Austin’s Top News – September 15, 2020

Austin's Top News from News Radio KLBJ

COVID-19 update

In Travis County, the number of people in need of a ventilator has fallen below 20 for the first time in many weeks. As of this morning, 93 people with coronavirus are hospitalized, 34 are in the ICU and 18 are on a ventilator. There were 26,696 recoveries out of the overall 27,776 cases confirmed since March.
Williamson County saw a slight increase across the board for its coronavirus numbers. This morning, the county is reporting 96 active cases. That’s one more than a day ago. 76 people are hospitalized and that’s up by two. There’s been an increase in recoveries, now at 7,997. In total, 8,227 cases have been found.

Round Rock first day on campus

Staying in Williamson County, it’s the first day back on campus for Round Rock students. About 30% are expected to be coming back to the classroom today. Chief of Schools and Innovation Daniel Presley says those who are staying home, will have to wait a while before they can return. 

“That’s a really important thing for our parents to understand. Students who have chosen virtual for the first grading period will remain virtual until the first nine weeks is up,” says Presley.

Any student who has returned to campus can shift back to virtual at any time, though. Personal protective equipment will also be made available on campus.

School start date clarification 

New Austin School District Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde is clarifying the official start date for in-person classes. She says there has been some confusion over which day that actually is.

“Someone thought we would start October sixth because that would be exactly four weeks since we had started on a Tuesday. But we’re starting on Monday, October the fifth, at the beginning of the week,” Elizande says. 

They’re still ironing out the final details of the phase-in plan. Meanwhile, the district is also planning to allow athletic scrimmages and games to resume this fall.

Safety violations in schools

There have been numerous reports of safety violations in Texas schools since in-person learning resumed. Texas State Teachers Association’s Clay Robison says 246 of its members say there has been non compliance with the mask mandate. 

“You can have all the guidelines and all the protocols in place that you want to. But if you don’t enforce them, if you look the other way, yeah, you know it doesn’t do any good,” Robison says.

Another 385 have complained about inadequate social distancing in classrooms. 

Bike lanes on Congress

The Transportation Department is making a permanent change to a part of Congress Avenue. From here on out, bike lanes will be a fixture between Riverside and 11th Street. The lanes were added over the summer to increase social distancing and the city says it may be a month before that work wraps up. 

Austin airport 

In July of last year, 1.5 million people traveled through Austin’s airport. That set a brand new record. This July, though, was a very different story. Airport officials say just over 406,000 passengers flew into and out of Austin for the month. The low point for Austin during the pandemic, is still back in April, when fewer than 48,000 passengers were seen. 

Employee layoffs at Dell

Round Rock based Dell Technology is looking to cut costs during the pandemic. According to Bloomberg, that means an unknown number of employees will be let go. It’s not clear when that may happen, but Dell says the layoffs won’t be limited to any particular division. Across the area, Dell employs more than 6,000 people. 

Ted Cruz rejects Supreme Court offer

Texas Senator John Cornyn has a theory of why Texas Senator Ted Cruz doesn’t want to be on the Supreme Court. After making President Trump’s shortlist for the US Supreme Court last week, Senator Cruz rejected the offer. He said in an interview and tweeted that he was grateful the president had confidence in him, but he wanted to be in the political fight instead of the judiciary, which fits with Senator Cornyn’s theory. 

“You know, I don’t know what his personal ambitions are. I know he obviously ran for president. I think I’ve heard him say he would like to do that again,” says Cornyn.

If Cruz were to change his mind and a position would come open and the president selects him, Senator Cornyn believes the Senate would confirm Cruz.

Netflix show sparks controversy

Controversy continues to swirl over the Netflix series “Cuties”, which involves little girls learning adult themed dance moves some say are far too subject suggestive. Bob Sanborn, with Texas based Children At Risk, finds it very concerning. 

“It’s about a dance contest and they dance. And you know, there’s twerking and stuff going on. What I’ve dealt with in the world of human trafficking, it’s just hard to see some of this stuff,” Sanborn says. 

The term cuties is well known code among human trafficking circles. He says the good news is the growing outrage over this movie is calling new attention to child exploitation. 

This news and more on News Radio KLBJ:


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