Austin Public Health announced the first death of an Austin-Travis County resident due to COVID-19, a chilling local milestone in the global pandemic.
According to officials, the victim was a woman in her 70s with underlying health issues. No other information, including an exact date of death, was given out of respect for her privacy.
“We send our most sincere condolences to the patient’s family and friends,” said Stephanie Hayden, director of Austin Public Health, in a March 27 release. “Everyone must continue to do their part to protect our community and our loved ones.”
Officials used the release to underscore a point about the spread of COVID-19: While the majority of Austin's infected population is under 40, the virus disproportionately kills those 65 and up. According to the Centers for Disease Control, seniors account for about 80 percent of deaths from this novel coronavirus, and underlying or preexisting conditions can accelerate the disease.
Where younger people can help combat COVID-19 is by curbing the spread of the virus. And the best way to do that? Social distancing.
“We are facing a historic public health challenge,” said Dr. Mark Escott, interim medical director of the Austin-Travis County Health Authority. “We underscore the importance of personal responsibility to help stop the spread of this disease. Stay home except for essential activities and follow social distancing guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
As of Friday, March 27, Austin-Travis County recorded 137 cases of COVID-19, a number that can be tracked using this dashboard. According to the CDC, all 50 U.S. states have recorded cases of this coronavirus.
If you are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, which include fever, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea, and loss of smell or taste, call your health provider or use a telehealth virtual visit.