Future plans at risk over rising coronavirus numbers

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

Liberty Hill has surpassed the century mark in confirmed cases, according to City officials, but among those, only 32 are current active cases.

But that is a four-fold increase in confirmed cases since June 28, mirroring the dramatic increases in the county and across the state. These numbers have led Gov. Greg Abbott to mention the possibility of another shutdown across Texas, and led some Central Texas school districts to already delay the beginning of in-person classes up to three weeks.

Texas added more than 64,000 new confirmed cases last week, with 835 new in Williamson County. The new county cases is an increase over the four-week average of 783. There were 607 fatalities across Texas in the past seven days, with 10 in Williamson County.

Two areas officials have been focused on to measure success against COVID-19 have been the testing positivity rate and hospital occupancy. But these numbers are not showing positive trends either.

The positivity rate among those tested has reached 16.9 percent, and was at 6.1 percent a month ago. Abbott said when he declared Texas would begin opening businesses in May that a positivity rate at 10 percent or higher would be cause for concern.

In Texas, the hospitalization number went up 1,300 in the past week and is up 4,000 this month at a total Tuesday of 10,569.

In the Central Texas trauma region – which includes Travis and Williamson counties – 518 people were hospitalized over COVID-19 related issues and there were 57 available intensive care unit beds available in the region.
Local testing

The free testing planned for last week in Liberty Hill has now been rescheduled for July 24 at Liberty Hill Junior High. More information on testing locations and options can be found on the Williamson County and Cities Health District website, wcchd.org.
Schools

Liberty Hill ISD is expected to discuss options and details of the plan for returning to school in August during its board meeting July 20. Superintendent Steve Snell has been providing regular updates on what the district is learning from the Texas Education Agency, and has pointed to Aug. 1 as the date LHISD hopes to share more specific plans with the community.

The district also sent out a second survey to parents this week, seeking more input on preferences and concerns relating to beginning school.

While Abbott announced last month that Texas students would be back in the classroom on time, that stance has softened this week with a number of districts around the state lobbying for the option to begin with online instruction. Now, Leander, Round Rock, Pflugerville and Austin districts all plan to begin with online instruction for the first three weeks of the school year.

LHISD has not indicated yet whether it will plan to do the same.

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