Coronavirus updates in Texas: Austin officials could decide fate of restaurants and bars


Austin Mayor Steve Adler announced the cancellation of the 2020 South by Southwest festival on March 6. Eddie Gaspar/The Texas Tribune

Tuesday's biggest developments:

  • Austin and Travis County officials could make announcement about restaurants and bars
  • Texas could be lagging other large states in number of people tested

Austin mayor in favor of closing bars and restaurant dining rooms

[5:00 a.m.] Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt could decide the fate of area bars and restaurants Tuesday. Officials in Dallas and Harris counties shuttered bars and clubs and prohibited restaurants from offering in-person dining Monday. Shortly after, Adler tweeted that he backs those moves and would make an announcement with Eckhardt at 11 a.m. Tuesday. As officials continue tightening measures to slow the new coronavirus' spread, many Texans's job security is being wiped out.

Texas appears to lag other states in testing for new coronavirus

[5:00 a.m.] So far, public and federal labs have tested only 439 people in Texas for the new coronavirus, according to figures released late Monday by the Texas Department of State Health Services. That does not include “hundreds” more tests conducted by private labs, officials said. That presumably leaves the number of Texas tests somewhere north of 700 people, but The Texas Tribune could not pin down officials on a precise count.

But figures provided by DSHS, together with statistics gathered by The COVID Tracking Project, appear to put Texas, the second most populous state, toward the bottom of the country's top five states, depending on which figures for Texas are used. As of late Monday, California had tested at least 8,300 people; New York had tested 7,200; Florida had tested 1,300; and Illinois had tested 1,025, figures show.

Where Texas ultimately lands on the testing spectrum won’t be clear until the dust settles a bit on all the fast-moving coronavirus developments and the reporting of data from states improves. Nationwide, the Trump administration said, almost 2 million tests would be available to some 2,000 labs by the end of this week.

Disclosure: Steve Adler, a former Texas Tribune board chairman, has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.