Austin’s Top News – August 10, 2020

Austin's Top News from News Radio KLBJ

Protests continue in Austin 

After months of being vilified by protesters, Austin police garner local support over the weekend during a rally held at police headquarters called Silent No More. Luis Rodriguez was among those supporters and tells CBS Austin people are sick of the rhetoric.

“We decided, you know, the silent majority will stay silent no more. You know, we the people have had enough,” says Rodriguez.

There was a counter rally held in which people repeatedly shouted, “blue lives don’t matter.” Several of those protesters wound up in handcuffs. However, police say both demonstrations were, for the most part, peaceful. 

Million dollar transit bond

The Austin City Council has given the go ahead for a multi million dollar transit bond to now be on the November ballot. Mayor Steve Adler says this overhaul would reflect the city’s “values and priorities” and would provide millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for things going beyond just buses and trains.

“We outlined real meaningful investments, including $300 million for affordable housing,” says Adler.

Estimates say it will cost the average homeowner an extra $276 a year. Many critics say that’s a lot to ask of taxpayers at a time in which thousands are jobless.

Austin’s economy could be finding its feet now

The Dallas Federal Reserve’s Judy Teng says the Austin unemployment rate is improving. 

“The Austin unemployment rate fell to a still elevated 6.4% in June, and this is the lowest of all major metros in Texas. The jobless rate ticked down to 8.6% in Texas and 11.1% in the nation,” says Teng.

Looking at credit and debit card usage, Teng says area consumer spending made it a deposit of growth territory and surpassed January’s mount by 3%. The Fed shows the metro’s business cycle index grew by 65% but still remains below pre-COVID levels at 193 points. 

The new school year begins

This week, a small number of local school districts will begin the new year. That includes Leander, Lago Vista, Pflugerville and Thrall. The first few weeks for all of them will be online only. In Leander, after three weeks, a student can choose to return to campus. Thrall will offer a hybrid option. Pflugerville and Lago Vista will offer in-person classes beginning September 9th. For students who have requested that option.

The University Interscholastic League has laid some groundwork for what to do if a student athlete tests positive for COVID-19. UIL committee chair Dr. Jesse DeLee says keeping kids safe while letting them participate poses a lot of challenges. 

“We’re not in the business of practicing medicine, we’re in the business of setting guidelines for the local school districts to manage their athletes,” says DeLee.

The students who do test positive will have to be cleared by a physician before being allowed to return to the field. This will apply to football players, members of the cheer squad band and more. 5A and 6A schools can start with mandatory helmets on at all times on September 7. 

COVID-19 update

For the first time in weeks, fewer than 100 COVID patients in Travis County hospitals are in the ICU. There were a total of 278 people in the hospital, currently. That’s a drop of about 20 from Friday morning and 98 of those are people in the ICU. There have been 22,724 confirmed cases since March and 21,307 recoveries. 

The number of active coronavirus cases in Williamson County has climbed a bit over the weekend, but so has the number of recoveries. 6,245 total cases found and 668 are still active. 52 of those active cases involve someone currently in the hospital. 5,577 people have recovered. That marks a jump upward of about 220 since the same time on Friday morning. 

The city of Georgetown has set aside almost a millions dollars to help people pay utility bills. City says up to $1,500 will be provided on a first come, first serve basis through the COVID-19 customer assistance program. A resident must be able to show they have been financially impacted by the pandemic.

Latest ruling on moratoriums 

One of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s latest rulings could be felt here in Austin. He says city councils and commissioners courts lacked the authority to spend provision within the property code related to evictions. He says only Governor Abbott can legally extend the moratorium on evictions. Both Austin and Travis County did recently extend their moratoriums through September 30.

This news and more on News Radio KLBJ:


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