Subject: Important COVID-19 Update

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Dear Neighbors,

Our COVID-19 numbers are moving in the wrong direction, and we need to act now to stop the spread. This was the clear takeaway from Monday’s special called council meeting, where we were briefed about the COVID-19 pandemic in Austin.

To ensure the health and safety of our city, it is incredibly important for Austinites to stay home when possible, social distance, and wear masks whenever you are in public. What we do as a community in the next few weeks will make the difference in flattening the curve or moving towards new Stay at Home orders.

Dr. Mark Escott provided updated data on the number of positive cases, hospitalizations, and detailed demographic breakdowns of the virus in Austin, and we’re seeing distressing trends:
  • Over this past weekend, we saw over 700 new cases.
  • The seven day moving average has increased 372% since the beginning of June.
  • Hospitals have seen a 400% increase in new admissions since June 1st.
You can see his full presentation here.

Currently in Austin our hospitals have beds available for COVID and non-COVID patients and Dr. Escott is advising that people do NOT need to avoid emergency or preventative care right now. We must nonetheless recognize that our system capacity and the health of our community moving forward will be determined by whether we can change our trajectory in the coming weeks through social distancing, wearing masks, and protecting the most vulnerable.

Disease spread is now concentrated in the 20-40 year old age group. And while this age cohort may to date have experienced fewer fatalities, we know that COVID-19 does not manifest itself as a simple cold or flu and can lead to irreversible damage and lifelong impacts for those who survive - even among the younger cohort.

If you are waiting for test results, please self-isolate immediately to help prevent the disease from spreading. This includes isolating from other family members. If you cannot self-isolate in a room with its own bathroom, if there are members of your household who are at higher risk for serious illness, or if a member of your household is an essential worker, you should call the City’s Isolation Facility at 512-810-7554 to make arrangements for free accommodation during the infection period. Note: Austin Public Health has revised their testing prioritization due to increasing demand for free tests- if you can obtain a test through your health insurance, please do so.

On Monday Austin Public Health leadership also updated the Council on the department’s efforts to combat the coronavirus, including increased coordination with entities around the state, new strategies to reach at-risk populations, and ongoing work to support childcare needs.

Dr. Lauren Meyers from the UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium shared modeling for COVID-19 positive cases and hospitalizations depending on the enactment of certain policies and community behavior changes.

The video of the presentations by Dr. Escott, APH, and Dr. Meyers are available to view here along with any accompanying slide decks.

For more information about COVID-19 in Austin, including the two dashboards and other resources, visit the city’s COVID-19 page.

As we head into Independence Day weekend, I’d like to remind folks that the safest place for you to be is at home if you can. Both the City and Travis County have announced a closure of public parks this upcoming weekend. Please be mindful of social distancing if you must leave your home.

I know the crisis and the amount of information (including above) can be overwhelming. Here’s the takeaway: We all need to do our part to keep our community safe so we can slow the transmission of the virus and avoid the need for an extended lockdown.

Stay safe,
Alison Alter

Credit: US Hispanic Contractors Association
Table of Contents
  • Independence Day Weekend City/County Park Closures
  • Updated COVID-19 Guidelines
  • COVID-19 Assistance Funds Applications Open July 7
  • Austin Public Health Community Forum 
  • How to Help Campaign & AISD Meal Assistance
  • Drive a Senior West Austin - Call for Volunteers
  • Family Friendly Workplace - Encotech
  • July 14th Election Information
  • Loop 360 Virtual Workshop July 8-23
  • Bull Creek Park Construction
  • Summer Irrigation and Watering Schedule
  • Austin Public Library Virtual Summer Reading Program
Independence Day Weekend City/County Park Closures

Prompted by an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the City of Austin will close all parks and recreational facilities from Friday, July 3 through Sunday, July 5. This includes all City parks, as well as recreational facilities (e.g. golf courses, tennis courts, boat ramps, recreation/cultural centers, museums, Austin Nature & Science Center, Zilker Botanical Garden, preserves, etc). All pre-paid park admission passes will be credited to the park patron’s account or refunded.

Effective Tuesday, June 30, Austin Public Health has recommended the closure of Barton Springs Pool and Deep Eddy Pool until further notice. Existing pool reservations will be cancelled. Austin Public Health will evaluate both facilities. Chlorinated pool facilities will continue to operate according to their posted schedules.

Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe has recommended all local governments cancel publicly sponsored events and close public spaces in advance of the 4th of July weekend in order to discourage social gatherings and therefore discourage spread of COVID-19. In response to this request, Travis County Parks will close all parks in its system starting Thursday, July 2, 2020 at 8 p.m. and re-open on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 at 8 a.m. Should the threat of COVID-19 continue to rise, the park system may remain closed beyond this date until further notice. 
Updated COVID-19 Guidelines 

Austin Public Health has established risk based guidelines for the public to better assess their risk and what actions they should take under the current conditions that we are seeing in the community. These guidelines can be viewed here

Please visit the key indicators for staging dashboard to see the metrics APH is looking at to establish the risk. To accommodate for updated information regarding hospital capacity and current data, one of the primary indicators on Austin Public Health’s (APH) Risk-Based Guidelines chart has been adjusted.

The chart illustrates the key indicators for moving between risk stages. The changes were made to the “Recommended thresholds: 7-day moving average of new hospital admissions” part of the chart. Along with hospital capacity, the revisions also account for average length of hospital stay, which changes daily.

We are currently in Stage 4, which means an average of 40-(70-123) new COVID-19 hospital admissions in the MSA in a 7-day period

At all times and levels, APH continues to urge the community to continue:
  • Practice social distancing 
  • Wear fabric face coverings in public 
  • Cover coughs and sneezes 
  • Wash hands often 
  • Avoid touching your face 
  • Clean commonly-touched surfaces
COVID-19 Assistance Fund Applications Open July 7

On July 7, applications for the Small Business and Nonprofit (CLEAR/ANCHOR) relief grants open. These funds were created in a resolution I authored with colleagues in May.

Small business applicants may apply for up to $40,000 toward their business needs including rent, payroll and other economic needs. The Austin Small Business Relief Grant application will be live and accepting eligible submissions through the Austin Better Business Bureau starting on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 at 10:00am.

Non-profit applicants may apply for one-time grants up to $20,000 toward reimbursement of eligible expenses including rent, payroll, and other economic needs.

Additional information and eligibility requirements are available here.
Austin Public Health Community Forum: 
Accessing Services During COVID-19

If you missed Austin Public Health's virtual community forum earlier this week, the recorded event is available below and on their Facebook page. I encourage you to take a look if you have questions on how to access services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How to Help Campaign

Looking for safe and effective ways to help our community during COVID-19? The City of Austin created a How to Help hub with opportunities to volunteer with or donate to local organizations providing help and assistance to Austinites impacted by the pandemic. With your support our community will stay healthy, safe, and connected. 

Visit the Keep AISD Kids Fed campaign directly to help feed 1400 children next week. As of Monday, they are almost halfway to their goal with three days left.

Spread the word, learn more, and offer your help at the How to Help campaign
Drive a Senior - Call for Volunteers

Drive A Senior West Austin seeks volunteers for three opportunities: 

Reassurance calls: These callers help connect clients to resources in the community, and often times to the food pantry delivery program.

Senior Sidekicks: For various reasons, home-bound aging adults have many barriers to accessing regular healthy food options. Now that it is unsafe for seniors to visit grocery stores, Drive a Senior is giving them the support necessary to shop and eat with dignity and safety. This program will allow Drive a Senior to pair one volunteer with one client to assist them with grocery needs.

DriversEven though it is safest for seniors to remain at home, some still need to get to the doctor and treatment centers. Drive a Senior has provided drivers and clients with protocols that keep them as safe as possible while getting to the doctor, and they need more drivers to help serve clients.

You may learn more or apply for any of these opportunities by emailing Drive a Senior at or by calling them at 512-472-6339.

Family Friendly Workplace Highlight: Encotech

Family-Friendly ATX is designed to help employers explore the benefits of family-friendly workplaces, assess current business practices, identify opportunities for potential change, and connect employees with local resources. To accomplish this work, Early Matters Greater Austin published the Family-Friendly Workplace Toolkit. This guide acts as a resource for both the employer and their employees. 

In addition to the Toolkit, employers are encouraged to participate in a Family-Friendly '“Self-Study." This self-study process helps employers understand the benefits of being a “family-friendly” workplace, assess current policies and practices, identify opportunities for change, and connects them with helpful resources.

District 10-owned business Encotech Engineering Consultants is proud to be a family-friendly workplace. Ali Khataw, CEO of Encotech, is a firm believer in the benefits of creating an inclusive and family-friendly work environment. He hosts events such as Bring Your Child to Work Day and participates in CEO for the Day, an annual mentorship program for Dobie Middle School students.

Election Day: July 14th

The Primary Runoff and Special Election is scheduled for July 14, 2020. The early voting period runs from June 29, 2020 to July 10, 2020. The polls will be closed on July 3rd and 4th in observance of the Fourth of July Holiday. 

For more information on the election, including polling locations and how to become an election worker, visit the County Clerk's website.

To familiarize yourself with the Travis County voting systems, watch the video below.
Loop 360 Virtual Workshop

TxDOT is hosting a virtual workshop for the Loop 360 from MoPac to RM 2244 project. The Loop 360 from MoPac to RM 2244 project is a new project that combines improvements for Walsh Tarlton Lane, Westbank Drive and Lost Creek Boulevard.

The workshop will be held online from Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at 10 a.m., to Thursday, July 23, 2020 at 5 p.m. You can find the workshop and more information regarding Loop 360 on the Loop 360 Program website.
Bull Creek District Park Improvements

Construction has begun at Bull Creek District Park as of June 23, 2020. For the next two weeks, the parking lots will be closed while construction work is ongoing. Improvements will be made on the trail, the picnic areas, and the bathroom. More information is available on the project website.
Summer Irrigation and Watering Schedule

With summer upon us, Austin Water is currently in Conservation Stage Water Restrictions. Find your watering day(s) based on your address

You may water only on your assigned day(s) and times. Residential restrictions are as follows:
  • Hose-end Sprinklers - ​two days per week - midnight to 10 a.m. and/or 7 p.m. to midnight
  • Automatic Irrigation - one day per week - midnight to 10 a.m. and/or 7 p.m. to midnight (Residential customers may also water a second day with a hose-end sprinkler)
APL Virtual Summer Reading Program

This summer the Austin Public Library invites you to join them virtually for the Summer Reading Program “Hack Your Summer.” Escape the quarantine blues and get inspired with reading challenges, craft ideas, new video content and more.

They've got a variety to challenges to keep you busy June through July. Pick a challenge that interests you and once you’ve completed it, submit it to the Challenge Completion Log. You can complete as many of the challenges as you’d like. Share them online and tag APL on Instagram @austinpubliclibrary with the hashtag #APLTeens.

Then make sure to cast your vote for which ridiculous stunt you’d like to see the librarians perform on video for APL+!

If you have any questions or if anything doesn’t work for you, contact APL through Ask a Librarian or calling 512- 974-7400. Make sure to check out our Teen Information Guide for more resources.

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