Austin’s Top News – July 13, 2020

Austin's Top News from News Radio KLBJ

City leaders discuss Austin budget

Later today, we’ll get a better idea of how the City of Austin plans to spend your tax dollars next year. This city manager is set to release the proposed budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison is looking forward to the following budget talks and how that may impact APD’s future.

“Really looking forward to digging into what exactly we intend to do to reach this place of transformation. I think we all recognize that we’re on the precipice of big change. Really positive big change,” Harper-Madison says.

Through the budget talks, Harper-Madison believes council will improve the quality of lives for local police officers by focusing their efforts on certain emergency calls.

COVID-19 update

Travis County reports 434 coronavirus patients in hospital beds this morning. That’s six fewer than Friday morning. 169 people have died. By the end of the day, the county will likely surpass an overall total of 15,000 confirmed cases since March. Right now, about 11,300 of those are people who have made recoveries, that number should climb much higher by the end of today.

Hays County’s total number of COVID-19 hospitalizations climb by two over the weekend, with 22 people currently using a hospital bed for treatment. 2,889 cases remain active. 655 people have recovered. About 14,400 tests have been performed since March, and about 3,600 have come back positive.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler says the hospitalizations spike we’ve seen so far may not have been as bad as predicted, but we’re not out of the woods just yet. He tells CBS Austin, the convention center should be ready to act as a field hospital within one week from today.

“It’s going to open and be available to open if we need it, about July 20. My hope is, we don’t need it on that day,” says Adler.

He also says he’s hopeful the city will get some additional help from doctors and nurses outside of Austin. They also may talk with the Austin school district about pushing back the start of the new school year. 

AISD details new school year plans

The Austin Independent School District is out with new details on what parents and students can expect for the new year. Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz says classes will have to be 100% in-class or 100% online. But either way, the district will synchronize the curriculum as best as possible. 

“Language arts, math, science, social studies, expectations around physical education, and also you see social-emotional learning,” says Cruz.

Buses will run students to and from campus with no more than 14 kids on any bus at any given time. 

The search for the next superintendent for AISD has been narrowed down to six out of the initial 64 applicants. Outgoing Superintendent Paul Cruz announced back in February that he would be taking a position with the University of Texas. He has been in that role since 2015 and almost every year he has seen enrollment dwindle while he’s been at the helm. 

Austin medical provider asks city for reimbursements 

Baylor Scott & White Expected will spend more than $4 million in the Austin area just on COVID-19 by the end of December. Director of Community Development Ann-Marie Price says their costs seem to go up every day. 

“Additional security, staffing for testing, signage, supplies, visitor management systems, temperature monitoring, PPE,” says Price.

The hospital system is asking Travis County for $810,000 in reimbursements for expenses between March and May. Price estimates the nation’s hospitals will spend a combined $323 billion. 

Remdesivir continues to show promise 

There is some good news out of Baylor Scott & White regarding the use of the antiviral drug remdesivir. Speaking with FOX 4 in Dallas, Dr. David Gottlieb says the drugs continued showing incredible promise in terms of increasing the survivability rate.

“Remdesivir decreased your odds of passing away from COVID-19 by about 62%,” says Gottlieb.

He says studies have shown that patients need only half the dose that was originally thought. That means twice as many people could be treated with the same supply. Just last week, Austin got 28 cases of remdesivir.

San Marcos testing site 

Through Thursday, walk-up testing is available at Rattler Stadium on the San Marcos High School campus. Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra says they started the testing over the weekend. 747 of them were done just yesterday. They are using swabs from the tongue and cheek instead of going deep into the nasal cavity. The site will be operating from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. each day.

This news and more on News Radio KLBJ:


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