Austin’s Top News – October 19, 2020

Austin's Top News from News Radio KLBJ

COVID-19 update

Hospitalizations are now back up into the triple digits for Travis County, with an even 100 people in the hospital this morning. There’s also been some increase to the ICU bed usage and ventilators. 839 cases are considered to be active out of the 30,956 cases confirmed since March. 29,672 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Travis County. 

Active COVID cases in Williamson County climb up to 226 people are hospitalized this morning. That’s up from the 22 at this time on Friday morning. Since the pandemic began, Williamson County’s confirmed 9,137 cases and 8,790 of those are recoveries. 

Westlake High School has a COVID outbreak, and that’s led to the shutdown of the football team. The Eanes Independent School District is suspending football practice at Westlake High School after a combined four students and staffers tested positive for COVID-19. District staff say they’re going to follow Austin Public Health’s guidance and shut down the football program for one week. School staffers are also conducting a deep clean of the athletic facilities starting today. 

New grading period in Round Rock

The Round Rock school district begins a new grading period today, which means kids who want to return to campus can do so. Chief of Schools and Innovation Dr. Daniel Presley says middle and high schoolers will begin moving into other classrooms today, mostly for extracurricular classes.

“Traditionally, elementary students are in pretty much the same classroom all day, except when they go to specials. Where it looks very different has been the middle schools and the high schools,” Presley says. 

Most high schoolers, though, won’t be returning. 86% have chosen to remain virtual. November 9 is the district’s target date for return to mostly normal operations. 

2020 elections

Travis County voters continue to turn out in droves to cast their ballots. County Clerk Dana Debeauvoir tells CBS Austin that by all indications, this will be a record breaking year once the election is over. 

“It’s certainly breaking the records for the 2016 presidential election, and I don’t anticipate that it’s going to narrow down or calm down very much,” says Dana Debeauvoir.

Almost 200,000 ballots have been cast in the county already, including nearly 41,000 of them on Friday. 

A majority of Texans say they won’t trust the results of the election regardless of who wins. 

“60% of Texans can’t simply tell us-yes, I’ll trust the outcome of the presidential election,” says Jim Henson of the Texas Politics Project. “It’s hard to look at that as anything but bad news for a system that has always been about people trusting the outcome.”

When it’s broken down into specific threats to election integrity, the latest poll shows both Republicans and Democrats are united on one thing: the impact of social media. 

“Texans expect that there’s a lot of misinformation that it has a negative political impact on the election environment,” says Henson.

Cap Metro

Capital Metro has a new electric bus charging station as it moves toward an all electric fleet. Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea says that’s a transition that can’t happen soon enough. 

“I mean, how many people have been standing along the street when a diesel bus goes by and there’s a giant cloud of diesel exhaust? We are eliminating that,” says Shea.

Cap Metro’s board of directors approved a $7.5 million construction contract for the facility last year, and can charge up to 175 busses. Cap Metro has a long range vision of buying 71 electric busses for its fleet. 

Lagoon project in Leander

There’s a lot of buzz over the upcoming Leander Springs Developments. It’s a $1 billion project that will have retail, offices and restaurants in the giant blue lagoon. Mayor Troy Hill tells FOX 7 it still has to win final approval from council.

“We think that probably if it does pass council on December 3 that we’re probably looking at June of 21 to start construction on the logo,” Hill says. 

Leander is growing by 12% every year.

Rifle resistant armor for APD

Governor Greg Abbott says $296 million in grant funding is being handed out to law enforcement agencies across the state, some of which will be used for purchasing new rifle resistant body armor. The Austin Police Department will get $310,000 of that. APD has been calling for more rifle resistant armor for several years.

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