Subject: How Is COVID-19 Affecting You?

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Dear Neighbors,

I am writing to invite you to complete a short survey to help me better represent you during this pandemic. I would like to know how you have been affected, what resources you have found helpful, and what gaps exist.

My office and the City are working hard to disseminate valuable information. I hope you will use the survey to share insights that will help us to understand and meet evolving community needs. Please take a few moments to complete the survey, and I encourage you to share it with your neighbors.

Below, I have provided details from today's Council work session, including links to a series of COVID-19 health and economic updates from department directors. You also will find easy instructions for making your own face masks and an alert about the upcoming full park closures (through the holiday weekend). Keep an eye out for a newsletter at the end of the week recapping Council action at this Thursday's meeting.

If you have any immediate needs or questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office at

For those celebrating Passover, I want to wish your families Chag Sameach.

Take Care,

Alison Alter
Council Member, District 10
Table of Contents
  • Council Work Session Presentations
  • New CDC Face Mask Guidelines: How to Make Your Own Face Mask
  • Parks and Recreation Closures
Council Work Session Presentations

Today's Council work session was fully virtual. We heard several very important presentations related to COVID-19. The first set of reports included updates by Interim Health Authority and Public Health Medical Director Dr. Mark Escott and Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden. We also heard from our Homeland Security Management Office Director, Juan Ortiz, and Deputy City Manager Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde on how our emergency operations system is functioning.  

As Chair of the Audit & Finance Committee, I helped frame the second set of presentations which covered the financial impact of the coronavirus on our city. There is good news here. Austin’s financial policies and fiscal health mean we are in a strong position to navigate the economic consequences of the pandemic.

City of Austin Economic Advisor John Hockenyos spoke about the implications for city finances, including employment rate expectations by industry.  Then City Budget Officer Ed Van Eenoo reported on our current financial status, updated projections, and moreWe also received an update on economic recovery efforts from Economic Development Director Veronica BriseñoTo assist businesses in accessing federal and city loan programs, the Economic Development Department has announced a new website and has assigned staff to serve as case managers.

I encourage you to view the slides – available only for the economic reports linked above – and follow along with the video of each presentation. You can watch the work session on the ATXN Archive (which will be posted shortly).
New CDC Face Mask Guidelines: How to Make Your Own Face Mask

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Austin-Travis County began recommending the use of fabric face coverings by the general public when conducting essential activities or essential business outside of their residence. These efforts are intended to further slow the spread of COVID-19.

You can make your own mask with common household items! Scarves or bandanas are easy items that can serve as a face covering. Plenty of do-it-yourself plans are also available online including guidance from the CDC and guidance from Austin Public Health.

For easy instructions on homemade masks, check out the City's COVID-19 website or watch this video from Mayor Adler with a quick 60-second tutorial. I never imagined taking crafting lessons from Mayor Adler, but following his video I made my first face covering/mask! I didn't have rubber bands so I used hair ties instead.

NOTE: It is critical to understand that a face covering does not substitute for the need to maintain physical distancing and the Stay Home-Work Safe Order. Face coverings, combined with physical distancing, may further decrease the risk of spread. Find more guidelines for face masks here. 
Easter Weekend Parks and Recreation Closures

All City of Austin parks and trails will close during the Easter weekend to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The closure goes into effect at sunset, Thursday, April 9 and goes through sunrise, Monday, April 13.

This closure includes all city parks, trails, greenbelts and preserves – which includes the Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Bike Trail. Residents can view the Parks and Recreation Department's (PARD) parkviewer app – if the greenspace is listed, it is closed for the holiday weekend.

Signage, gate closure and regular patrols will remind the community of the park closures. Park Rangers will continue to educate and push for compliance by the public. 

The City of Austin and the Parks and Recreation Department is implementing this change to ensure the safety of the community. PARD historically sees an increase in visitors during the Easter holiday. However, crowding in parks makes it challenging for visitors to comply with the physical distancing requirements issued with the Stay Home-Work Safe Order.

Park green space and trails will reopen at sunrise, Monday, April 13.

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