losses as fewer people fly during the pandemic.

The Dallas Morning News reports the deal calls for pilots to work every other month through next May — or take leave while receiving training so they could be rehired if travel demand recovers.

The Fort Worth-based carrier had previously offered early retirement to pilots and other employees.

But, Senior Vice President Kimball Stone yesterday said American still had more people than necessary to run the airline.

The deal’s the latest negotiated by airlines and their unions to limit or avoid job cuts in October when federal relief for airline labor costs and a ban on layoffs ended.

Dallas County Reports 641 New Cases, 31 Deaths

There are 641 new cases in the area, bringing the total to 52,131. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said today’s death count is a “somber reminder of the seriousness” of the virus. He urged residents to continue wearing masks and taking other precautions: 

“Today’s death total is a somber reminder of the seriousness of COVID-19 and the need for us to continue to wear masks, stay six feet apart, use good hand hygiene, and avoid any trips other than work, procuring essential items and outdoor exercise during this time of rapid spread.” 

He also encouraged residents to get tested: 

“Testing is available at many locations and most locations have little to no wait time. Testing result turnaround has improved so that most people are getting back their results within 48-72 hours. Testing does not count against the public charge rule nor is the fact that you got a test relayed to anyone outside of the small circle of health providers necessary for this public health response. Your information is covered by HIPPA and is private.” 

Thirty-one deaths have been reported today:

A Dallas man in his 20s. Two Dallas men in their 30s.  A Garland man in his 40s. A Grand Prairie man in his 50s. A Dallas man in his 50s. Two Dallas men in their 60s. A Cedar Hill woman in her 60s.  A Mesquite man in his 60s. A Cockrell Hill man in his 60s. An Irving man in his 60s. Two Dallas women in their 60s. A Mesquite woman in her 60s. A DeSoto man in his 60s. A Dallas man in his 60s.  Two Dallas women in their 70s. A Garland man in his 70s. A Mesquite woman in her 70s. Two Rowlett women in their 80s.  Two Dallas women in their 80s. A Cedar Hill man in his 80s. A Dallas woman in her 80s. A Dallas man in his 80s. Three Dallas women in their 90s.

805 New Cases In Tarrant County 

Another 805 cases in the area raises the total to 30,162. There have been 396 deaths and 17,689 people who have recovered from the virus in the area. 

Collin County Reports 318 New Cases 

There are an additional 318 cases in the county, raising the total to 6,738. There have been 84 deaths and 4,915 recoveries in the area. 

95 New Cases In Denton County 

There are 95 new cases, bringing the total to 7,127. There have been 89 recoveries, increasing the countywide recovery total to 4,041. 

Gov. Abbott To Visit Hard-Hit Areas In The State

The Governor today will travel to some harder-hit areas of Texas for briefings on efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus. 

Abbott will receive an update on Personal Protective Equipment and deliver remarks at the state emergency management division’s warehouse in San Antonio.

The agency’s director and Abbott will then fly to the Rio Grande Valley for an update on the McAllen Convention Center. 

The center’s being converted into a healthcare facility to help meet hospital capacity needs in that region.

Tarrant County Cases On Downward Trend

Tarrant County is beginning to see COVID-19 cases trend downward. 

The county had been peaking at about a 20% positivity rate. Now the rate’s around 13.5%. 

“That’s a significant decline over the last few weeks, so this is good news, county Public Health Director Vinny Tineja told county commissioners Tuesday. “We’re not below the ideal 10%, and the real goal is to be below 5%.” 

Taneja said COVID-19 case counts will continue to go down if people continue to wear masks, and stay home as much as possible. 

The county’s also reporting lower COVID-19 related occupancy rates at area hospitals.

Dallas County Health Officials Express Concern About Fewer Positive Case Numbers

Dallas County health officials want to know why fewer COVID-19 tests come back positive at one of its two free testing sites.

The Dallas Morning News reports about 7% of people tested at the University of Dallas site had positive test results.

That’s compared to 17% of those who got a test at sites run by Parkland Hospital – including Ellis Davis Field House.

The county health department director said one possible cause could be problems with the tubes used to transport the specimens that could potentially lead to inaccurate results. Dr. Philip Huang added it also could be the tests are accurate, and that fewer people tested at the University of Dallas site were infected.

Coronavirus cases in Dallas County soared last month. At least a thousand new cases were reported each day.

But in the past two weeks, the number of positive cases reported daily in Dallas County has declined, fueling hope that the decline is due to better social distancing and mask use.

Houston Mayor Implements $250 Fine For Mask Order Violations

The mayor has instructed police in Houston to begin issuing $250 fines for ignoring statewide mask orders.

Those caught in Houston not wearing a mask would get a warning first. The fine’s for a second offense.

Sylvester Turner yesterday said he did so in hopes of stopping a summer resurgence of COVID-19.

Texas overall has seen encouraging trends in hospitalizations and infection rates.

But Mayor Turner calls this month critical as schools approach reopening and fall flu season lurks around the corner. 

Dallas County Reports Lowest Number Of Daily Cases Since June

Another 382 cases brings the total to 51,490. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said today marks the lowest daily number of cases since June 16. He said the declining case count is a sign that masking and social distancing efforts are working: 

“Today’s number is the lowest we’ve seen since June 16 and growing evidence that masking, maintaining a six foot distance and avoiding unnecessary trips outside the home for anything but work or exercise is working. We need to continue our community resolve to get the coronavirus under control so that less people get sick, more businesses stay open and our kids can get back to school sooner rather than later.”

Three deaths were reported today:

A Mesquite woman in her 60s. A Dallas man in his 70s who was the resident of a long-term care facility. An Irving man in his 80s. 

Denton County Reports 94 New Cases, 56th Death

A Carrollton man in his 80s with COVID-19 has died. He lived at the Brookhaven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

His death brings the number related to the disease countywide to 56. County health officials are also reporting 94 new cases today, bringing the cumulative total to 7,032.

22 New Cases In Collin County 

There are 22 additional cases in the area, raising the total to 6,421. There have been 83 deaths and 4,879 people who have recovered from the virus in the county. 

Tarrant County Reports 303 New Cases 

An additional 303 cases brings the total to 29,357. There have been 391 deaths in the area and 16,882 people who have recovered from the virus. 

Dallas Contemporary To Stay Closed This Year

The Dallas Contemporary will remain closed to the public for the rest of the year — but will boost its presence online. It becomes the first sizable Dallas arts organization to officially write off the next six months because of COVID-19. It’s possibly the first fine art museum in the country to announce such a plan.

Read the full story from Jerome Weeks at Art&Seek.

Texas State Teachers Assoc. Pushes Back On TEA Reopening Guidelines

The top teachers group in Texas has taken issue with the state guidelines created for starting the school year amid the pandemic. 

The Texas State Teachers Association says the guidelines Gov. Greg Abbott and other Republican leaders doubled down on Friday would unfairly punish public school districts that choose to stick with online instruction exclusively for safety’s sake. 

The guidelines limit districts to four weeks of exclusively online instruction unless they get a waiver from the Texas Education Agency. Health officials are relegated to an advisory role.

State Upgrades System That Processes COVID-19 Lab Reports

Texas did not issue the latest daily counts of COVID-19 cases and fatalities yesterday.

Health officials were working to upgrade the electronic system used to process lab reports. 

The state health services department will release the Sunday counts today after the scheduled upgrade is completed. 

Saturday’s report included more than 9,500 new cases and another 268 deaths linked to virus. 

Dallas County Reports 518 New Cases 

There are 518 new cases in the area, raising the total to 51,108. There have been 688 deaths in the county. Of the total deaths reported so far, roughly 28% have been associated with long-term care facilities. 

Another seven deaths were reported today: 

A Dallas man in his 30s. A Dallas man in his 40s. A Garland woman in her 50s. A Dallas woman in her 60s. A Dallas man in his 60s. A Duncanville man in his 60s. A Dallas man in his 70s.

44 New Cases In Denton County 

Another 44 cases in the area raises the total to 6,938. There have been 65 newly-recovered cases in the area, bringing the total to 3,810. 

Dr. Matt Richardson, director of Denton County Public Health, said case numbers may be lower due to weekend delays. 

Collin County Reports 3 New Cases 

There are three new cases, bringing the total to 6,403. There have been 83 deaths and 153 hospitalizations in the county. 

183 New Cases In Tarrant County 

An additional 183 cases raises the total to 29,054. There have been 391 deaths and 16,033 people who have recovered from the virus in the area. 

Read More: A Timeline Of COVID-19’s Spread In North Texas 

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