The Williamson County Sun

Williamson County

Covid-19 Statistics
Cases in 28 Days 24,712
Deaths in 28 Days 17
Total cases 103,193
  Confirmed cases  87,710
 Additional Probable cases 15,483
Total Deaths 764
Hospital beds available* 598
% hospital beds avail. 15%
ICU beds available 25
% ICU beds avail. 6%
GA-32 Total TSA % 14.45
Phase Red
  • Green - Minimal Spread
  • Yellow - Moderate Spread
  • Orange - High Spread
  • Red - Uncontrolled Spread

Updated January 18


  •  
  • WCCHD strongly encourages vaccination, social and physical distancing, wearing a mask, and washing your hands.

*Available Hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators includes all units in Williamson County.

 

Cases by City

City C Δ
Georgetown 17,988 +185
Round Rock 24,504 +344
Hutto 6,450 +62
Cedar Park 7,029 +96
Leander 8,252 +122
Austin (in wilco) 8,865 +131
Other towns 11,372 +99
Confirmed Cases by Age
Age C Δ
Under 5 2,372 +37
5 to 10 6,460 +111
11 to 13 4,011 +59
14 to 17 5,404 +80
18 to 30 19,370 +224
31 to 40 15,827 +187
41 to 50 14,072 +164
51 to 60 9,889 +133
61 to 70 5,525 +56
71 to 80 3,035 +30
81 and over 1,714 +10

  C=Confirmed Cases
  Δ=Change

Deaths by Age Group
Age Total Δ
18-50 82 --
51-60 114 +1
61-70 135 --
71-80 180 --
81+ 253 --

Outside Wilco


Location Cases Deaths
Bell 52,674 761
Travis 143,911 1,225
Texas 5,619,943 77,344
U.S. 66,456,516 851,730

 

Sources:

 

Definitions

 


Vaccinations, Covid cases up in Wilco

 

By CHRISTOPHER DE LOS SANTOS

Around 63.3 percent of Williamson County’s 609,000 residents have taken a primary series of Covid-19 vaccine as of January 16, state data show. Around 23.8 percent of residents are boosted.

With the Omicron variant, the county is averaging around 1,090 new people with a lab-confirmed case of Covid per day over the past week, according to Williamson County and Cities Health District data. 

That number is almost double the highest number of daily new cases reported in the Delta variant surge on September 1.

 The rate of new tests coming back positive over last week has been 27 percent. 

That’s between the January 2 peak of 42.2 percent and the peak with the Delta variant on August 30 of around 18.9 percent.

In Williamson and the surrounding counties, 14.5 percent of hospital resources are devoted to treating Covid-19, with nearly 600 hospital beds available and 25 ICU beds open, as of January 13.

With around 87,700 cases confirmed in the county since the start of the pandemic, 764 people have died of Covid, as of January 13, yielding a case mortality rate of around 1 percent. Around 99 percent of people who get Covid in the county are recovering.

 

 

 

 

Staff shortages close two Wilco school districts for remainder of the week



By KATHERINE ANTHONY

Covid-related staff shortages have forced two more area school districts to close for the week.

Jarrell ISD shut down its four campuses Wednesday through Friday, January 19-21; and Liberty Hill will close Thursday and Friday.

Hutto ISD, which last week announced its schools would be closed for the first part of this week, will have campuses reopen Thursday.


Jarrell ISD

Jarrell ISD’s Superintendent Toni Hicks announced her district’s closure late Tuesday afternoon. "This was a difficult decision to make, but a necessary one,” Ms. Hicks said. 

“When I met with principals yesterday, each campus reported more than a dozen staff absences. These staff members will be out for the remainder of the week. 

“My number one priority is the safety of our staff and students. We can not safely operate our schools when we face a staff shortage like this.”

JISD schools are expected to reopen on Monday, said Nick Spinetto, JISD communications director.

He said Wednesday that about a third of the district’s 324 employees had reported sick the previous day. 

There were 41 active student cases as of Tuesday, Mr. Spinetto said.

JISD enrolls about 2,300 students at four campuses — Jarrell and Igo elementary schools, and Jarrell middle and high schools. 

Superintendent Hicks said Wednesday that she is "so proud of the entire Jarrell ISD team. When someone was out, a teacher or staff member stepped up to help where needed.” 

“We closed our Central Office one day last week so the staff could assist on campus. I commend them for their dedication and commitment. They are what makes Jarrell ISD great," she said.

In announcing the district’s closure, Ms. Hicks explained that the district understands this puts some families in a difficult situation. However, closing campuses for the remainder of the week is the best chance JISD has to mitigate the further spread of Covid-19, she said. 

During the closure, campuses will be deep cleaned and sanitized.

Mr. Spinetto said JISD’s school-year calendar can absorb these three closure days without having to schedule make-up days. 


Liberty Hill ISD

LHISD administration made the decision to close on Wednesday after experiencing the sixth consecutive day with more than 100 staff absences.

“LHISD is experiencing historic temporary staffing shortages due to Covid and Covid-related illnesses,” Superintendent Steven Snell said in a statement to district parents. “Our student attendance rate, which is usually 96 percent, is down to 82 percent.  

“Due to the continued staffing shortages and student absences, we feel it is in the best interest of our staff and students to close for the remainder of the week.”

He added that closing LHISD campuses “is the best opportunity to get our staff healthy and prevent COVID-19 from spreading as quickly.”

Liberty Hill ISD has eight campuses. Elementary campuses are Santa Rita, Rancho Sienna, Noble, Burden, Liberty Hill. Secondary campuses are Santa Rita and Liberty Hill middle schools, and Liberty Hill High School.

 


 

Three Wilco blazes extinguished

 

State of disaster declared after fires fought in Taylor, Hutto, Florence 

Tips by National Weather Service to prevent brush fires include the following: 

• Do not throw cigarette butts out of car windows.
• Do not drag trailer chains that could create sparks on roadways.
• Do not park recently driven cars onto dry grass.
• Avoid outdoor burning and check recently burned materials for flare-ups.
• Clear our dead vegetation from around the home. Sparks produced from a home could create fire on nearby vegetation. 

By NICHOLAS CICALE

Williamson County fire departments spent much of Friday afternoon and evening fighting three fires ahead of a weekend cold front that brought high winds and dry air to the region. 

One of the blazes took place on the exterior of the Balcones Resources facility at 9801 Chandler Road, according to the City of Taylor. Balcones Resources is a local recycling and waste management provider. 

The fire was under control by 5:50 p.m. Friday, and crews worked to extinguish debris piles that remained hot. Two firefighters — one from the Taylor department and the second from the Jarrell Fire Department, which was assisting — were transported to the hospital due to injuries sustained at the site. 

Just outside of Hutto, a brush fire was reported at approximately 1:30 p.m. Friday near County Road 198 and Apache Pass. The fire was extinguished soon after crews arrived. 

An additional 171 acres burned just southwest of the City of Florence, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service, which helped fight the flames. The fire was first reported at about 7 p.m. Friday, and was 95 percent contained before 10 p.m. Crews continued to work through Sunday at the site. Acres impacted were east of U.S. 183 and south of County Road 290.

A local state of disaster was declared by Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell Friday evening  “due to dry vegetation, wind and imminent threat of severe damage.” The order prohibited outdoor burning, with a burn ban in effect until this Friday, unless lifted sooner by the judge.  

According to the burn ban, the order prohibits the burning of household yard waste and burning to clear land. 

A Red Flag Warning was also in effect for all of Central Texas through the weekend, with the National Weather Service’s San Antonio office warning of fire-friendly conditions. Wind gusts of 35 and 50 miles per hour were reported in the county Friday night and Saturday. Vegetation  that had been drought stressed and cured from freezing temperatures was particularly vulnerable, according to the office. 


Wag Heaven


A historic home.

A home on East Seventh Street, pictured to the right, could be torn down to create a larger yard for the home on the property to the left.



HARC votes ‘no’ to Seventh Street home demo

 

Property owners can appeal to Georgetown City Council

By KATHERINE ANTHONY

By a 3-2 vote, members of Georgetown’s Historic and Architectural Review Commission nixed the owners’ request to demolish a 130-year-old home on a lot at 412 East Seventh Street, which would have been converted into a large backyard for a neighboring property.

Voting on Thursday to deny demolition were HARC chairman Michael Walton, and members Catherine Morales and Lawrence Romero. Members Karalei Nunn and Steve Johnston voted to approve the demolition.

HARC’s vote discounted the approval of its own demolition committee to raze the structure. That approval was given last November.

Prior to the Thursday vote, Nat Waggoner, the city’s assistant planning director, told HARC members that the structure built in 1890 lacked historic significance because — with the exception of its stone chimney — all historic features and been removed from the 1,000-square-foot house through decades of refurbishment. 

Voting to deny demolition, Mr. Walton said, that what is important to Georgetown residents is that a structure remains on the lot. 

“This [demolition] feels like a matter of convenience,” he said. “An option for the owners is to offer the property for sale.”

Voting to approve demolition, HARC member Karalei Nunn said the house is not historically significant, and restoration without using original materials would “Disney-fy the house.”

Owners of the home, Jim and Amy Miller, who live around the corner from the house at 611 South Elm Street, told HARC members prior to the vote that, when purchasing the property last fall, they had been interested from a preservation standpoint. However, inspection of the structure determined the cost of restoration was prohibitive, Mr. Miller said.

The couple then decided to convert the lot to backyard space for their residence, following the proposed demolition, if approved.

“Our intention is not to destroy the character of the neighborhood,” Mr. Miller told HARC members prior to their vote. “When the structure was determined to be non-salvageable, we decided to convert the lot to greenspace.”

Sofia Nelson, city planning director, said the Millers can appeal the HARC ruling to Georgetown City Council. After the HARC meeting, Mr. Miller said he and his wife will discuss an appeal “to better understand that as an option.”

Mr. Miller declined to say what the couple paid for the home, but according to the Williamson County Appraisal District, the property had an assessed 2021 valuation of $237,409.


 

​​Omicron vs Delta statewide

As the Omicron variant of Covid-19 continues to cause record-high numbers of new cases –– around 3.5 times more new cases in Texas during the last 10 days than before the peak of the Delta variant –– the number of patients in hospitals with the disease remains below the highest number of hospitalizations recorded during the surge of the Delta variant, state data show.

With 490,000 new lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases across Texas during the last 10 days, there are around 12,300 patients hospitalized with Covid Sunday.

While the Delta variant was dominant, on August 25 Texas set a record number of people hospitalized with Covid –– about 13,900.

In the 10 days before that record number of Covid hospitalizations, the state saw 137,000 new cases.

Even though Omicron is infecting 3.5 times more people than Delta, the state is seeing fewer people hospitalized for Covid. Texas has about 0.9 times the number of people in the hospital right now for Omicron that it had at the peak of Delta.

Dr. Brian Metzger, medical director of infectious diseases at St. David’s HealthCare, said two weeks ago that Omicron is infecting the vaccinated, the unvaccinated and the boosted. But he also said that it produces a less severe form of the disease in most cases. With the numbers of new people sick, the number in the hospital is not unexpected.

 

   

 

Guitarist to perform eclectic mix of tunes

 

The Williamson County Guitar Society will host a concert with Michael Chapdelaine, with classical guitar music as well as R&B and Beatles songs.

The concert will begin at 7 p.m. on February 26 at the San Gabriel Presbyterian Church, 5404 Williams Drive.

Mr. Chapdelaine is a virtuoso guitarist and musician. He is the only guitarist to win both the Guitar Foundation of America's solo competition and the World Fingerstyle Championship in Winfield, Kansas. 

“There [is] just no concert player around that cares so much for music and cares so little about where it came from,” said Kevin Taylor, president of the Wilco Guitar Society. 

“That is who Michael Chapdelaine is. And this is why we are so happy to present in concert this February. There will be music for every taste and sensibility. The audiences will love it."

Tickets are only available online at: www.wilcoguitar.org/ticket-sales


Volunteers wanted to plant native trees

 

Help keep the City of Georgetown beautiful by planting native trees. 

Volunteers are needed to plant 30 trees in San Gabriel Park from 9 a.m. to noon February 26. Planting will help add shade to a popular area of the park, allowing it to be enjoyed safely, and to beautify the space. 

Volunteers can check-in for the event beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the green tent near the hill playground, which is located on the west end of the park. A safety briefing will be held at

8:55 a.m. Trees will be planted from 9 a.m. to noon.

No planting experience is required to volunteer, and the holes for the 25-30 gallon trees will already be dug. Groups and youth are welcome. Volunteers younger than 16 years old must be accompanied by a parent or adult, and two adults are required for every four children who sign up to volunteer. Sign up online at parks.georgetown.org/volunteer.

 

 


 

RoundAbout


LAWN AND GARDEN 101

February 1, 6 p.m.

During the seven-week “Lawn & Garden 101” class presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, you’ll learn about practical steps for selecting plants that grow well in Williamson County, conserving water in your landscape, and caring for your lawn and trees. They’ll also talk about vegetable and herb gardening, succulents, and common gardening mistakes and how to avoid them. You will hear from a highly knowledgeable Horticulturist, Master Gardeners, and other specialists. Cost is $55. The class will be every Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. starting February 1 through March 15 at 100 Wilco Way, Room 226, Georgetown.


DEATHTRAP

January 14-February 13

The Palace Playhouse will feature the play Deathtrap. This dark comedy thriller will have audiences laughing one moment and screaming in terror the next as an ambitious writer and wannabe killer discovers he may not be the only murderer in the room. This show contains violence and limited use of strong language.



 

Central Texas Philharmonic

 

Tickets are available at CentralTexasPhilharmonic.org.