Austin’s Top News – May 27, 2020

Austin's Top News from News Radio KLBJ

Project Connect plan offers hope

AUSTIN, Texas – As the Austin metro area continues to lose jobs amid the pandemic, some area leaders are using that as a springboard to push for public transit as a solution. By the Austin Chamber of Commerce’s count, the metro has lost more than 129,000 jobs since February. Austin Mayor Steve Adler says this crisis is no reason to delay Capital Metro’s $10 billion Project Connect plan to expand its services.

“If there’s a way for us to actually set this in motion and have some initial approvals in November; I can’t think of a stronger way for us to come out of the virus,” Adler says.

With greater access to transit, more Austinites will have greater access to opportunity. 

COVID-19 continues it’s economic impact

Baylor Scott & White is shedding 1,200 employees, and for some who are not being laid off, pay cuts and furloughs have been ordered. Baylor Scott & White experienced an extremely high drop in patients due to the ban on non-essential procedures, even physician pay is being impacted. 

Recent models predict new surge of coronavirus cases

Austin Public Health is sounding the alarm over COVID-19 again. Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott says Travis County is seeing the number of cases doubling every 28 days, which is good. The most recent models predict another big surge.

“Over the past week or so we’ve been trending in an upward direction,” says Escott. “Our concern is that the upward trend is going to continue.”

He expects people in bars to add to that surge. Escott also predicts another 9-12 months before there’s even the possibility for a vaccine. 

COVID-19 update for Hays, Travis and Williamson counties

115 cases of COVID-19 remain active in Hays County, but 161 have made recoveries. The overwhelming majority of all cases in Hays County have not resulted in a hospital stay. Only 28 people have ever required inpatient care for COVID-19 and only five are hospitalized currently, 

20 more people have made recoveries in Travis County. This morning the total is 1,040. Out of 2,984 confirmed cases of coronavirus since March, 88 have died and 93 are in the hospital. In Williamson County, 334 of the overall 584 cases have recovered and 14 are in the hospital. 56% of Williamson County’s hospital beds remain unused.

The Round Rock Chamber of Commerce will host a webinar for business owners today to help guide them toward the safest ways to get back open. Chamber says the webinar could also benefit property managers, office managers and employees. Registration is required. The webinar gets underway at 10 a.m.

Texas water parks set to reopen

Just in time for the summer temperatures, Texas water parks will be reopening on Friday. That includes Typhoon Texas in Pflugerville where general manager Tyler Weitzel tells KVUE they’re taking all the steps necessary to maintain a clean environment. 

“We’re gonna social distance; we separated our tables, our furniture six feet apart in the park. We have done everything that we can do from a sanitation standpoint,”says Weitzel.

Like other industries that have already reopened, water parks will begin a 25% capacity. The CDC says there’s no evidence coronavirus can spread through the water. 

Elgin bar owner bans mask wearing patrons

An Elgin bar owner puts a controversial spin on the issue of wearing a mask. Kevin Smith with Liberty Tree Tavern tells KXAN they’ve implemented a policy banning anyone from entering who is wearing a mask.

“It’s a pushback against the wannabe snitch patrols and the contact tracers they’re gonna hire,” says Smith, “this is still rural Texas.”

Liberty Tree Tavern is still taking precautions, including social distancing. But Smith says if you feel the need to wear a mask, you should just stay inside until you feel safe to finally come out.

Abbot to hold press conference in Amarillo

Governor Greg Abbott is heading to the Texas Panhandle today for an update from the Texas Surge Response Team. They have been focusing on tamping down the rate of cases found at the Tyson Foods plant there in Amarillo. 

“There are several meatpacking plants up there,” Abbot says, “this led to a high level of coronavirus spread.” 

Amarillo is currently operating at the CDC’s highest level of alert for COVID-19. Abbott will hold a press conference this afternoon at 2 p.m.

This news and more on News Radio KLBJ:


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