WILLIAMSON COUNTY, TX — Five more Williamson County residents died of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours in raising the historical death count to 99, officials revealed on Monday.
The latest to succumb to the respiratory illness for which no vaccine exists were two men in their 70s, another in his 90s and two women in their 80s, health officials said. Provisions under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) preclude the release of further details, officials said.
“Nearly 100 lives in Williamson County have ended too soon due to COVID-19," Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said in a prepared statement. "Dealing with this reality weighs heavy on my heart and reminds me to spend more time reflecting on how to better support our community and the families mourning a loss right now. Part of that support includes keeping those affected in my thoughts and prayers every day."
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The five deaths reported in a 24-hour period ties for the most coronavirus fatalities reported in a single day in Williamson County that was recorded on July 15. Last Thursday, health district officials reported 10 cases for that day, but insisted the numbers represented diagnoses detected between July 15-22 but hadn't been logged due to a "backlog."
Gravell urged residents' adherence to health guidelines designed to blunt the spread of illness, including the wearing of protective face coverings and the tactics of physical distancing. Residents also are urged to practice good hygiene in washing their hands often and/or using antibacterial gel as added protection. People also should avoid touching their face unless their hands are clean.
"As your County Judge, I want to remind you that my commitment and priority are to keep you and your loved ones as safe as possible," Gravell said. "I hope you can stand with me in solidarity by following safety measures to reduce the spread of this deadly disease.”
According to a statistical dashboard maintained by the Williamson County and Cities Health District, Round Rock has had the greatest number of coronavirus fatalities, with a reported 54 fatalities. Georgetown has the second-highest number of deaths with 17. Cedar Park, Hutto and Leander have reported 7, 2 and 1 deaths, respectively.
The dashboard also includes death counts from the sliver of Austin withing the county's jurisdiction, with two deaths. There is also an "other" category for areas in the county with less than 20,000 population and in unincorporated areas, with 11 deaths from those portions of WilCo. A county spokesperson previously explained to Patch that health officials are not able to provide further geographical identifiers for the "other" category given the sparse populations in those areas.
Round Rock also has, far and away, the most reported positive cases of the respiratory illness with 1,759 lab-confirmed cases. Georgetown is second with 950 cases, followed by Cedar Park (573), Hutto (375) and Leander (241). The part of Austin within WilCo jurisdiction has had 322 cases, according to the dashboard data, and another 662 cases have emerged from the "other" unidentified portions of the county.
As of Sunday (Monday figures were unavailable), 115 county residents were hospitalized, including 38 patients being treated at intensive care units.
"All numbers presented are the result of ongoing investigations and thus are provisional and subject to change," health officials wrote on the dashboard. "All reported cases have residence addresses solely within the boundaries of Williamson County. Case counts by day are based on Date of Report unless specified otherwise. Cases may be undergoing treatment in facilities in other counties"
In the same news release disclosing the deaths, the county reminded residents they will no longer send out media notices when coronavirus deaths emerge as they have done from the onset of illness in Williamson County. The practice will end on Aug. 1, officials said.
Instead, residents and members of the media keeping residents apprised of illness developments are directed to the statistics-laden Williamson County and Cities Health District dashboard that is updated daily.
Those with respiratory illness symptoms such as cough, fever, and shortness of breath are urged to contact their health care providers. However, health officials stress the importance of calling ahead before arriving at a clinic, urgent care or emergency department to avoid further spread of the virus.
For information on the county response to COVID-19, visit the Williamson County website.