Austin’s Top News – October 15, 2020

Austin's Top News from News Radio KLBJ

Austin Public Health issues warnings

Austin Public Health is handing out warnings and citations to businesses now running afoul of COVID-19 regulations. While Travis County bars can’t reopen yet some are still operating with workarounds. APH’s Stephanie Hayden says the department is keeping an eye out for offenders and crowds. 

“We’re going to start to monitor how folks are queuing. It is important for us to get the message out to individuals about making sure that you are 6 feet away from others as you are queuing to enter into these sites,” says Hayden.

Hayden says for many of the businesses part, many are aware and compliant with the distancing and masking orders. 

Bars remain closed

Travis County bar owners say they feel completely deflated after County Judge Sam Biscoe ruled they couldn’t open. President of the Texas Bar Nightclub Alliance Michael Klein tells KVUE Governor Abbott didn’t really do bars many favors by leaving the decision up to county judges. 

“I don’t know if he realizes these people’s lives and their employees and their businesses. It just seems like the seriousness in which the death penalty that he’s imposing on our businesses has not been respected,” says Klein.

He says bars were given a false sense of hope last week when the governor teased his plan to let them open.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler agrees that bars shouldn’t be opened up. San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and El Paso also agree. But with so many bars within Austin, Adler says the city is working with the Chamber of Commerce to find tangible ways to get them open up in the near future. 

“Part of figuring out how to open up bars, it’s gonna be to figure out what we do with people outside while they’re queuing. I would hate for us not to be able to open up bars because people outside waiting to get in are all lumped together,” says Adler.

Austin Public Health will revisit this decision on letting bars open in about two weeks. 

COVID-19 update

Travis County is reporting 780 active cases of COVID today. That has increased somewhat over the week. 89 of those cases require hospitalization. That number remained relatively flat. The county has confirmed a total of 30,061 cases since March and 29,379 are recoveries. 

Williamson County’s active case count has climbed up to 202 over the past day. It’s an increase of about 20. Much like in Travis County, Williamson County’s COVID hospitalizations have stayed pretty flat this week. 25 people are in the hospital today. That’s down from 26 yesterday. 9,074 cases are confirmed and 8,727 are recoveries.

SAVES resolution vote

City Council will likely vote today on the SAVES resolution that would pump $15 million into daycares, music venues and legacy businesses. Funding has been a challenge so the city could authorize $8.5 million in sales tax revenue to be used, along with more than $3.5 million from revenue generated by fees within the Transportation Department. 

Rapid antigen test in schools

Governor Greg Abbott has rolled out a new pilot program for rapid testing of COVID-19 in schools. A rapid antigen test will be administered to students, teachers and staff who participate initially in eight school systems throughout the state. Governor Abbott teased the program back in August. 

“We do have additional test based companies working to bring strategies online that could dramatically increase the number of tests that are run on a daily basis,” says Abbott.

Schools enrolled in the program will also receive personal protective equipment to administer the rapid tests, which are expected to produce results within 15 minutes. Schools can apply for the program through the Texas Education Agency. 

Of the school districts in Texas taking part in the new COVID-19 rapid test pilot, one is right here in the Austin area. The Granger district in Williamson County is among those eight districts across the state chosen for the program.

Early voting continues

Travis County’s turnout for early voting on day one was huge, with about 36,000 people showing up at the polls. However County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir says day two of early voting was even bigger. A total of 38,119 people turned up to cast a ballot on the second day. Early voting continues through October 30th.

UT school song controversy 

As controversy grows over the UT school song, The Eyes of Texas, athletic director Chris Del Conte now says he expects all players to stand together as a unified group when it’s being played. This past Saturday, only one player remained on the field as the song played. Head football coach Tom Herman says he’ll encourage players to but he won’t force them if they don’t want to. 

This news and more on News Radio KLBJ:


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