The previous number of 23 confirmed cases was reported early March 18.
Austin Public Health reported the coronavirus is now in the Phase 5 stage, meaning it has spread person to person in the community. The virus mainly spreads between people who are in close contact—about 6 feet from each other—or when an infected person touches a surface or object, according to the health authority.
On March 17, the city and county announced they would close bars and dine-in services for restaurants and prohibit community gatherings of more than 10 persons to prevent the spread of the virus. Gov. Greg Abbott followed this announcement with a statewide closure of bars and dine-in services and a limit on gatherings of more than 10.
As the number of cases continues to rise in the Austin area, the local health authority announced March 18 it has received about 1,000 additional test kits from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Despite the number of new tests, "there is still a significant gap between the number of tests available and the number of people seeking a test," according to a news release.
The health authority reported that it will prioritize testing for those who most need it, including health care workers, hospital patients, those in nursing homes and those with a high risk of complications from the virus.
“Testing remains limited, and even with more tests available, we must continue to prioritize testing for the immediate future, such as healthcare workers, hospital patients, and individuals who live in nursing homes and those at high risk of complications,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County interim health authority, in the news release.