Austin’s Top News – August 12, 2020

Austin's Top News from News Radio KLBJ

New Austin Superintendent Stephanie Elizande

The Austin school board officially extends a contract to Stephanie Elizande to become the new superintendent. Elizande says she’s hopeful she’ll be able to make some positive changes across the district. 

“I don’t take this lightly. I know there are big shoes to fill, and there are huge expectations,” says Elizande.

Outgoing Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz will officially vacate his post on August 31 for a new job with you. Elizande will reportedly make $325,000 a year.

In the Dripping Springs school district, a majority of families are ready to get kids back in the classroom. The district says 95% of families have responded to a recent survey and about 60% want on-campus learning. First day of school for the district is August 18. It’s plan is to begin on campus learning on September 14th.

COVID-19 update

After some slight upward movement Travis County’s number of hospitalized patients in the ICU is now below 100 again. 279 patients in total are hospitalized and 98 of those require I see you treatment. Over the course of the past five months, 23,249 cases have been discovered. As of today, the number of recoveries is nearing 22,000. 

Williams County’s latest active case count has climbed upward again, now at 1,279. There are 76 people in the hospital currently, and that is increase of six from a day ago. 5,637 people have recovered. That’s a jump upward of 45 from the same time yesterday. Williamson County is addressing the sizable spike in cases it’s been seeing. Within a week’s time, more than 660 new cases were added. But that may not be the cause for alarm, that appears to be on the surface. The county says much of that’s actually tied to a backlog and test results from the state lab dating back as far as June.

Going back to work after COVID recovery

Austin businesses are working on getting their staff back in offices and workspaces. Alternate Health Authority Dr. Jason Pickett says some bosses are requiring those who’ve recovered from COVID-19 to test negative twice before returning. Dr. Pickett says that’s excessive and there is a better way. 

“That the employee is well, meaning it’s been at least 10 days since their symptoms started, and it’s been at least 24 hours where they have not had any fever. And this is assuming also that their symptoms are getting better,” says Pickett.

After all that, that patient is recovered and can return to work. The problem with testing recovered cases is they have seen folks test positive months after recovering. 

City leaders push towards mail-in ballots for the elderly

Older adults remain the most at risk of serious complications from coronavirus. Because of that, Travis County Commissioner Jeff Trevelyan is making a push to have mail-in ballots automatically sent to every voter at least 65 years old. 

“These are our most vulnerable populations. I think it’s important that we make sure we keep them as safe as possible,” says Trevelyan.

Austin Public Health officials seem to agree, saying Travis County seniors must be “cocooned.” The county will consider the cost and whether it’s possible to get all of the ballots sent out in time for the election. 

Ora Houston critiques Austin budget cuts

The Austin City Council is now poised to slash at least 1/3 of the police department’s budget. A former council member is warning her former colleagues about the repercussions of that decision. Ora Houston tells KVUE that much of the community does not support this. 

“When you take money from the police, perhaps some unintended consequences when we don’t take the time to think it through,” says Houston.

She formerly represented the district currently being represented by Natasha Harper-Madison. Houston says community members she has spoken to want more cops out on the street and not less.

Abortion related services in Austin’s budget

In the upcoming City of Austin, budget mortgage tax dollars may be used to cover services related to abortion. According to the Statesman, the council is trying to circumvent state law that forbids local governments from funding abortions. After spending $150,000 this year for things like transportation to and from clinics. Another $100,000 may be added to that for next year.

Austin traveler count dropping

The numbers still don’t look good when it comes to the number of travelers who are making their way through Austin. Officials say in June, only 292,000 people made their way in and out of Austin’s airport. That’s a very steep drop of about 82% from just one year ago.

This news and more on News Radio KLBJ:



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