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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Coronavirus in Texas: 1 Year Later

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On March 9th, 2020, a HEADLINE article was published, entitled “CORONAVIRUS IN TEXAS, BY THE NUMBERS.” The article focused on the cancelation of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, illustrating how the decision was influenced by troubling Covid data. The announcement was also remarkable in-terms-of festival legacy–the first cancelation of SXSW in its 34-year history. This SXSW announcement was “the clearest indication yet of the seriousness of Coronavirus (COVID-19).”

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Empty shelves in Austin, Texas. Photo by Brittani Burns. (2020)

HEADLINE compiled Covid-19 data in Texas (as of March 9, 2020), to highlight the deteriorating situation and add some much needed “meat-to-the-bones” of Austin City Hall’s decision to cancel SXSW:

HEADLINE Data from March 9th, 2020

  1. Number of cases reported: 24 total cases of Coronavirus have been reported.
  2. Locations of reported cases: 11 cases were reported in Houston. 1 case reported near Dallas. These and others have been sent to Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio for quarantine. 100 Americans on-board the Grand Princess will also be quarantined at Lackland.
  3. Number of fatalities: No known fatalities of Coronavirus in Texas yet.
  4. Businesses, schools, and events impacted: North Star Mall in San Antonio was shut down for 24 hours. SXSW in Austin was canceled. Rice University in Houston canceled in-person classes. Houston Rodeo on ice after thousands sign a petition to cancel.

an old photo of a large building
6th Street during lockdown in Austin, Texas. (2020)

HEADLINE also provided this grave analysis of the pandemic’s trajectory:

“The Coronavirus will continue to spread, many more will become infected, some will die. The duration and deadliness of Coronavirus are hotly debated at the moment, but consider this sobering possibility: If Coronavirus reaches Swine Flu levels of global penetration (10-20 percent infected), and the Coronavirus fatality rate holds steady or even drops to 2 percent, the death toll would be unimaginable. 50,000 to 5 million American lives could be lost. Globally, the outlook’s even worse—24 to 48 million people could lose their lives if the Coronavirus outbreak continues.”

The article from March 9th, 2020 ended with a dark prediction that left some troubling questions unanswered…

“While these numbers sound far-fetched, the World Health Organization says we are in “uncharted territory.” Regardless of the eventual outcome, critics who dismiss the gravity of the Coronavirus situation are in for a rude awakening as the death toll rises, the stock market falls, and the world economy grinds to a standstill.”

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(Aerial view) U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Disaster Household Distributions at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX. Photo by Lance Cheung. (2020)

What a difference a year can make…

Shortly after the HEADLINE article was published (2020), the world economy did in-fact grind to a standstill. On March 13th, President Trump declared a National Emergency. On March 16th, the Trump Administration announced their “15 Days to Slow the Spread” plan. By the end of March, 3 out of 4 Americans were under some form of lockdown.

a group of people posing for a photo
Governor Greg Abbott met with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on May 7 to discuss the pandemic. (2020)

Aided by often-contradictory patchworks of state and local rules, the Coronavirus spread at an unimaginable rate. Lockdowns, social distancing, mask mandates–nothing proved an effective foil for Covid-19. The pandemic stretched into the summer, then fall, then winter, and warnings of “The Second Wave.” Promises of vaccines were met by enthusiasm, but the slow rollout of “Covid Cocktails” did little to abate the situation.

So where does that leave us now? Where do we stand in Texas today, a year after South by Southwest made the devastating decision to drop the hammer on ATX?

HEADLINE has compiled a new collection of Covid-19 data from across the Lone Star State:

HEADLINE Data from March 17th, 2021

  1. Total Covid-19 cases in Texas: 2,737,763 confirmed cases as of 17 March 2021. That’s in contrast to the 24 cases first reported by HEADLINE in March 2020.
    • 13.33% Positivity rate. (2021)
    • 20,456,710 Total tests. (2021)
  2. Total Covid-19 deaths in Texas: 46,651 total deaths reported (2021) versus zero fatalities from 9 March 2020.
  3. Total Covid-19 vaccinations in Texas: 8,850,377 (2021).
    • Texans fully vaccinated: 2,946,045 (2021)
    • Percent of population: 10.26% (2021)
  4. Major events canceled in Texas since March 2020: South by Southwest, Austin Film Festival, Austin City Limits, Houston Stockshow and Rodeo, San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, the list goes on.

Covid-19 data is compiled from various sources including John Hopkins University and HEADLINE’s own Covid Tracker.

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