Austin’s Top News – October 22, 2020

Austin's Top News from News Radio KLBJ

Leander shooting

The City of Leander sent out a message overnight for people to stay inside and lock their doors due to a shooting in the 1300 block of Waterfall Avenue near Bagdad Road. Heavy police presence is in that general area. The shooter is believed to be locked inside of a home or a standoff has continued for about six hours. No victims have been found. Police have given no further details. Make sure you stay with us here. We’ll have more for you on this very fluid situation. 

COVID-19 update

Another 15 people have been added to Travis County’s overall number of hospitalized COVID patients. As of this morning, 133 hospitalizations in Travis County. ICU bed usage and ventilator usage also up, but they haven’t spiked quite as much as overall hospitalizations have. 816 cases are active out of the 31,228 that have been confirmed since March and 29,964 are recoveries.

Williamson County’s COVID-19 dashboard has finally been updated after hitting some snags this week. The county says it has 201 active cases, 26 patients hospitalized. There have been 9,263 cases confirmed and 8,912 recoveries. Round Rock has consistently seen the highest rate of infection across the county. 

TEA learning model revision

As of November 2, the Austin School District will be required by the TEA to revise its on campus learning model and allow more kids to travel from room to room. As a lot of kids are struggling with virtual learning, parent Holly Davis tells FOX 7 she thinks it will help a lot of them find their footing. 

“I think that that is a better way to do it, to get the children back to normal and to also protect the teachers who are more susceptible to the dangers of COVID compared to children,” she says.

Teachers will remain in one classroom as kids move to other rooms, and masks will be required for everyone. 

Failure rates in Central Texas

We are seeing some data beginning to come in regarding failure rates for Central Texas students, and they’re definitely higher than normal. The Austin district says its failure rate is 50% higher than it was last year. This week, the Hays district also reported a 30% increase, and the Georgetown district says its failure rates were also concerning. The specific data is not known yet, but that is expected to be released very soon. 

Voter turnout breaks records

While Travis County has smashed early voting records this year, Williamson County’s voter turnout has been higher than almost anywhere else in Texas. Election administrator Chris Davis tells CBS Austin the pace at which people are casting ballots is really unprecedented. 

“What kept us ahead all this time and really in that top spot percentage wise was just the overwhelming number of folks that have mailed in their ballots, and we still continue to see that,” Davis says. 

Through the first nine full days of early voting, about 40% of people have already cast a ballot. 

APD Headquarters demolition plan

The discussion surrounding the demolition of Austin Police Headquarters surfaces again this week at the downtown commission meeting. Alex Gale, with the Real Estate Services Department, says public input will be a key factor in this decision making process, 

“Especially a site like this that was added as a budget rider to specifically look at what the community may want,” says Gale.

He says the city will determine what the police departments’ needs are and how many police officers would need to be relocated before any new site would be selected. That needed assessment is expected to take a couple of months.

Homelessness in Austin 

While in Austin, the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development has laid out changes to the homelessness solutions plan. Secretary Dr. Ben Carson says housing for solutions like in Austin might not be the best approach. 

“You know, just putting them under a roof in many cases doesn’t do the job, particularly if they have addiction problems,” Carson says self sufficiency Is there top priority when addressing homelessness. “Things like employment, training, job placement go a lot further lifting someone out of poverty.” 

They are supporting a more flexible way for local governments to tackle the problem. 

Blue Bell wire fraud

Former Blue Bell Creameries president Paul Kruse is facing seven counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection to the 2015 listeria outbreak. He’s accused of trying to cover up the issue and hide it from the public. Just last month, Blue Bell was also ordered to pay more than $17 million in damages following a guilty plea on two counts of distributing adulterated food products.

HEB has taken another step towards keeping its employees motivated. The company is giving $500 bonuses to workers as a thank you for their work during the pandemic. HEB says employees have met the challenge head on with poise and grace and hopes this bonus will come in a good time to help people provide a little cheer for the upcoming holiday season.

This news and more on News Radio KLBJ:


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