Austin’s Top News – October 21, 2020

Austin's Top News from News Radio KLBJ

COVID-19 update

The upward motion continues for Travis County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations, with another 14 added over the past day. The county says 118 people are in the hospital this morning. Since March 31,159 cases have been confirmed. Of those, 849 are currently active and 29,862 of them are recoveries.

New cases in Travis County are still being seen mostly among teenagers and young adults. Austin Mayor Steve Adler says people between age 40-49 have also been seeing more infections pretty steadily over the past several weeks. 

“This could be some folks giving it in school. It’s not in the classroom, extracurricular activities may be bringing it home. Families sharing at barbecues or across the fence or getting together for dinner,”says Adler.

Currently, the 40-49 age group is seeing the second highest number of new cases of COVID.

Virus data for Williamson County has not been updated for the past couple of days due to what officials say are reporting inconsistencies. The Texas Health Trace COVID reporting system flagged the issue earlier this week because some data wasn’t included on the county dashboard between October 17-19. State says it is working with a software developer to find a quick solution. 

Pandemic fatigue

Some local health officials believe pandemic fatigue may be helping build these COVID numbers. Austin Area Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott says residents have grown tired of the COVID rules and are cutting loose. He sees that in the growing COVID numbers, noting UT Health reports show there is now a near 90% chance that the local pandemic is getting worse. 

“This disease hasn’t changed. What’s changed is us and the fact that we have that pandemic fatigue. It’s happening and now is the time for us to be vigilant again,” says Escott.

Escott says area residents must do their part to reduce COVID transmissions.

Austin unemployment numbers

A new Austin Chamber of Commerce report is shedding some light on the unemployment rate. Beverly Kerr with the Austin Chamber says between the months of August and September, three industries lost a lot of jobs. 

“Construction and natural resources sector is down a little less than 2,000 jobs. And then manufacturing has generally been growing, but it’s down a little over 1,000 jobs, and then retail trade looks like about 1,500 jobs down,” says Kerr.

The unemployment rate in the area is currently at 6.4%. 

Austin area schools

A lot of students in the Hays School district are struggling this semester. According to Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright, the number of students failing one or more of the classes is up by 30% compared to this time last year. Wright says more training for virtual learning will be given during homeroom periods. 

The Georgetown school district has seen a shift this week toward more high school kids working from home. Superintendent Dr. Fred Brent says that with the increase in remote learning for the new grading period, the district has to make sure kids are being held accountable. 

“We are concerned about student engagement, whether they’re on-campus or remote. To what degree or students really doing the work experiences that we designed and created for them?” Brent says.

Georgetown High School has 10% fewer kids, Eastview 9% fewer. Elementary and middle school campuses have seen some increases in on-campus learning for this new nine week period.

Seinfeld reunion livestream

Texas Democrats are hoping a reunion of some of the cast of Seinfeld will help them turn Texas blue. Seinfeld cast members Julia Louis Dreyfus, Jason Alexander and Larry David are coming together to raise money for the Texas Democratic Party. The live streamed event will be hosted by Seth Meyers. 

“They are going to pick their favorite Seinfeld episodes, chat about them. There’s gonna be like a question and answer section and some other special prizes and giveaways,” he says. 

People can access the event with a donation of any amount. More information can be found on the Texas Democratic Party website.

Protester suing Austin

A man hit by a bean bag round during protests in May is suing the city of Austin and the officer who fired that round. Anthony Evans claims in the suit he was shot in the jaw with the bean background because the unnamed officer wanted to stifle free speech. A month after the incident, Chief Brian Manley did away with the beanbags for crowd control.

This news and more on News Radio KLBJ:

https://omny.fm/shows/klbjam-flash-briefing-1/am-newscast-10-21-20

 

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