The Williamson County Sun

Williamson County

Covid-19 Statistics
Total cases 50,815
  Confirmed cases  42,838
 Additional Probable cases 7,977
Increase since 7/26 596
Deaths 493

Vaccinated: Eligible Population (age 12 and up)

Fully 61.44%
  One dose 70.91%

Vaccinated:
Total Population

Fully Vaccinated 51.31%
  Vaccinated one dose 59.22%

Find a vaccine provider

CDC vaccine info

Hospital beds available 534
% hospital beds avail. 12%
ICU beds available 16
% ICU beds avail. 2%
GA-32 Total TSA % 8.24%
Phase Red
  • Green - Minimal Spread
  • Yellow - Moderate Spread
  • Orange - High Spread
  • Red - Uncontrolled Spread

Updated July 30


Williamson County back in Red Phase

 

With Covid-19 infection rates increasing across the region, Williamson County, as well as Austin and Travis County, have elevated their Covid pandemic risk stages.

Monday, for the second time this month, the Williamson County and Cities Health District increased the Covid risk stage, this time to Red Phase, meaning “uncontrolled community spread.”

Public health officials from both counties have said that Covid vaccinations continue to prove extremely effective in protecting those who have completed the required series of shots. However, unvaccinated individuals continue to facilitate the spread of new variants

read more.


  •  
  • 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 9,011 +101
Round Rock 11,495 +186
Hutto 3,160 +49
Cedar Park 3,205 +39
Leander 3,678 +57
Austin (in wilco) 4,055 +63
Other towns 5,846 +89
Age Group
Age C Δ
Under 5 830 +17
5 to 10 1,726 +44
11 to 13 1,196 +23
14 to 17 2,148 +34
18 to 30 10,132 +124
31 to 40 7,719 +108
41 to 50 7,354 +86
51 to 60 5,536 +37
61 to 70 3,188 +22
71 to 80 1,779 +2
81 and over 1,230 +8

  C=Confirmed Cases
  Δ=Change (Updated weekly)

Deaths by Age Group
Age Total Δ
18-50 20 --
51-60 55 --
61-70 76 --
71-80 133 +1
81+ 209 +1

Outside Wilco


Location Cases Deaths
Bell 26,989 461
Travis 89,433 900
Texas 3,127,436 53,198
U.S. 34,814,925 612,388

 

Sources:

 

Definitions

 

Coronavirus testing

Wilco residents can go to wilco.org/coronavirus to schedule a drive-thru test at one of the testing locations. Individuals must first fill out an online assessment and then wait for a call from the facility within 48 hours to schedule an appointment.


The Guide to Georgetown

The Guide to Georgetown


[View all publications]


Public meetings

• Georgetown school board:
regular session,
7 p.m. Monday,
Hammerlun Center,
East University Ave.
Watch at georgetownisd.org

• Commissioners Court:
regular weekly session,
9:30 a.m. Tuesday,
county courthouse,
710 S. Main St.
Watch at wilco.org

• City Council: Tuesday,
519 W. Ninth St.,
3 p.m. workshop and
6 p.m. meeting,
second and fourth Tuesday.
Watch at georgetown.org/gtv

 

90 percent of Covid patients
are unvaccinated

 

Vaccines, masking still most effective at limiting spread

By CHRISTOPHER DE LOS SANTOS

 

Although hospitalizations and Intensive Care Unit stays for Covid-19 patients have been rising in Williamson County and the greater Austin metro area since the end of June, most of these patients are unvaccinated, and patients who are vaccinated usually experience mild symptoms.

 

Fully vaccinated patients who get Covid are referred to as breakthrough cases, Texas Department of State Health Services spokesperson Douglas Loveday said July 23. 

At St. David’s HealthCare’s greater Austin-area hospitals, “only one breakthrough case patient has gone to an ICU,” said Dr. Brian Metzger, medical director of infectious diseases at St. David’s HealthCare.

 

“It’s a good idea to go back to wearing a mask, even if you’re fully vaccinated.” 

Dr. Metzger

St. David’s HealthCare

 

About 10 percent of total Covid patients in St. David’s HealthCare hospitals in that same area are breakthrough cases, Dr. Metzer said July 26. 

 

“About 99 percent of these breakthrough cases show mild symptoms,” he said. “Ninety percent of our Covid patients right now are unvaccinated.”

 

Baylor Scott & White Health hospitals in Austin and the Hill Country, including Williamson County, “are seeing an increasing number of patients sick with Delta variant Covid-19 who are requiring hospitalization and intensive care” and “the vast majority are unvaccinated,” said Dr. Rob Watson, chief medical officer for the Austin and Hill Country regions at BS&W Health.

 

“We have seen a few vaccine breakthrough cases, but those patients are typically showing milder symptoms,” he added.

 

Vaccines most effective 

Data continues to show the vaccines are effective against new strains of Covid-19, said Dr. Watson, “both in terms of preventing infections and reducing the need for hospitalization if infected.”

 

The state health department has data on Covid cases statewide among people fully vaccinated through July 15, Mr. Loveday said. 

 

“From July 1-15, there were less than 10 breakthrough cases in Texas that led to hospitalization and/or death,” he said.

 

Statewide, more cases and hospitalizations are occuring in younger Texans, “many of whom may not have received a vaccination or been fully vaccinated,” Mr. Loveday said.

The Delta variant is proving to be more readily passed from patient to patient, than prior strains, Mr. Loveday said. 

 

“So, we’re encouraging people 12 years and older to get vaccinated to protect against Delta variant infection and to slow the rise of cases we’re now seeing across the state,”  he added.

 

This is a good time for the unvaccinated to get vaccinated, Dr. Metzger agreed. It is also a good time for those who still need their second shot to get it.

 

Masking will help

Wearing a mask and changing it daily continue to help to prevent the spread of Covid, Dr. Metzger said. 

 

“It’s a good idea to go back to wearing a mask, even if you’re fully vaccinated,” Dr. Metzger said. “If you wear one mask for several hours continuously, you should change it.” 

 

When indoors, or unable to social distance around people from other households — even for people fully vaccinated — “wearing a mask is the best intervention to stop the surge in cases and hospitalizations,” Dr. Metzger added.

 

The Williamson County and Cities Health District recommends protective measures for people who are not yet fully vaccinated and says that those who are fully vaccinated may engage in all activities as before the pandemic.

 

Protective measures the health district recommends include: 

• wearing masks and social distancing around people from other households.    

• practicing good hand hygiene. 

• using online services rather than in person services when and where possible.

• avoiding large indoor gatherings. 

 

Some businesses in Georgetown continue to limit staff contact with customers and to leave things like plexiglass dividers and social distancing stickers in place, said Michele Jaroszewski-Webb, Georgetown Chamber of Commerce chairwoman of the board. Some retail locations also require staff to continue wearing masks, she noted.

 

Variants emerging 

The Delta variant of Covid-19 continues to be the predominant strain of the disease in Texas and in Williamson County, according to lab testing data from the state health department.

 

But another variant has entered the state, Dr. Metzger said.

 

“Houston Methodist [Hospital] found the Lambda variant in their surveillance area,” Dr. Metzger said. 

 

It has not been identified in the greater Austin area, yet. Dr. Watson said the Lambda variant has been identified in Bell County.

 

Believed to have originated in Peru, not much is currently known about the Lambda variant in Texas, Dr. Metzger said.

 

Researchers are beginning to study the Lambda variant and are testing the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines against it, Dr. Metzger said.



 

GISD seeks input on Covid safety protocols

TEA says ‘facemasks not required’; online learning only at Richarte 


In-person or online learning? What area districts are doing


Jarrell ISD    In-person learning districtwide with no online option for students

 

Round Rock ISD    Online learning option for students up to sixth grade. Safety protocols will be released July 29

 

Leander ISD    Online option for all students, pre-K åthrough grade 12

 

Austin ISD    Online learning option for students up to sixth grade. Safety protocols will be released July 30

 

Georgetown ISD    In-person learning districtwide, with online learning availåable only for students in grades 9-12 enrolled at Richarte High School.

 

By KATHERINE ANTHONY

 

With the new school year ready to kick off August 19, Georgetown ISD is seeking community input on proposed 2021-22 Covid-19 safety protocols — including optional mask-wearing as dictated by the Texas Education Agency.

 

Links to a draft plan and a feedback page can be accessed from the district’s “News” page on its website, www.georgetownisd.org.

 

The deadline to submit input is August 4.

 

Courtney Acosta, GISD’s chief strategist for systems and operations, briefed  trustees on the draft plan at their July 19 meeting.

 

Ms. Acosta said the district is planning face-to-face learning for all students, with online learning available only for students in grades 9-12 enrolled at Richarte High School.

GISD’s draft plan includes protocols for Covid-19 screening and isolation, personal protective equipment, disinfecting and hand washing, campus cleaning and disinfecting, and mental health resources.

 

In addition to online input, Ms. Acosta said the district is gathering feedback from principals, the School Health Advisory Council, PTA and District Safety Committee.

State Mandates

 

Texas Education Agency has issued health and safety guidlines for the upcoming school year. 


The following State Mandates are in effect for all school districts.

• Districts must allow students or staff to wear a face mask if they choose to do so; but they may not require masks.

• If a staff or student tests positive for Covid-19, the district must notify the local health department and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

 


 

Poor People’s Campaign sets Wednesday departure point for 4-day march from Georgetown to State Capitol



By KATHERINE ANTHONY


The four-day, 27-mile Georgetown-to-Austin Moral March to Democracy will hit the road at 7 a.m. on Wednesday with social activist Rev. William Barber and former U.S. Congressman Beto O’Rourke in the lead.

 

The march’s departure point is the Christ Lutheran Church, 510 Luther Drive, in southeast Georgetown. The church will also be the site of a prayer service on Tuesday evening following a 5 p.m. news conference.

 

The march will begin each day at 8 a.m. and finish for the day in the early afternoon. It will conclude with a rally at the State Capitol in Austin four days later — July 31 — at 10 a.m. 

 

Daily stopping points are at the Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church, Round Rock; North Austin Muslim Community Center, Austin; and University Baptist Church, Austin.

Due to the Covid-19 precautions, the number of marchers will be limited each day to 125, according to Gina Hinojosa, a spokesperson for Mr. O’Rourke.

 

Rev. Barber is the nationally-known co-founder of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. He also serves on the national board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and is the chair of its Legislative Political Action Committee

 

Rev. Barber announced the march July 18, while in Georgetown preaching at St. Paul United Methodist Church.

 

The march will address five specific issues which Rev. Barber says are “attacks on our democracy”:

  • Ending the Congressional filibuster
  • Passing all provisions of the For the People Act
  • Fully restoring the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
  • Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour
  • Securing permanent protection, dignity, and respect for all undocumented immigrants.

More information is available at www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/committee/texas/

 


 

A woman hands a kitten to a little girl.

Pat Dittberner of Georgetown, right, and her granddaughter, 5-year-old Sage Dittberner, left, look over a kitten for adoption during the  Georgetown Animal Shelter’s kitten adoptions held July 16, at the Georgetown Public Library.  Photo by Andy Sharp

 

 Kitten season
poses problem for shelters

 

How to adopt 


Ongoing adoption info, events and specials can be found online and by calling local shelters. Available pets can also be found online.


Williamson County

Regional Animal Shelter

1855 Southeast Inner Loop

512-943-3322

wilcopets.org


Georgetown

Animal Shelter

110 Walden Drive

512-930-3592

pets.georgetown.org

BY KATE THURMOND

 

Local animal shelters are seeing an uptick in the number of animals they’re caring for, and have started to host special adoption events that will continue through the fall.

 

The Georgetown Animal Shelter held their Kittens in the Library adoption event in collaboration with the Georgetown Public Library July 16. The two-hour event found homes for 22 of the 25 kittens the shelter brought, freeing up some much needed space at the facility. 

 

“Because of kitten season, we found ourselves bursting at the seams with kittens,” said April Haughey, City of Georgetown animal services manager. “We have around 124 cats and kittens. That’s a lot for our shelter.”

 

The Kittens in the Library event was the first adoption event the shelter had been able to hold since last March. The lack of events was due, in part, to the loss of many of their volunteers, who had to be cut entirely last year due to Covid-19 protocols. 

Now that vaccinations are prevalent, the Georgetown Shelter plans to launch a volunteer recruitment campaign next month to rebuild their volunteer staff, and restart their adoption events. Pre-Covid, the shelter was holding two or three events a month. 

 

“It’s definitely been a challenge not having those,” Ms. Haughey said. “We’re really seeing an uptick in numbers from May. It’s kitten season that’s really making it stressful.”

 

Ms. Haughey defined kitten season as the period running spring through the summer when a large number of stray kittens are born. She said this season broke later than usual— possibly because of the freeze — and that has affected the numbers of animals needing to be adopted. 

 

Once their new volunteer staff has been trained, the Georgetown shelter plans to partner with local organizations such as Wag Heaven, Pupology, and the library to hold adoption events and hopefully get more animals into homes. 

Their next event on the books will be the Clear the Shelters nationwide event on September 18. The event helps highlight shelters around the U.S. and offers adoption specials for those adopting on the day. 

 

The Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter will also be participating in the Clear the Shelter event, and are experiencing the same uptick in shelter animals currently. April Peiffer, the shelter’s community programs coordinator, said that this is usually expected during the summer months. 

 

“People are traveling, moving, the kids are home… it’s a transitional time,” she said. “People aren’t adopting as much. So we try to prepare for that.”

 

One of the ways they prepare has been to hold adoption events like the “Cat’s Pajamas” party they threw last Friday, in which the shelter stayed open late and waived fees for anyone adopting on that day. Thirty-three cats and kittens found new homes that day, making the event a success for the shelter. 

 

“We’ve got a lot of guys that need homes,” Ms. Peiffer said. “It is definitely kitten season.” 

 

Over the coming months, the Wilco Regional Animal Shelter will continue to hold adoption events and specials each week, which can range from walk-ins to “buy one get one free” kittens. 

 

“We’re always looking for creative and fun ways to get people to come in and meet the animals,” she said. 

   


What’s going on in the library?


• Through August 22: Ellen Greeney: Longitudes with Latitudes Exhibit, first floor Café Gallery

• Through September 17: Texas Society of Sculptors 13th Show, first and second floors

• Through July 31: Voting for the People’s Choice Award in the Texas Society of Sculptors show

• Through August 4: 13 Jewish Drivers’ Licenses exhibit, first floor

• Through August 22: Alex Vietti: Construction exhibit, second floor Bridge Gallery

• July 25, 2-4 p.m.: Reception for Alex Vietti

• Through August 22: Sun City Photography Club: The Eyes Have It, second floor Hall Gallery

• July 27, 10:30 a.m.: Summer Adventure with Wildlife on the Move at Chautauqua Park

• July 28, 1 p.m.: Tween Summer Adventure: Chemistry Road Show (ages 9-12; tickets required)

• July 28, 4 p.m.: Teen Summer Adventure: Chemistry Road Show (ages 12-18; tickets required)

• August 15, 1 p.m.: Awards reception for the Texas Society of Sculptors show

• August 6, 4-6 p.m.: Reception for Ellen Greeney, Café Gallery

• August 25-September 26: Central Texas Pastel Society: Symphony of Images exhibit, second floor Bridge and Hall galleries

• September 2-23: Susan Hoppenworth: Works and Words from a 9/11 First Responder, display cases, second floor Bridge

• September 10, 4-6 p.m.: Susan Hoppenworth presentation and reception, second floor Hewlett Room

• September 11, 1-3 p.m.: Sculpture Demonstration,

first floor Lobby

For more information about these and other library events, visit library.georgetown.org/events-calendar or call 512-930-3551.

 


 

Ready for the school year? 

Fill The Bus supply giveaway coming August 7

 

By KATHERINE ANTHONY

 

With the start of the new school year approaching, it’s time for families to get the school supplies they’ll need.

 

The Georgetown Area Junior Forum (GAJF) will host its annual Fill The Bus school supply distribution event for GISD students on August 7, 10 a.m. to noon (or as supplies last). GAJF anticipates giving supplies to more than 800 local students, including free backpacks stuffed with items. 

 

The event will take place at 1200 West 17th Street. The address is the former Carver Elementary school building near 17th Street and Scenic Drive.

 

Like last year, the distribution will be a drive-up event. This year will include two supply lines, one for elementary students, and one for older students and mixed-age families. 

 

About 35 GAJF volunteers will help get the filled backpacks into students’ hands.

 

The event is open to all Georgetown ISD families and there is no maximum number of bags per vehicle, Carol Tharp, GAJF member said. 

 

Families will receive backpacks with basic school supplies — writing tools, rulers, glue sticks, crayons, and composition books. 

GAJF has been sponsoring the supply drive for 11 years, Ms. Tharp said, and the event grows annually. 

 

GISD’s first day of the 2021-22 school year is August 19.

Donations to help GAJF purchase school supplies can be made at 

www.gajf.org.

 

“We’re always looking for sponsors,” Ms. Tharp said.

She recognized corporate partner Intelligent Logistics, which has assisted in securing supplies.

The Georgetown Area Junior Forum is a non-profit organization of women who share the common goal of improving the lives of others in the community through service and philanthropy. The organization hopes to grow, and membership information can be found on its website.

 


 

Parks & Rec survey invites comments on master plan

 

By KATHERINE ANTHONY

 

The City of Georgetown is seeking community suggestions for its Parks and Recreation Master Plan. Four thousand surveys have been mailed to a random sample of households. In addition, the survey can be taken online.

 

People who received the survey in the mail should follow the instructions instead of responding to the open-link survey. The survey is open July 12-25.

 

The open-link survey will give all residents an opportunity to provide feedback, and all responses will be included in the final analysis, which the city expects to share by the end of August.

 

It includes questions about facilities, programs and activity offerings.

 

“The results of this survey will create a priority blueprint for where we can improve, how to grow responsibly, and what programs and recreational opportunities our community needs,” Parks and Recreation Director Kimberly Garrett said.

 

The master plan will provide a vision and guide the Parks and Recreation Department for the next 10 years. It will prioritize the community’s desires for upgrading and improving parks and recreation assets to develop goals, policies and guidelines, as well as an implementation plan.

 

There will be several opportunities for public thoughts throughout the master planning process, which is expected to be completed by January 2022. So far, public engagement to develop the master plan has included a community questionnaire and a May public forum.

 

During the master plan process, consultants GreenPlay will look at Georgetown’s existing parks, recreational facilities and services and use the public’s reviews to determine the future level of services that will be needed. 

 

GreenPlay also is conducting a needs assessment survey to determine priorities for the parks and recreation system, identify potential funding sources and partnerships and create a plan for how best to support the parks and recreation needs of the community.