77ºF

Coronavirus in Texas: Austin says it will disclose more information about nursing home cases

Sixth Street in downtown Austin features a coronavirus-related mural.      Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune
Sixth Street in downtown Austin features a coronavirus-related mural. Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

Wednesday’s biggest developments

  • Texas reports 21,069 cases and 543 deaths
  • Walmart's first Texas coronavirus site will open in Lubbock

Texas reports 21,069 cases and 543 deaths

[1:15 p.m.] Texas reported 873 more cases of the new coronavirus Wednesday, an increase of about 4% over the previous day, bringing the total number of known cases to 21,069. Two new counties reported their first cases Wednesday; three quarters of the state’s 254 counties have reported at least one case.

Harris County has reported the most cases, 5,143, followed by Dallas County, which has reported 2,602 cases. See maps of the latest case numbers for each county and case rates per 1,000 residents.

The state has reported 26 additional deaths, bringing the statewide total to 543 — an increase of about 5% from Tuesday. Harris County reported one additional death, bringing its total to 79 deaths, more than any other county.

As of Wednesday, 1,678 patients are known to be hospitalized in Texas. That’s an increase of 259 patients from Tuesday. At least 216,783 tests have been conducted. — Mandi Cai

Austin announces nursing home case updates

[11:05 a.m.] Austin interim public health authority Mark Escott on Wednesday announced stricter orders for local nursing homes, saying at least eight facilities in Austin-Travis County have confirmed outbreaks of the new coronavirus.

The outbreaks involve at least 96 residents and 67 staff, and have led to 15 deaths of residents and one death of a health care worker, Escott said at a press conference.

The updated orders will require nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to notify patients, families and staff any time there is a case at that facility, Escott said. Facilities that are experiencing outbreaks will also now be restricted from receiving any new or returning residents until the facility has been cleared by Austin Public Health.

To further support the facilities, which Escott said have “suffered for years from lack of staffing,” officials are also creating “strike teams” to bring in additional personnel like doctors, nurses, maintenance workers and kitchen staff.

“Infection control at nursing homes has been a challenge for us for years,” Escott said. “Part of that has to do with constant struggle for staffing.”

Citing medical privacy laws, Escott said officials would not be sharing information about cases and affected facilities publicly unless there was a situation in which officials would not be able to notify at-risk individuals in a timely manner. — Sami Sparber

Lubbock gets Walmart’s first coronavirus testing site in Texas

[5 a.m.] Walmart will open a coronavirus testing site in Lubbock on Friday, which will be the retailer's first in Texas, according to The Dallas Morning News.

"We're looking at more sites," a spokeswoman told the newspaper.

Quest Diagnostics and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are helping the company to set up the locations, all of which will be outdoors, the Morning News reports.

Texas surpasses 20,000 cases and 500 deaths

[5 a.m.] Texas officials later Wednesday are expected to release the latest numbers of Texans who have contracted the new coronavirus. On Tuesday, health officials disclosed that there are at least 20,196 known cases in the state and that 517 have died. See maps of the latest case numbers for each county and case rates per 1,000 residents.

Disclosure: Quest Diagnostics and Walmart have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.