Travis County children, teenagers ages 10-19 account for recent upswing in coronavirus cases

A photo of a student with a mask on taking a test
People ages 10-19 have tested positive for COVID-19 at higher rates since the start of the school year, according to a top health official. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

People ages 10-19 have tested positive for COVID-19 at higher rates since the start of the school year, according to a top health official. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Austin area residents ages 10-19 now present the highest positivity rates for COVID-19, according to data from Austin Public Health.

Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott told Travis County commissioners at a Sept. 15 meeting that around 14% of the youth in that age range tested have been positive in the past week, accounting for an overall increase in Travis County's positive cases since Sept. 3.

"The fact that we’ve seen increases in cases is concerning, but because they’re primarily in younger age groups that have a much, much lower risk of being hospitalized and dying, we’re not seeing a significant impact on hospitalizations," Escott said. "Of course, it can spread outside of those age groups, which is why it’s really important not only that they try to avoid transmission, but once they’ve been exposed, once they are sick, it is absolutely critical that they protect other people by isolating."

High school-age children currently present the highest positivity rate, Escott said, with 14% of the last week's 235 tests coming back positive, nearly triple the general population's 4.8% positivity rate. College-age individuals tested at around 9.4%. Middle and elementary school-age children tested at 5.6% and 1.5%, respectively.

“As schools continue to increase their in-person opportunities, as well as other events happening, like athletic events and social gatherings, we’re seeing those increase, those age groups that are more likely to gather,” Escott said. “We are working with our superintendents, as well as our colleges and universities, to really try to get control of the spread in these circumstances."


Some Travis County K-12 schools began to offer in-person instruction again Sept. 8, and students returned to campus at The University of Texas on Aug. 26. UT also held its first football game Sept. 12, with around 15,000 people in attendance. UT students who attended were required to take a coronavirus antigen test prior to the game, and university officials reported that 95 of the 1,198 students tested received a positive result and not allowed to attend. Escott said those students, as well as any other students who test positive, must isolate and that they may access isolation facilities provided by Austin Public Health in partnership with Travis County and the city of Austin.

Large social gatherings on UT's campus, including fraternity and sorority events, also continue to be tracked, Escott said.

“We met with our fraternities and sororities at UT yesterday to remind them of their responsibilities to make sure that gatherings of more than 10 people are not happening, and they are subject to criminal penalties if they do not follow those health authority rules or orders of the mayor," Escott said.

First violations of COVID-19 health rules typically result in a warning, he said, with second violations resulting in a fine and criminal penalty. In the case of a "clear and present danger," the fire marshal or an Austin Code official may take immediate action.
By Olivia Aldridge
Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Central Austin edition. A graduate of Presbyterian College in upstate South Carolina, Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio before joining Community Impact in Austin.


MOST RECENT

From left: Incumbent Greg Casar is facing off against Louis C. Herrin III and Ramesses Setepenre for the District 4 Austin City Council seat. (Courtesy ATXN)
In Austin City Council’s District 4, candidates discuss addressing homelessness and mental health

Two challengers will face incumbent Greg Casar for the Northeast Austin City Council seat.

Gov. Greg Abbott on July 27 issued an executive order extending the early voting period for the Nov. 3 election. (Screenshot of Sept. 17 press conference)
Lawsuit takes aim at start date for early voting as some Texas Republicans challenge Gov. Greg Abbott's order

A group of prominent Texas Republicans has embarked on a legal effort to undo the governor's executive order that extended the early voting period for the Nov. 3 election.

A photo of Elong Musk
After filing Travis County site plans, Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks to new gigafactory’s place in the company

Tesla has filed the intial site plans for a massive manufacturing plant in southeastern Travis County.

Straying from traditionals like cheese and pepperoni, Tony C's serves specialty pies such as eggplant, prosciutto and goat cheese, and the Truffle Shuffle. (Courtesy Tony C's Pizza & Beer Garden)
Restaurant Tony C's to open Sept. 24 in Round Rock and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from Central Texas.

(Graphic illustration by Rachal Russel/Community Impact Newspaper)
From New Braunfels to Cedar Park, Central Texas outdoor recreation shops scrambling to keep inventory

When combined with temporary state restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many local shop owners are speculating a perfect storm of low supply and high demand is the main reason for changes in an industry that has of late been turned on its head.

Austin ISD teachers have been able to teach virtually from their classrooms to start the school year. Some students will return to the classroom Oct. 5. (Courtesy Austin ISD)
Austin ISD teachers adjust to virtual learning as in-person demands approach

Austin ISD teachers and principals discuss the first few weeks of virtual learning.

Early voting runs from Oct. 13-30. Election Day is Nov. 3. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Find a polling location where you can vote early in Travis County

Voters can cast their ballots at any of the 37 early voting locations from Oct. 13-30.

Mercury Hall will close in 2021. (Courtesy Mercury Hall)
Mercury Hall property cleared for 5-story apartment development

Mercury Hall will close after 2021, and a dense multifamily development is set to arrive in its wake.

Buddy's Burger is open in Northeast Austin off of Cameron Road. (Courtesy Buddy's Burger)
Now open in Austin: Party Barn is back, drive-in movies downtown, burgers in North Austin and more

Blue Starlite began showing drive-in movies downtown in September. Buddy's Burger is open off Cameron Road and planning to expand to more locations, and new bar High Noon is open on the east side.

City Post is located at 113 E. Eighth St., Georgetown. (Courtesy City Post)
Georgetown to get steakhouse, speakeasy plus more Central Texas news

Read the latest Central Texas business and community news.

Easy Tiger announced Sept. 18 it had closed its downtown Austin location on Sixth Street. (Courtesy Easy Tiger)
Easy Tiger announces permanent closure of original Sixth Street location

The local bakery and restaurant remains open at the Linc and still plans to open in South Austin.

A photo of a "sold" sign
Central Austin August housing market numbers show high dollar-volume sales

While housing inventory remains low, home prices continue to rise.