Travis County sees renewed upward trend in recent coronavirus cases, indicating a possible second surge

Austin-Travis County Health Authority Mark Escott gives a virtual coronavirus update to the Travis County Commissioners Court, led by interim Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe. (Courtesy Travis County)
Austin-Travis County Health Authority Mark Escott gives a virtual coronavirus update to the Travis County Commissioners Court, led by interim Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe. (Courtesy Travis County)

Austin-Travis County Health Authority Mark Escott gives a virtual coronavirus update to the Travis County Commissioners Court, led by interim Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe. (Courtesy Travis County)

Travis County is seeing a renewed upward trend in coronavirus cases following the loosening of public health restrictions across Texas. According to Austin-Travis County Health Authority Mark Escott, it could be “the beginnings of a surge.”

In a briefing to the Travis County Commissioners Court on May 26, Escott noted that May 25 testing reports showed 86 confirmed new cases in the county in a single day, the highest one-day increase in area cases since the start of the pandemic. With three weeks passed since the state began easing up restrictions on business and restaurant openings and revoked health restrictions such as public masking, Escott said the timing indicates a potential surge in COVID-19 transmission.

“All the models I’ve seen in the past week indicate that a surge is likely to begin soon,” Escott said, noting a consistent upward trend in cases for roughly the past week. “This is about the time we’d expect to see increases in cases if it was going to happen as a result of that change in policy.”

While hospitalizations related to coronavirus have not increased as diagnosed cases have, Escott said such a change could be coming.

“As we see increasing cases, we can expect there’s going to be a lag in the hospitalizations of those individuals who are newly diagnosed by a week or so at least, maybe 10 days,” Escott said. “So we’ll be patiently watching to see what happens with hospitalizations over the next week to two weeks to see if that is increasing following the increase in diagnosed cases.”


Additionally, Escott reported a disproportionate ratio of positive coronavirus tests in Travis County’s Latinx community as well as a “substantially maintained increase” in the number of hospitalized cases in that group. Escott said the county’s COVID-19 outbreak was “concentrated around our Latinx community.”

In order to curb the projected second surge in Travis County COVID-19 cases, Escott said the public would need to renew efforts to maintain strict public health recommendations, including taking social distancing measures and wearing masks while out in public despite “mixed messages” from some state and national officials.

“It’s what we need as a community to keep a lid on this and keep disease spread under control,” Escott said.
By Olivia Aldridge

Multi-Platform Journalist

Olivia hosts and produces Community Impact Newspaper's podcasts, The Austin Breakdown, The Houston Breakdown and The DFW Breakdown. She launched the podcasts after nearly three years as a reporter for the newspaper, covering public health, business, development and Travis County government for the Central Austin edition. Olivia worked as a reporter and producer for South Carolina Public Radio before moving to Texas.