Austin’s Top News – January 8, 2021

Austin's Top News from News Radio KLBJ

Legislature called to look into Ken Paxton

There is now a call for the state Legislature to look into whether or not Texas attorney General Ken Paxton may have played a role in the unrest this week at the US Capitol. When the Legislature gavels in on Tuesday, State House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner is calling on lawmakers to hold Attorney General Paxton accountable. First for fueling conspiracy theories about the election through his four state Supreme Court lawsuit, then Paxton’s role in Wednesday’s White House rally.

“Giving a speech, to that crowd and talking about how we need to continue to fight and we’re going to keep fighting. And then within a few hours, that same crowd is down the street storming the Capitol,” Turner is calling for an investigation.

How to reconnect the left and right

Some people are trying to figure out a way to reconnect the political left and right. However, political science professors say the left and right just really don’t like each other anymore and don’t respect each other. Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Dr. Kevin Roberts says the fix for that starts with your neighbors. 

“It starts in our homes. Let us pledge this weekend, each of us to go out and shake hands and introduce ourselves to someone we might not have, because we have a difference of opinion politically,” says Roberts.

That done millions of times over will bring the country out of the stupor this week is brought on.

COVID-19 update

While COVID hospitalizations have kept climbing this week in Travis County, the past couple of days have seen the total rise a bit more slowly. Right now, there are 573 people hospitalized. That’s an increase of only four from a day ago. The big increase, though, has been seen in active cases, which have jumped by 515 in the past day. Now standing at 5,616 there have been an overall total of 54,814 cases found, resulting in 48,633 recoveries. 

146 fewer active cases of coronavirus are being reported this morning in Williamson County than just one day ago. Right now, that number stands at 1,817 out of the overall total of 23,160 confirmed. The counties also now recorded more than 21,100 recoveries. 163 people are hospitalized, and that is an increase of five.

Convention Center for COVID patients

The Austin Convention Center looks like it will soon be put to use as a spillover site for recovering coronavirus patients. Dr. John Abikhaled, with the Travis County Medical Society, tells CBS Austin there’s a real concern about staffing so they’re issuing a call for doctors and nurses from elsewhere to step in and help. 

“If we got 10 or 20 or 30 volunteers that would make a difference that would be helpful,” says Abikhaled. 

Despite a strong belief among Austin Public Health that the convention center will be needed very soon, possibly by next week, no official request has yet been made to begin its operations. 

Vaccination process 

More than three dozen state lawmakers have banded together, pleading with Governor Greg Abbott to smooth out the vaccination roll out process. Austin State Representative Vikki Goodwin tells KXAN she wants to know why the state hasn’t made it clear enough who could get vaccinated and when.

“Why are we hearing stories about people getting it when they don’t fall in the categories that have been spelled out, phase 1A or phase 1B?” says Goodwin.

The letter signed by Goodwin and 37 other democrats is asking Abbott not only to clarify the situation but also prioritize teachers, daycare workers, food workers and grocery employees whenever distribution plans are being made. 

Phase 1A vaccinations are underway now in Bastrop County. Almost 1,000 people have gotten their first dose, and at least two are said to have gotten both of their shots already. The county is focusing on hospital staff and other health care workers, as well as firefighters and other first responders. 

COVID variant found in Texas

It was likely only a matter of time that a new coronavirus variant first found in the UK recently wound up here in Texas. Officials this week say that the first case has now been found. While the variant is considered to be more infectious, it is not thought to be any more or less deadly nor resistant to vaccines. The state says the case in Harris County involves a man with no travel history.

New cadet class

As Austin City leaders have been sworn in this week, one returning member is hinting when they think the police academy may restart. Back to represent the city’s District 7, council member Leslie Pool, who’s taking note of the work being made on policing.

“Our city’s reimagining public safety effort is making important progress. And I anticipate that we will be truly ready for a new cadet class immediately following this fiscal year,” says Pool. 

The fiscal year ends in September. City Council will have its first official meeting January 27.

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