Despite virus surge, no new restrictions



State and county leaders are urging residents to take every precaution in the face of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, but have stopped short of mandating any tighter restrictions.

Confirmed case numbers have spiked over the last 10 days, with cases statewide increasing by 37 percent, and a 66 percent increase in Williamson County.

One statistic officials have focused on is hospitalizations, a number that has also steadily increased. As of Tuesday, there were 4,092 people hospitalized in Texas due to COVID-19, rising by an average of 176 patients per day since June 14.

In the Austin area, there are 825 available beds with 245 currently hospitalized. This designated trauma area includes Williamson County, where 24 are currently in the hospital.

On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott opened the door for local officials to impose additional restrictions on outdoor gatherings of 100 or more, and last week he allowed larger cities to begin implementing safety measures such as mandating masks in businesses.

“Today’s proclamation and emergency rules will aid in that effort in two key ways: allowing restrictions on large gatherings where COVID-19 is easily spread and implementing a statewide standard of infection control for child care centers. However, as we face this challenge, there is no substitute for personal responsibility. I urge all Texans to do everything in their power to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus by wearing a face mask, washing their hands often, and staying six feet apart from others,” he said.

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell has followed Abbott’s lead, choosing to encourage people to wear masks, but stopping short of making it mandatory.

“In the last week, we passed the milestone of our 30th resident dying because of COVID-19,” Gravell said. “And so it is still a very serious disease and pandemic that we deal with, but I think that we have learned that common sense really plays a big role in protecting each other.”

Looking ahead to the July 4th holiday, Abbott said local officials have the authority to limit gatherings.

Liberty Hill will hold its Independence Day Spectacular July 3, implementing a number of safety measures and precautions.

According to County statistics, the 78642 zip code has between 10 and 60 confirmed cases. Mayor Rick Hall said Tuesday he believes the number for Liberty Hill is close to the 22 reported last week, not counting those recovered.

The total fatalities to date in Texas reached 2,220 Tuesday. While the number of recoveries in Texas has grown by more than 12,000 over the last 10 days, the increase in active cases has risen by nearly 20,000. In Williamson County, the number of active cases has eclipsed recoveries 732 to 722, with 32 deaths among 1,498 total cases reported Tuesday.