Where Austin Stands With COVID-19


Atina Hartmann

Walgreens and many other stores have temporarily closed or run out of basic needs.

Round Rock transitioned to online learning after spring break as COVID-19 began to appear in Austin. So far, Texas confirmed there are at least 13,484 cases and 977 of them are in Travis County. RRISD has canceled all events for the remainder of the school year due to these developments. These dates may be altered with COVID-19 continuing to sweep across counties in Texas.

“They should be figuring out ways to help us graduate and enjoy our senior year, ” Issac Black ‘20 said. “Some students are stressed out about the schedule change, events are moved, and…  graduation [being] canceled.” 

Austin partnered with Travis County to implement the “Stay Home – Work Safe” protocol.  Residents are required to stay indoors, which has been extended by Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt till May 8. If Austinites do go outside they are required to practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from other people. Exceptions include medical trips, grocery shopping, outdoor exercise, and any other activities that contribute to the health of the public.

“People argue that they’re not gonna die from it and while that may be true they could be passing it on to someone more vulnerable to the virus, ” Haily Ham ‘22 said. “My family and I are disinfecting the house often and we are trying our best to wash our hands whenever needed.” 

Anyone who thinks that they might have had contact with carriers of COVID-19 should quarantine themselves and anyone they live with. The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, coughing, shortness of breath, diarrhea, and loss of smell or taste. People who exhibit these symptoms are instructed not to drive to the doctor’s office and instead call in advance to seek further instructions. 

Due to the shortage of testing kits, only a small number of patients are being tested. Those who seek treatment at a hospital will be given a screening by a nurse before seeing a doctor. Hospitals like St. Davids have also designated special locations for COVID-19 patient intake to keep infected patients separated from other patients. 

“The contingency plans are already developed and we’re finding [out] what happens if we don’t do the social distancing enough [in respect to COVID-19],”  City Council Member Jimmy Flannigan said.

Masks are required to be worn outside public places, public buildings, transportation, and pumping gas. They are not required when riding in your own vehicle. Those who don’t wear a mask in public places could be penalized with a $1,000 fine and be sentenced to 180 days in jail.

Lines have become common outside of grocery stores they have begun limiting the number of customers allowed in at once. Grocery stores have implemented clear dividers at the checkout to enforce sanitation between customers and employees. All grocery stores and service sector employees are required to wear masks or fabric face coverings at work. Many fast food places have also discontinued sit down service.

“They’re acting relatively quickly but at the same time they’re playing a game of cat and mouse with the situation it seems.” Issac Sherman ’20 said. “For the most part I’m indifferent, it sucks not being able to see my friends like that but it will pass.”

As RRISD, Austin, and the state take more serious action against the pandemic, citizens are beginning to feel the heat. Many residents face unemployment and are having difficulty affording necessities such as food. The measures do appear to be working, however, as Austin still lags behind other large Texas cities when it comes to reported COVID-19 cases.