Friday, November 27, 2020

Fwd: Austin Public Health Releases Post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 Guidelines

For immediate release: November 27, 2020
Contact: Austin-Travis County Joint Information System, 512-974-0699,

Austin Public Health Releases Post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 Guidelines

Guidelines provide recommendations to keep yourself and your family safe after holiday gatherings and travel

Austin, Texas – COVID-19 cases are still rising in Austin-Travis County and across the state and country. If you and members of your household have traveled recently or participated in higher-risk activities during Thanksgiving, Austin Public Health (APH) has published guidelines to slow the spread of disease. These guidelines are based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

"COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising locally, across Texas and the United States," said Stephanie Hayden, Austin Public Health Director. "It is critically important that everyone do their part to combat COVID-19 by avoiding gatherings and travel this holiday season. Do not gather with people that you do not live with during the holiday season, avoid high risk activities and stay home as much as possible. Those who have already gathered or traveled need to make sure that they take the proper precautions to stay safe." 

Higher-risk holiday activities include attending crowded, indoor gatherings, going on crowded hayrides with non-household members, participating in traditional caroling or other door-to-door activities, and traveling outside of your community for gatherings and events. 

If you participated in these Thanksgiving activities, you should: 

  • Get tested at least 3-5 days after gathering or traveling AND stay home for 7 days after gathering or traveling. 

  • Even if you test negative, stay home for the full 7 days. 

  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected. 

  • You can sign up for a COVID-19 test through APH at

  • If you don't get tested, it's safest to stay home for 14 days after gathering or traveling. 

  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe complications or death from COVID-19 for 14 days after gathering or traveling, regardless of whether you get tested.  

APH has more than enough capacity for free COVID-19 testing. Individuals can take an assessment online and see if they need to be tested by visiting and clicking "take a self-assessment." Walk-up testing is also available; more information can be found at The Ana Lark Center test site, located at 1400 Tillery Street, Austin, TX 78721, will be the only COVID-19 test site open on Friday, Nov. 27 (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.). 

Last week, Austin-Travis County moved to Stage 4 on the COVID-19 risk-based guidelines. Click here to view the chart. Additional protective measures are recommended for people at higher risk, namely those aged over 65 or people with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, obesity, or those who are otherwise immunocompromised.

"Additional holidays are around the corner; if people still plan to travel despite public health risk guidance, they should consider the 3 'C's; wear a face Covering, avoid Crowds, and decrease your time in Confined areas," said Janet Pichette, Chief Epidemiologist for Austin-Travis County. "We must do our part in the community to keep our families and each other safe."

For COVID-19 information and updates, visit

Monday, November 23, 2020

Zilker Holiday Tree Lighting Virtual Ceremony & Nightly Tree Access Details

For immediate release:
November 23, 2020
Contact: Austin Parks & Recreation Dept - Communications & Engagement Office, (512) 974-6723
How to Watch the Virtual Zilker Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony & Changes to Nightly Tree Access Due to COVID-19

Access to the Zilker Holiday Tree will be different in 2020. The Zilker Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony will be virtual due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions. However, the experience aims to bring joy to the holiday season and allows all to participate for free whilst staying home and staying safe. Special guests for the virtual ceremony include host Quita Culpepper, Mayor Steve Adler, City Manager Spencer Cronk, the Austin Civic Wind Ensemble, winners of the Zilker Holiday Tree Art Contest and more.
Viewers can participate in this virtual experience in multiple ways starting on Sunday, November 29, 2020 at 6 p.m. Set a calendar reminder to watch on any of these platforms:
Nightly Zilker Holiday Tree Access
The Zilker Holiday Tree will be lit nightly from 6 p.m. to midnight on November 29, 2020 through January 1, 2021 at Zilker Metropolitan Park. No onsite access is allowed this year due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions. A perimeter will be installed to prevent access and gathering under or near the Zilker Holiday tree. Additionally, parking lots and parking spaces near the tree will be closed. No vendors or amenities will be permitted on-site to discourage pedestrian traffic. Viewing of the tree is allowed only while inside a vehicle from the roadway. Austin Public Health recommends being cautious this holiday season by celebrating virtually or with members of your household only. If you choose to gather traditionally, follow the holiday safety guidance at
One perk of the virtual 2020 Zilker Holiday tree experience is that you will be able to still spin under the tree, safely from home in your pajamas. Visit for a virtual tree spinning video which you can play on a loop for a dizzying experience.  
Trail of Lights
Trail of Lights is a drive-thru only experience this holiday season. Beginning Saturday, November 28 through January 3, 2021 participants can access the Trail of Lights with a vehicle pass purchased in advance. No walk up or open-air vehicle access is allowed due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions. Vehicle tickets and more details available at

Small Business Saturday, November 28

For immediate release: November 23, 2020
Media Contact: Veronica Samo, 512-974-7636,



Choose Austin Merchants on Small Business Saturday, November 28

AUSTIN, TX – The City of Austin Economic Development Department encourages everyone to reinvest in the Austin economy by shopping local on Small Business Saturday, November 28. This annual highlight promotes Austin's small businesses by encouraging residents and visitors to spend their holiday shopping dollars with local boutiques, artisans, restaurants, and independent stores. Positioned after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday serves as a critical launch into the holiday shopping season for many small businesses.

Founded in 2010 by American Express, and officially cosponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) since 2011, Small Business Saturday is a national celebration of small businesses. It is an opportunity to come together, while masked-up, to show support for friends and neighbors. Small businesses are foundational to a healthy economy. Although shopping local benefits communities year-round, the busiest holiday shopping weekend of the year is a great occasion to choose small businesses first. The impact of shopping locally produces a ripple effect that flows throughout Austin. According to the SBA, more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and small businesses create about two-thirds of new jobs in the U.S. each year. The positive benefits of shopping local extend far beyond individual transactions.


Souly Austin Business Districts

To increase awareness of locally-owned small businesses, the Economic Development Department works to promote culturally rich and diverse neighborhood business districts throughout Austin. Recognizing that small business is vital to the local economy, the Souly Austin program is a place-based tool for residents and visitors to explore the many locally-owned small businesses within the six established business districts that give Austin its treasured and unique character. Districts include: East Cesar Chavez District, East 12th Street District, North Lamar International District, South Congress District, and Red River Cultural District. Discover local restaurants, retail shops, and makers to patronize.

Reminder for all Small Business Saturday shoppers: Stay safe by wearing a mask, maintaining at least 6 feet of space between you and others, or shopping online to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. Stay home if you are feeling any symptoms.


About the City of Austin Economic Development Department
The City of Austin Economic Development Department supports business growth, creative industries, and local communities. These programs build an equitable, sustainable economy to improve the lives of all Austin residents. To learn more about helpful resources, visit or like us on Facebook @AustinEconDev and follow @Austin EconDev on Twitter

Friday, November 20, 2020

City of Austin Announces 24/7 COVID-19 Health and Wellness Support Line for Austin Residents


City of Austin Announces 24/7 COVID-19 Health and Wellness Support Line for Austin Residents
Call 1-888-855-7483 for confidential help beginning November 20, 2020

La Ciudad de Austin anuncia Línea de Apoyo de Salud y Bienestar disponible las 24 horas todos los días de la semana para los residentes de Austin
Llame al 1-888-855-7483 para ayuda confidencial a partir del 20 de noviembre

COVID-19 Health and Wellness Support Line

AUSTIN, TX – The City of Austin announces a new health and wellness resource that provides short-term counseling and support to Austin workers and families whose mental health has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Beginning November 20, 2020, residents living in an Austin City Council District can speak with a counselor from Alliance Work Partners through a confidential 24-hour support line at 1-888-855-7483. Services are free and available in English, Spanish, and over 150 other languages. Alliance Work Partners' counselors are expertly trained to support individuals experiencing stress, depression, anxiety, domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse/dependency, marital and family issues, and more. Counselors also provide resources and referrals for various needs, including childcare, eldercare, legal, and financial support. Alliance Work Partners may offer additional resources and referrals to other providers that could require payment.
Even if you aren't sure if you suffer with mental health challenges, I want everyone to seek help to understand what they're experiencing," said Stephanie Hayden, Austin Public Health Director. "It's important that you continue interactions with friends and loved ones and ask them to get help if they need it." 
If a resident is experiencing a mental health crisis, Alliance Work Partners will connect the individual to Integral Care, Travis County's Local Mental Health Authority, for immediate support through their free 24/7 Crisis Helpline (512-472-HELP/4357).
Low and moderate-income employees and former employees working in customer-facing industries like food and beverage service, retail, hospitality, and personal services (i.e., barbershops, salons, residential cleaning, etc.) are highly encouraged to access these free resources.
"Supporting our community's mental health and wellness is extremely important in these times of uncertainty," notes Veronica Briseño, Chief Economic Recovery Officer for the City of Austin. "We strongly encourage Austinites utilize our COVID-19 Mental Health Resources if they need support getting through this challenging time."
The COVID-19 Health and Wellness Support Line with Alliance Work Partners is funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and will close on December 30, 2020 due to CARES Act requirements. For continued assistance, contact Integral Care for immediate support through their free 24/7 Crisis Helpline (512-472-HELP/4357).
Visit for more information on COVID-19 recovery resources.

AUSTIN, TX – La Ciudad de Austin anuncia un nuevo recurso de salud y bienestar que provee consejería y apoyo a corto plazo para los trabajadores y familias de Austin cuya salud mental se haya visto afectada por la pandemia del COVID-19. 
A partir del 20 de noviembre de 2020, los residentes que viven en un distrito del Concejo Municipal de Austin pueden hablar con un consejero de Alliance Work Partners llamando al 1-888-855-7483, una línea de ayuda confidencial disponible las 24 horas. Los servicios son gratis y están disponibles en inglés, español y más de otros 150 idiomas. Los consejeros de Alliance Work Partners tienen entrenamiento experto para darles apoyo a las personas que están experimentando estrés, depresión, ansiedad, violencia doméstica, abuso/dependencia del alcohol o drogas, problemas matrimoniales y familiares y más. Los consejeros también proporcionan recursos y recomendaciones para diversas necesidades, incluyendo cuidado infantil, cuidado de adultos mayores y apoyo legal y financiero. Alliance Work Partners puede ofrecer recursos adicionales y recomendaciones a otros proveedores que pudieran requerir pago.
Incluso si no está seguro si  usted sufre problemas de salud mental, quiero que todos busquen ayuda para comprender lo que están sintiendo ", dijo Stephanie Hayden, directora del departamento  salud pública de Austin. "Es importante que continúe interactuando con amigos y seres queridos y les pido que busquen ayuda si la necesitan."
Si un residente está pasando por una crisis de salud mental, Alliance Work Partners conectará a la persona con Integral Care, la Autoridad Local de Salud Mental del Condado de Travis, para apoyo inmediato a través de su Línea de Asistencia en Crisis 24 horas al día, los 7 días a la semana (512-472-HELP/4357).
Se anima a los empleados y ex-empleados de ingresos bajos y moderados de industrias que atienden al público como lugares de comida y bebida, tiendas, hoteles y servicios personales (por ejemplo, barberías, salones de belleza, limpieza residencial, etc.) a que aprovechen estos recursos gratis.
"Apoyar la salud y bienestar mental de nuestra comunidad es extremadamente importante en estos tiempos de incertidumbre", indica Veronica Briseño, directora de Recuperación Económica de la Ciudad de Austin. "Animamos enfáticamente a los residentes de Austin a que utilicen nuestros recursos de salud mental durante COVID-19 si necesitan apoyo para sobrellevar estos tiempos difíciles".
La Línea de Apoyo de Salud y Bienestar durante COVID-19 con Alliance Work Partners está financiada a través de la Ley Federal de Asistencia, Alivio y Seguridad Económica durante el Coronavirus (CARES, en inglés) y cerrará el 30 de diciembre de 2020 debido a los requisitos de la Ley CARES. Para asistencia continua, comuníquese con Integral Care para apoyo inmediato a través de su Línea de Asistencia en Crisis 24 horas al día, 7 días a la semana (512-472-HELP/4357).
Visite para más información sobre recursos de recuperación durante COVID-19.


About the City of Austin Economic Development Department
The City of Austin Economic Development Department supports business growth, creative industries, and local communities. These programs build an equitable, sustainable economy to improve the lives of all Austin residents. To learn more about helpful resources, visit or or like us on Facebook @AustinEconDev and follow @Austin EconDev on Twitter.

Información sobre el Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la Ciudad de Austin
El Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la Ciudad de Austin apoya el crecimiento de los negocios, las industrias creativas y las comunidades locales. Estos programas construyen una economía equitativa y sostenible para mejorar las vidas de todos los residentes de Austin. Para aprender más sobre recursos útiles, visite o síguenos en Facebook a @AustinEconDev y siga a @AustinEconDev en Twitter.

About Alliance Work Partners
Alliance Work Partners offers employees and their families solution-focused counseling, guidance, training, resources and referrals to help balance work with life and increase health and wellbeing. A division of the 501(c)(3) non-profit Workers Assistance Program, Alliance Work Partners has been outfitting workplaces with healthier, more productive employees and lowering healthcare costs by providing world-class employee assistance programs (EAP) since 1977.

Información sobre Alliance Work Partners
Alliance Work Partners ofrece a los empleados y sus familias consejería centrada en soluciones, orientación, capacitación, recursos y recomendaciones para ayudar a encontrar un balance entre el trabajo y la vida diaria y fomentar la salud y el bienestar. Alliance Work Partners, una división del Programa de Asistencia a Trabajadores sin fines de lucro 501(c)(3), ha estado equipando a los lugares de trabajo con empleados más saludables y productivos y reduciendo los costos de atención médica proveyendo programas de asistencia al empleado (EAP, en inglés) de primera calidad desde 1977.

About Integral Care
Integral Care supports adults and children living with mental illness, substance use disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities in Travis County. Services include a 24-hour helpline, counseling, drug and alcohol treatment, and housing. Founded in 1967, Integral Care is the Local Mental Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disability Authority in Travis County.

Información sobre Integral Care
Integral Care apoya a los adultos y niños que viven con enfermedades mentales, trastornos de uso de sustancias y discapacidades intelectuales y del desarrollo en el Condado de Travis. Los servicios incluyen una línea de ayuda las 24 horas, consejería, tratamiento de alcohol y drogas y vivienda. Fundada in 1967, Integral Care es la Autoridad Local de Salud Mental y Discapacidad Intelectual y del Desarrollo en el Condado de Travis.

Austin Public Health Extends Hours at COVID-19 Test Sites

For immediate release: November 20, 2020
Contact: Austin-Travis County Joint Information System, 512-974-0699,

Austin Public Health Extends Hours at COVID-19 Test Sites
Austin, Texas – Beginning today, Nov. 19, Austin Public Health (APH) has extended hours at several COVID-19 neighborhood test sites.
APH test sites that formerly operated from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. will now be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Testing site staff have become more efficient at site setup and preparation, allowing the sites to be operational for an additional hour without requiring more staff time.  
The Little Walnut Creek, Givens, and Southeast Library testing site hours will be adjusted Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and the Montopolis testing site hours will be adjusted on Tuesdays.

For APH neighborhood testing sites, individuals are not required to arrive to the test site in a vehicle, and there are a limited number of slots available to individuals without an appointment. While there is more than enough capacity, we encourage people to sign up for an appointment to limit their wait time at the site.
For complete COVID-19 testing site schedules, visit
For more information about COVID-19, visit

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Austin-Travis County Enters Stage 4 of COVID-19 Risk-based Guidelines

For immediate release: November 19, 2020
Contact: Austin-Travis County Joint Information System, 512-974-0699,

Austin-Travis County Enters Stage 4 of COVID-19 Risk-based Guidelines

Additional precautions recommended as cases and hospitalizations rise close to Thanksgiving

Austin, Texas – As of Nov. 19, Austin-Travis County is moving out of Stage 3 and into Stage 4 based on Austin Public Health's (APH) Risk-Based Guidelines. The key indicators for stage changes, including the 7-day moving average of hospitalizations, number of patients in the ICU, ventilator usage, positivity rate, and the 7-day moving average of cases, are all trending upward. These indicators combined with concerns of gatherings outside of the household for the Thanksgiving holiday prompted APH to raise the risk level.   

"We know this virus is especially dangerous to older adults and those with underlying medical conditions," said APH Director Stephanie Hayden. "As you are making holiday plans, remember your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other loved ones who could face serious complications. Consider starting new traditions and celebrate only with your household." 

The risk-based guidelines are not changes to local Orders and Rules or regulations for businesses; they are guidelines for individual actions and behaviors based on various risk levels. The risk level recommendations are different for those who are at higher risk for severe complications and death from COVID-19. 

In Stage 4: 

  • Higher-risk individuals (those over the age of 65 and those who have chronic medical conditions) should stay home, except for essential trips such as buying groceries or seeking medical care.   

  • Lower-risk individuals should avoid social gatherings, any gatherings greater than 10 people, and non-essential travel.  

  • Recommend businesses and restaurants voluntarily reduce capacity to 25-50%. 

  • Recommend schools limit attendance at sporting events to players, coaches, and parents. 

The key indicators for risk-based guideline staging can be found in the Key Indicators for Staging Dashboard (mobile link). 

"With COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths increasing across Texas and the United States, it is time to sound the alarm and consider our personal behaviors and their impact on the community," said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "Austin-Travis County did not keep our COVID-19 numbers comparatively low by accident or luck, but through community engagement and action. Once again, the actions we take in the coming days and weeks can either move us in the right or the wrong direction."  

Austin-Travis County leaders remind the public to continue to be vigilant and practice good hygiene, physical and social distancing, and wear face coverings to prevent the disease from spreading and help keep each other safe. Avoiding gatherings outside of your household is especially important this holiday season. COVID-19 holiday safety recommendations can be found at  

Dr. Escott added: "We are not immune from a tragedy like El Paso's and like El Paso, we could be facing a rapidly growing surge between Thanksgiving and Christmas with Stage 5 a few weeks away. We also have the ability, through our protective actions now, to keep our community safe and prevent needless tragedy and loss over the holiday season by flattening the curve again." 

Austin-Travis County first moved into Stage 4 on June 15, 2020 but has been in Stage 3 since Aug. 25, 2020. 

For more information and updates, visit

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Local Businesses Invited to Apply for City of Austin’s [Re]Verse Pitch Competition

Nov. 17, 2020
Media Contacts: 
Austin Resource Recovery Media Line: (512) 974-1800
Local Businesses Invited to Apply for City of Austin's [Re]Verse Pitch Competition
Businesses with surplus material can apply to participate in annual competition hosted this spring
AUSTIN, TX – The City of Austin is accepting applications from local businesses and institutions to participate in the sixth annual [Re]Verse Pitch Competition, a program that aims to reduce waste in Austin and within the business community.

The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition is seeking businesses with surplus materials or by-product waste to apply to be a material supplier, as many businesses and organizations have waste products that have more economic potential than being sent to the landfill. As a material supplier, businesses will pitch their surplus material to competing innovators and entrepreneurs, who will create a new product or business venture using the material. Competing entrepreneurs will receive guidance as they create a business plan and test their concepts for viability. Details on the prize will be announced in the coming months.

The deadline to apply to become a material supplier for the [Re]Verse Pitch Competition is December 9, 2020. The application can be found here.
As a material supplier, Austin businesses could cut their disposal costs, create new partnerships among the business community, have a positive social and economic impact in Austin, and establish new systems for waste reduction.

The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition is also seeking volunteer mentors and advisors; volunteer opportunities can be found here. For more information, visit

The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition is a collaboration between the City of Austin, the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce, and the US Business Council for Sustainable Development with additional support from a wide variety of community partners. 

About the Circular Economy Program
The City of Austin Circular Economy Program's mission is to attract, retain, and grow businesses, non-profits, and entrepreneurs in the zero waste industry in order to create well-paying local jobs, attract investment, and support the necessary infrastructure for a resilient circular economy in Central Texas. The program is a partnership between Austin Resource Recovery and the Economic Development Department.

About Austin Resource Recovery
Austin Resource Recovery provides a wide range of services designed to transform waste into resources while keeping our community clean. Services include curbside collection of recycling, trash, yard trimmings and large brush and bulk items; street sweeping; dead animal collection; household hazardous waste disposal and recycling; and outreach and education. Austin Resource Recovery offers free, voluntary and confidential consulting services to help Austin businesses reduce waste and comply with the City's recycling ordinances. In December 2011, the Austin City Council approved the Austin Resource Recovery Master Plan, which is the City's road map to Zero Waste. The City of Austin is committed to reducing the amount of waste sent to area landfills by 90 percent by 2040. Learn more at

About the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce
The Austin Young Chamber promotes the general economic interests of the Central Texas business community through initiatives and efforts designed to build and strengthen our young professional workforce. Connect with the Austin Young Chamber on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or LinkedIn, or check out upcoming programs at

Monday, November 16, 2020

Austin Announces New Online Affordable Housing Search Tool (AHOST)

City of Austin - News and Events
Austin Announces New Online Affordable Housing Search Tool (AHOST)

Nov 16, 2020 04:40 pm

The City of Austin has announced a new Affordable Housing Online Search Tool (AHOST) to help potential renters find affordable housing that matches their household income and occupancy needs

The AHOST is accessible in both English and Spanish, and asks users only to provide their current yearly household income and how many people reside in their household to inform the search. Within seconds, a map of income-restricted housing is generated, as well as property details including: 

  • Leasing Office Contact Information 
  • Affordability Levels 
  • Nearby Schools 
  • Amenities
  • Communities Served 
  • Acceptance Criteria 

The searchable map and listing of income-restricted affordable rental housing is drawn from the Comprehensive Affordable Housing Directory, which is a comprehensive online data tool for planning and tracking housing inventories and construction programs across the City of Austin.

The AHOST database includes income-restricted rental units from the Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA), the Housing Authority of Travis County (HATC), City of Austin, and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA).

A live demo of the AHOST will be provided during the Housing and Planning Committee meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday November 17, streaming on ATXN1 Live.

While the AHOST listing will be updated regularly, the availability of units cannot be guaranteed in real-time, given to the rapid changes in the Austin housing market.  Affordable housing property owners and managers are able to update information for their listing online, which will be updated in the search tool.  The addition of new properties where a certificate of occupancy has been issued are updated quarterly.   

For more information on the AHOST, visit the webpage at or for a direct link to the search tool, view "How-To" videos in English and Spanish, and access more resources for renters.  Email contact: