Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Austin Water Saves Millions through State Funding for Water, Wastewater and Metering Infrastructure Overhaul



Funds will enhance resilience to extreme weather and emergency events

Austin's push to modernize and strengthen its water, wastewater and metering infrastructure received a bump, thanks to newly acquired below market interest rate loans from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB).  Austin Water secured a combined $71.1 million in TWDB funding through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, and the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT).

Austin Water has pursued low interest rate loans to keep costs for infrastructure improvements down, protect rates, and maintain affordability of water and wastewater services. This newest wave of funding locks in interest rates as low as 0.20% and saves the utility and customers millions in financing costs.

"Historically low interest rates coupled with TWDB rate discounts allowed Austin Water to save customers upwards of $13.3 million in financing costs just in this wave of funding alone," said Christina Romero, Austin Water Division Manager, Financial Services. "We are implementing long term and system-wide renovations and upgrades at a faster pace while lowering long-term financing costs."

"This funding allows us to make large strategic improvements to our infrastructure for long-term resiliency," said Shay Ralls Roalson, Assistant Director of Austin Water – Engineering Services. "These generational investments towards the modernization of our water and wastewater infrastructure and metering system will help us deliver reliable high-quality water and wastewater service for years to come."

More Reliable Reservoir Storage and Pumping Capacity
Funding from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund will go towards upgrading the North Austin Reservoir and Pump Station with a new 8-million gallon ground storage tank and pump station, replacing a reservoir that was originally built in 1912. A portion of the funding will also go toward construction of state-of-the-art electrical equipment at the Ullrich Water Treatment Plant - Low Service Pump Station, replacing equipment that was original to the plant construction. Both of these projects will improve water system reliability and resiliency and reduce maintenance costs. The $30 million, 30-year loan with an all-in interest rate of 0.28%, will save customers and the utility an estimated $7.2 million relative to traditional revenue bond financing in the municipal capital markets.

Enhanced Power Reliability at Wastewater Treatment Plants
Funding from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund will go towards improving pumping systems at Walnut Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant as well as rehabilitation of the plant's sludge thickener system. A portion of the funding will go towards replacement of the electrical substation at the South Austin Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant. These projects will improve the reliability and resiliency of Austin's major wastewater treatment facilities. The $23.1 million, 30-year loan with an all-in interest rate of 0.20%, will save customers and the utility an estimated $5.7 million relative to traditional revenue bond financing in the municipal capital markets.

Real-time Data with Advanced Metering Infrastructure
Funding from the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas will go toward a complete modernization of Austin's water meter infrastructure. A city-wide initiative, known as MyATXWater, is underway to replace analog water meters with advanced digital meters to give customers more control over their water usage and the ability to closely monitor for leaks within their private system. The advanced meter infrastructure will also provide Austin Water with more real-time analytics about system-wide performance. The $18 million, 20-year loan with an all-in interest rate of 1.49%, will save customers and the utility nearly half a million dollars relative to traditional revenue bond financing in the municipal capital markets.

 

Affordability and Infrastructure Improvements

Improving affordability and infrastructure stability are components of the utility's long-term strategic business plan that uses Effective Utility Management strategies to meet the challenges ahead. Austin Water has chosen to focus on Affordability, Customer Satisfaction, Employee and Leadership Development, and Infrastructure Stability. Taken together, improvements in these target areas are helping Austin Water continue to be an industry leader and improve operations and resiliency.

Monday, November 29, 2021

City’s Labor Relations Team Gears Up for Talks on Public Safety Agreements



Negotiations with Unions, Slated to Begin Nov. 30, will be Streamed Live Online 

The City of Austin will enter negotiations with labor unions over the next few months to negotiate new labor agreements as the current agreements expire.

The City's Labor Relations Office is set to commence talks with the Austin EMS Association at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 30. Both the Police and Fire negotiations will begin after the new year. 

This year, in an extra effort toward transparency, and to help facilitate social distancing during COVID-19, the public is invited to watch the negotiations live on YouTube at bit.ly/COALaborRelations
 
The negotiation session dates will be published on the Labor Relations Office's webpage.

"We look forward to working cooperatively with each of the Fire, Police and EMS associations to reach agreements that benefit both Austin residents and our public safety employees," said Deven Desai, Chief Labor Relations Officer for the City of Austin. "While this will be a challenging time to negotiate from both a fiscal and COVID-19 standpoint, we remain committed to transparency and fairness." 

The Labor Relations Office will lead negotiations for the City with representation from various City departments. Tentative agreements between the negotiating teams are subject to ratification by the unions and approval of City Council. 

The City currently has three public safety labor agreements in place, with Police, EMS and Fire departments. All three are due to end on Sept. 30, 2022, although the Police contract includes a 6-month provision where the current agreement will remain in effect should the parties fail to negotiate a successor agreement. 

Current Agreements 

Austin Police Department:

Austin/Travis County EMS:

Austin Fire Department:

Support Available to Help English Learners Access City Services



New iSpeak Austin Campaign Aimed at Individuals with Limited English Proficiency

More than 100,000 Austinites who struggle to speak or read English are being encouraged to access City of Austin services in their preferred language as part of a new campaign to help those with limited English proficiency.

The City wants to help make sure that the estimated 111,000 individuals who speak English "less than very well" (11% of the city's population) and the 300,000 Austinites who speak a language other than English at home (31% of the population) know their rights and can navigate the system to access the full range of City services.

One way the City is doing this is by offering free interpretation and translation of written information to Austinites who request language access services. A City initiative called iSpeak Austin will be highlighting a range of online resources in multiple languages. The City is also distributing informational wallet cards and posters to local libraries to help people whose primary language is not English communicate their needs to English speakers.

"Whether it's borrowing a library book, applying for financial support, or seeking a permit, every Austinite has the right to access City of Austin services in their preferred language, and the City has resources available to ensure this happens," said the City's Interim Communications Director, Jessica King. "Over the coming weeks we will be working to make sure new English learners and immigrant communities are aware of their rights and have the information they need to exercise them." 

More than 80 languages are spoken in Austin. After English, the most common languages include (in order of prevalence):  

  • Spanish 
  • Chinese 
  • Vietnamese 
  • Arabic 
  • Korean 
  • French 
  • Hindi 

The City has recently identified these as priority languages for communicating city-wide programs and services.

Other languages – Nepali, Swahili, Pashto, Burmese and Tigrinya – are also recognized by the City's Language Access Program as having significant numbers of users. Free interpretation and translation are available upon request to access City services in any language.

The key languages spoken in Austin have been identified based on data points from the 2018 American Community Survey, Austin Police Department, Austin Public Health, Austin Municipal Court, Austin Independent School District, Capital Metro, Caritas of Austin, Refugee Services of Texas, and Casa Marinella.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

City of Austin Thanksgiving Closures 2021

 


City of Austin Offices, Facilities to Close for Thanksgiving 2021
City of Austin administrative offices and other municipal facilities will be closed Thursday and Friday, Nov. 25-26 in observance of Thanksgiving.

Trash and Recycling Schedules
All trash, recycling and compost collections will "slide" forward one day on Thanksgiving. You will be affected if your regular collection day is Thursday or Friday. Check your personalized curbside services calendar and set up reminders for all your collections on the Austin Recycles mobile app or onlineThe Recycle and Reuse Drop-off Center will be closed Thursday, Nov. 25, but remains open by appointment only on Friday and Saturday.

Austin Public Health COVID-19 Test & Vaccine Site Schedule and Dashboard
All Austin Public Health COVID-19 Testing Sites and Vaccine Sites will be closed from Wednesday, Nov. 25, through Sunday, Nov. 28.

The COVID-19 surveillance dashboard will not be updated on Thursday or Friday, Nov. 25-26, but will be updated Monday, Nov. 29. To schedule a COVID-19 test or vaccine through Austin Public Health, visit austintexas.gov/covid19.

Parks and Recreation Facilities Schedules
Austin Parks and Recreation holiday hours vary based on facility so please call ahead or check AustinTexas.gov/Parks before you go. Most facilities including museums and cultural centers, recreation centers, and senior centers will close at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 24 and remain closed through Thursday, Nov. 25 and Friday, Nov. 26 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Tennis Centers will be closed on Thanksgiving Day only. All Aquatic Facilities will be closed on Thanksgiving Day except Barton Springs Pool which will operate unguarded. For pool hours over the holiday weekend visit AustinTexas.gov/Pools.

Golf courses will be open on Thanksgiving Day with final reservations and carts issued at 12 p.m., driving Ranges will close at 1:30 p.m. and pro shops and concessions will close at 4:30 p.m. More information on Austin Parks and Recreation closures can be found at AustinTexas.gov/ParkClosures.

Austin Public Library Schedule
All Austin Public Library locations will be closed Thursday, Nov. 25, and Friday, Nov. 26. Library resources available remotely can be accessed at the Austin Public Library Website: library.austintexas.gov.

Austin Animal Center Schedule
The Austin Animal Center will close at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 24, remain closed Thanksgiving Day, and Friday, Nov. 26. The center will be open during its regular hours Saturday, Nov. 27 and Sunday, Nov. 28.

City of Austin Utilities Schedule
The City of Austin Utilities Customer Care Call Center will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 25 through Saturday, Nov. 27. Additionally, all City of Austin Utility Customer Service Centers will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 25 and Friday, Nov. 26. Customers can make utility payments at coautilities.com or by calling 1-833-375-4919 for a Quick Payment. 

In the event of an outage, please contact us at 512-494-9400 and follow the prompts. A customer service representative will be available 24 hours a day over the holiday to assist with any outage concerns.

Additional payment options include: 
  • Paying at authorized locations, including most Austin H-E-B, Fiesta Mart, Randall’s and Walmart stores 
  • Mailing money order or check to P.O. BOX 2267, Austin, TX 78783-2267 or using a drop box location  
  • Payment drop boxes are located at the North and South Utility Customer Service Centers, 625 East 10th Street and 505 Barton Springs Rd. Expect 3-5 business days for drop-off payments to process. The payment drop box at the East Branch inside Rosewood-Zaragosa is NOT available at this time. 
 
For questions about city services or information call 3-1-1. You can also submit service requests from the Austin 3-1-1 mobile app.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Prior to Holidays, Austin Public Health updates Risk-Based Guidelines and Key Indicators Dashboard


Key Indicators Dashboard emphasizes importance of tracking Community Transmission Rate to prevent post-holiday surges 

Austin Public Health continues to raise awareness about the Community Transmission Rate (CTR). CTR helps predict and can help us prevent surge. As promised during a Nov. 5 announcement, APH updated the Key Indicators for Staging Dashboard to illustrate the factors that go into changing stages. Each family must measure their own personal risk for their household. The Risk-Based Guidance Chart was updated to reflect mitigation efforts for high-risk individuals. Those who are unvaccinated are considered high-risk.  

“Please think of the highest-risk person in your family and do all that you can to protect them this Thanksgiving,” said Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes.   

Risk-Based Chart Updates 

APH expanded the scenarios where high-risk individuals should wear masks to protect themselves from the Delta variant of COVID-19. 

Those scenarios include:  

  • Wearing masks at indoor gatherings with people outside your household at Stages 1 and 2. 
  • Wearing masks while dining and not eating or drinking at Stages 1 and 2. 
  • Wearing masks while shopping indoors at Stage 2. 

The public is urged to follow these guidelines ahead of a busy Thanksgiving weekend when people will be gathering. 

“This time last year we were urging people to stay home for Thanksgiving as we dealt with a surge,” said Janet Pichette, Chief Epidemiologist for Austin Public Health. “We’re now equipped with vaccines and helpful data so we can work together to stay safe and prevent another surge.” 

APH has also updated the Risk-Based Guidelines chart to pair CTR thresholds with the existing hospitalization thresholds, and revised mask guidance for high-risk individuals partaking in activities at different stages. These updates equip the public with the information they need to keep themselves and others safe from COVID-19. 

The CTR thresholds go as follows: 

  • <5 is Stage 1 
  • <10 is Stage 2 
  • 10-49 is Stage 3 
  • 50-99 is Stage 4 
  • 100+ is Stage 5

Key Indicators Dashboard Updates 

Updates to the Key Indicators Dashboard are designed to elevate measures APH is closely monitoring to determine staging. Austin-Travis County’s current stage level is prominently featured in the upper left corner. The corresponding factors are displayed directly atop the stage tracker graph. You’ll notice the local Community Transmission Rate (CTR), which is currently substantial. The statewide CTR is also substantial. That figure is shown in the bottom left corner of the dashboard adjacent to the national rate, which is high. That same tile is where you’ll find influenza test results by selecting the corresponding tab below. 

Streamlined icons on the upper right side of the dashboard highlight other important measures APH continues to track. The dashboard is updated each afternoon. The figures reflect the previous day’s totals. 

Link: Key Indicators for Staging Dashboard 

Remind me, why the updates? 

CTR helps forecast how COVID-19 is spreading and gives the public a warning to take action to prevent a surge. 

The graph below illustrates how it relates to hospitalizations. You’ll notice the transmission rate precedes an increase in hospitalization numbers. 


 

Vaccinations and Testing Ahead of the Holidays 

The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 during the holidays is to make sure everyone in the household is fully vaccinated, especially when multiple generations plan to be together. 

Protecting those at high risk of infection with boosters and third doses is critical to minimizing the spread, especially during the holidays. Studies increasingly show vaccines’ protection wanes over time; boosters are recommended six months after the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and two months after the one-shot Johnson & Johnson. 

In order to be fully vaccinated, keep in mind it takes two weeks for the vaccine (including boosters, third doses) to provide maximum efficacy. 

Children 5-11 years of age are now eligible for vaccination. Children proved to be especially vulnerable to hospitalization and even death from the Delta variant. Pediatric vaccinations are widely available through APH and its vaccine partners, including pharmacies and medical offices. Only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for pediatric vaccinations. 

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and require neither identification nor insurance. Residents can locate providers in their area using Vaccines.gov (Vacunas.gov in Spanish), or they can text their zip code to 438829 (822862 in Spanish) to find a nearby clinic. 

It’s easy to confuse COVID-19 symptoms with those of the flu and allergies. Stay safe and get tested, especially prior to traveling and gathering with high-risk individuals. Testing is available through home testing kits and providers throughout the community. 

For additional COVID-19 information and updates, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19



Austin Public Library Pleasant Hill Branch Hosting Grand Re-Opening Party Dec. 4

 


The Pleasant Hill Branch of Austin Public Library will be opening to the public on Saturday December 4, 2021, with a Grand Re-Opening Party for the community featuring live music performances, food and drink, and activities for families.

“We are very excited that the doors will be reopening for this important center for the South Austin community,” stated Austin Public Library director Roosevelt Weeks. “We believe the improvements made to the facilities at the Pleasant Hill Branch will enable Austin Public Library to serve this growing part of our community sustainably for years to come.”

The festivities will kick off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:00 a.m. and will feature indoor and outdoor activities for families until 4:00 p.m. There will also be breakfast tacos, pan dulce, aguas frescas and coffee available in the morning.

Pleasant Hill Branch Library Grand Re-Opening Party
Dec. 4, 2021, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
211 E. William Cannon Dr., Austin, TX 78745

Scheduled events:
10 a.m. -  Ribbon-cutting ceremony and remarks from Councilmember Vanessa Fuentes, APL Assistant Director Dana Conners, Library Commission Chair Pat Dabbert, and a reading from Austin Youth Poet Laureate Ireland Griffin
10:30 a.m. - Performance by Akins High School Mariachi Band
12 p.m. - Art Smart program for kids
2:30 p.m. - PiƱata for kids
3 p.m. - Performance by Minor Mishap Marching Band

All-Day family activities:
Story stroll "Too Many Tamales" by Gary Soto – outdoors
Children's book giveaway
Create “Welcome Back” messages – indoors
Chalk obstacle course – outdoors
Seasonal crafts – outdoors
Photo booth – outdoors
Bean bag toss – outdoors
Bowling – outdoors

The Pleasant Hill Branch was closed for renovation in 2019 with that closure extended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the improvements made are a roof replacement, a new HVAC system, electrical work, and interior enhancements including new wood flooring and a new, brighter color scheme.

Following the re-opening, the Pleasant Hill Branch will be open 12 p.m. – 8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, and 10 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, and closed Saturdays and Sundays.

City of Austin Thanksgiving Closures 2021

 

City of Austin Offices, Facilities to Close for Thanksgiving 2021
City of Austin administrative offices and other municipal facilities will be closed Thursday and Friday, Nov. 25-26 in observance of Thanksgiving.

Trash and Recycling Schedules
All trash, recycling and compost collections will "slide" forward one day on Thanksgiving. You will be affected if your regular collection day is Thursday or Friday. Check your personalized curbside services calendar and set up reminders for all your collections on the Austin Recycles mobile app or onlineThe Recycle and Reuse Drop-off Center will be closed Thursday, Nov. 25, but remains open by appointment only on Friday and Saturday.

Austin Public Health COVID-19 Test & Vaccine Site Schedule and Dashboard
All Austin Public Health COVID-19 Testing Sites and Vaccine Sites will be closed from Wednesday, Nov. 25, through Sunday, Nov. 28.

The COVID-19 surveillance dashboard will not be updated on Thursday or Friday, Nov. 25-26, but will be updated Monday, Nov. 29. To schedule a COVID-19 test or vaccine through Austin Public Health, visit austintexas.gov/covid19.

Parks and Recreation Facilities Schedules
Austin Parks and Recreation holiday hours vary based on facility so please call ahead or check AustinTexas.gov/Parks before you go. Most facilities including museums and cultural centers, recreation centers, and senior centers will close at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 24 and remain closed through Thursday, Nov. 25 and Friday, Nov. 26 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Tennis Centers will be closed on Thanksgiving Day only. All Aquatic Facilities will be closed on Thanksgiving Day except Barton Springs Pool which will operate unguarded. For pool hours over the holiday weekend visit AustinTexas.gov/Pools.

Golf courses will be open on Thanksgiving Day with final reservations and carts issued at 12 p.m., driving Ranges will close at 1:30 p.m. and pro shops and concessions will close at 4:30 p.m. More information on Austin Parks and Recreation closures can be found at AustinTexas.gov/ParkClosures.

Austin Public Library Schedule
All Austin Public Library locations will be closed Thursday, Nov. 25, and Friday, Nov. 26. Library resources available remotely can be accessed at the Austin Public Library Website: library.austintexas.gov.

Austin Animal Center Schedule
The Austin Animal Center will close at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 24, remain closed Thanksgiving Day, and Friday, Nov. 26. The center will be open during its regular hours Saturday, Nov. 27 and Sunday, Nov. 28.

City of Austin Utilities Schedule
The City of Austin Utilities Customer Care Call Center will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 25 through Saturday, Nov. 27. Additionally, all City of Austin Utility Customer Service Centers will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 25 and Friday, Nov. 26. Customers can make utility payments at coautilities.com or by calling 1-833-375-4919 for a Quick Payment. 

In the event of an outage, please contact us at 512-494-9400 and follow the prompts. A customer service representative will be available 24 hours a day over the holiday to assist with any outage concerns.

Additional payment options include: 
  • Paying at authorized locations, including most Austin H-E-B, Fiesta Mart, Randall’s and Walmart stores 
  • Mailing money order or check to P.O. BOX 2267, Austin, TX 78783-2267 or using a drop box location  
  • Payment drop boxes are located at the North and South Utility Customer Service Centers, 625 East 10th Street and 505 Barton Springs Rd. Expect 3-5 business days for drop-off payments to process. The payment drop box at the East Branch inside Rosewood-Zaragosa is NOT available at this time. 
 
For questions about city services or information call 3-1-1. You can also submit service requests from the Austin 3-1-1 mobile app.

City of Austin Selected to Receive $500,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the American Rescue Plan

 

The City of Austin Economic Development Department has been selected to receive a $500,000 American Rescue Plan grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to help the arts and cultural sector recover from the pandemic. The City will incorporate this funding into overall relief program efforts with anticipated distribution in the latter half of 2022.
 
“The NEA’s significant investment in local arts agencies, including the City of Austin, is a key element in helping the arts and culture sector recover and reopen, while ensuring that the American Rescue Plan funding is distributed equitably,” said Ann Eilers, NEA’s acting chair. “These grants recognize the vital role of local arts agencies and will allow them to help rebuild local economies and contribute to the well-being of our communities.”
 
“We are grateful to be approved for this funding from the National Endowment for the Arts,” says Sylnovia Holt Rabb, Acting Director for the Economic Development Department. “Our local arts organizations are critical to the foundation of Austin’s creative culture. We are proud to extend funding through the Cultural Arts Division to support arts education and make a lasting impact towards economic recovery.”
 
The Economic Development Department will develop programming to utilize the $500,000 award for sub-granting to eligible Austin arts education organizations and teaching artists. The Cultural Arts Division will manage the funds and will subgrant to individual teaching artists and organizations offering arts education activities, with a focus on underrepresented artists and organizations led by and actively serving communities of color. Funds can be used to support staff salaries, contracted personnel, facility fees, PPE and marketing expenses as well as to support artist fees/stipends relating to arts education activities like classes, workshops, and/or curriculum development.
 
This round of funding is the second of three installments of the NEA’s American Rescue Plan allocations. It totals over $20 million dollars awarded to 66 local arts agencies nationwide for subgranting. Last April, the NEA announced that 40 percent of its $135 million in ARP funding would be allocated to 62 state, jurisdictional, and regional arts organizations for regranting through their respective programs. The third installment of ARP funding to arts organizations to support their own operations will be announced in early 2022.
 
For more information on the NEA’s American Rescue Plan grants, including the full list of local arts agencies funded in this announcement, visit www.arts.gov/COVID-19/the-american-rescue-plan.
 
As additional economic recovery programs are developed, all eligibility details will be available on www.ATXrecovers.com.
 

###

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 www.austintexas.gov/eddor follow us @AustinEconDev on Facebook and @AustinEconDev on Twitter.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Uptick in COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters Administered Following Expanded Eligibility

 

APH administers more than 800 booster shots over the weekend

Following the authorization of expanded Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot eligibility by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Friday, Austin Public Health (APH) is offering booster shots for all individuals who are 18 years and older and fully vaccinated. Individuals are strongly encouraged to receive the booster doses as they provide additional protection from the virus and its variants. APH administered 816 boosters over the weekend, an increase of 144 percent over the previous week’s 334 doses. 

Moderna and Pfizer doses, along with Johnson & Johnson vaccines, are available at APH locations as well as pharmacies, medical offices and community clinics throughout the Austin-Travis County metropolitan area. 

“As we are learning more about the vaccines, we know it is important for individuals to get a booster to help stay protected against COVID-19,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority. “With the latest changes, it's recommended that anyone 18 and older get their booster when eligible. This is a critical step in ensuring we prevent future surges of COVID-19 cases.” 

Studies have shown the protection of the vaccine decreases over time and requires booster doses to help maintain maximum effectiveness. Those most affected by a decline in vaccine protection are: 

However, it is recommended that all individuals over the age of 18 receive booster doses to help stay protected from COVID-19. Individuals who received their second Pfizer or Moderna dose at least six months ago are eligible. For Johnson & Johnson, individuals can get a booster two months after receiving the initial dose. 

Under previous guidance from the CDC, eligible individuals can choose which vaccine they receive as a “mix-and-match” booster dose. Please remember to bring your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Card showing the original doses when going for booster shots.  

“Expanding booster access is an important step to ensure everyone can stay protected and healthy,” said Adrienne Sturrup, APH Interim Director. “We cannot get complacent – we must continue to work together to protect our families and loved ones by getting our booster shots.”

COVID-19 Vaccine Resources  

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and require neither identification nor insurance. Residents can locate providers in their area using Vaccines.gov (Vacunas.gov in Spanish), or they can text their zip code to 438829 (822862 in Spanish) to find a nearby clinic.  
   
For additional business guidance, visit www.ATXrecovers.com for recommendations to help prioritize the well-being of employees and customers.   
   
For COVID-19 information and updates, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.

Gift differently this holiday by shopping zero waste

 

Austin Resource Recovery Relaunches Reuse Directory to help
Austinites find the perfect gift 
Austin Resource Recovery (ARR), a department of the City of Austin, launches their 2021 ‘Give A Great Story’ holiday campaign, encouraging Austinites to rethink shopping and gifting this holiday season by shopping zero waste.

To reach Austin’s Zero Waste Goal, the community should rethink how and what they consume, especially around the holiday season when Americans produce 5.8 million tons more waste in December than in other months of the year. In addition to protecting the planet, gifting differently shows thoughtfulness and brings people closer together. When Austinites ‘Give A Great Story,’ they help reduce the number of unwanted gifts that find their way to the landfill by offering unforgettable experiences, purchasing pre-loved gifts, or repairing treasured items.

This year ARR is promoting the relaunch of the Austin Reuse Directory to help Austinites find goods and services that embrace zero waste gift giving. The directory can help residents find locations to buy thrift, vintage, or upcycled items, repair a beloved item, or gift rental services. Users can also find places to donate or sell gently used items in the spirit of giving back this holiday season. Currently, the directory is best viewed in a web browser on a desktop or laptop computer.

Giving zero waste gifts in place of newly purchased or produced items also benefits the local economy, keeps valuable items out of the landfill, and avoids spending the energy and resources required to manufacture new products.

Zero waste gift ideas include:
  • Supporting local Austin’s businesses and organizations (concerts, theatre performances, restaurant gift cards),
  • Crafty? Purchasing a second-hand sweater and turning it into a scarf, pillow cover, or a no-sew dog sweater,
  • Polishing a loved one’s favorite leather wallet or handbag.
Austinites can also reduce holiday waste by:
  • Reusing materials like newspaper, posters, maps, or fabric to wrap gifts,
  • Sending e-cards instead of mailing paper holiday cards,
  • Using and washing reusable tableware for holiday meals instead of single-use disposable options.
For more zero waste gift ideas follow us on Facebook @AustinRecycles

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 austinrecycles.com.

Buy Local on Small Business Saturday, November 27

The City of Austin Economic Development Department encourages everyone to invest in the Austin economy by spending local on Small Business Saturday, November 27. 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.  

"Small Business Saturday is an opportunity for Austinites to celebrate our local businesses," explains Sylnovia Holt-Rabb, Acting Director for the Economic Development Department. "We encourage shoppers to visit Austin Business Districts throughout the year to make a big impact. By spending your dollars locally, you are investing back into your community." 

Small businesses are foundational to a healthy economy by creating jobs and enhancing our community. The impact of spending 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 and dining locally extend far beyond individual transactions. Recent results from the 2020 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey noted more than half (56%) of small businesses surveyed agree that this year's Small Business Saturday is more critical than ever for their business and 78% say holiday sales will impact their ability to keep their doors open in 2022. 

Austin Business Districts 
Recognizing that small business is vital to the local economy, the Economic Development Department provides resources to help establish business districts that represent Austin's treasured character. Supported through the Souly Austin program and related district tools, these vibrant commercial districts offer a range of retail, restaurants, and services. 

Discover local restaurants, retail shops, and makers to support citywide. A few of Austin's culturally rich and diverse neighborhood business districts include: 

Positioned after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday serves as a critical launch into the holiday spending season for many local, small businesses still in rebound from the impacts of the pandemic. This national celebration was founded in 2010 by American Express and officially co-sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) since 2011. Learn more about Small Business Saturday and business promotional materials at ShopSmall.com. Share your favorites on social media using #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat.

Reminder for all Small Business Saturday shoppers: Stay safe by wearing a mask to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. Stay home and shop local online 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 www.austintexas.gov/edd or follow us on @AustinEconDev on Facebook and @AustinEconDev on Twitter.

Friday, November 19, 2021

2021 Thanksgiving Holiday No Refusal Initiative

The Austin Police Department is conducting a No Refusal Initiative that will coincide with the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday week. This initiative began November 18 and will be in effect through November 28. It will be operational from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. each day.

 
This initiative is an effort to enforce DWI laws, keep the public safe by encouraging drivers to make responsible decisions, and to apply for blood search warrants on suspects who refuse to provide a breath or blood specimen as required by law.
 
The Austin Police Department and the City of Austin Transportation Department are continuously focused on preventing lives from being lost on the streets, highways and waterways of Austin. The Department is dedicated to making the roadways and waterways of Austin safe for residents and visitors through education and enforcement.

The best holidays are COVID-free

When gathering for the holidays, Austin Public Health (APH) reminds everyone the best way to minimize the risk of COVID-19 is to make sure all eligible household members are fully vaccinated, especially when multiple generations plan to be together.

“There is no better gift you can give yourself and those around you than to be healthy and COVID-free,” said Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes. “Use the precautionary measures we know work so you can celebrate safely.”

Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to stay safe:

  • Fully vaccinate to protect high-risk individuals and those not yet eligible for vaccination.
  • Protect children and those around them by vaccinating children (5+ years).
  • Get a booster shot when eligible
  • Wear a well-fitting mask for large indoor gatherings and when with high-risk individuals.
  • Traveling? Plan and prepare for a COVID-safe trip.
  • Traveling internationally? Know your destination’s vaccination requirements.
  • Don’t travel if you’re sick.

When traveling, it’s important to know how quickly the virus is spreading in your own community and your destination. This information can be used to take correct precautions during your trip. For example, if you are traveling to an area with a high community transmission rate, you will want to mask and maintain social distance in groups, especially if you are unsure of others’ vaccination status.

Get “boosted” to ensure a safe holiday – and don’t forget the kids!

Protecting those at high risk of infection with boosters and third doses is critical to minimizing the spread, especially during the holidays. Studies increasingly show vaccines’ protection wanes over time; boosters are recommended six months after the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and two months after the one-shot Johnson & Johnson.

In order to be fully vaccinated before the holidays, keep in mind it takes two weeks for the vaccine (including boosters, third doses) to provide maximum efficacy. Based on that timeline, here’s when first doses must be administered to achieve full vaccination status in time for the holidays:

  • Christmas
    • Nov. 20- Pfizer
    • Dec. 11- Johnson & Johnson
  • Kwanzaa
    • Nov. 22- Pfizer
    • Dec. 13- Johnson & Johnson
  • New Year’s Day
    • Nov. 20 - Moderna
    • Nov. 27 – Pfizer
    • Dec. 18 – Johnson & Johnson

Fully vaccinated individuals are free to choose the vaccine used for their booster shot and “mix and match” vaccines. Some people may prefer to repeat their original vaccine type; others may want to get a different booster.

Children 5-11 years of age are now eligible for vaccination. Children proved to be especially vulnerable to hospitalization and even death from the Delta variant. Pediatric vaccinations are widely available through APH and its vaccine partners, including pharmacies and medical offices. Only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for pediatric vaccinations.

“We need to remember that COVID kills, devastating families,” said Interim Public Health Director Adrienne Sturrup. “As a community, we have the power to prevent tragedy and protect our families  by vaccinating, masking, testing and staying home when sick.”

Sniffles? Get Tested!

It’s easy to confuse COVID-19 symptoms with those of the flu and allergies. Stay safe and get tested, especially prior to traveling and gathering with high-risk individuals. Testing is available through home testing kits and providers throughout the community. APH offers COVID-19 testing free of charge--with or without an appointment--for the homebound and at its clinic locations. Schedule online at http://covid19.austintexas.gov or by calling 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000. As with all APH testing sites, the services are free.

Get Vaccinated!

COVID-19 vaccinations continue to prove extremely effective at protecting those who have completed the initial two doses of Moderna and Pfizer and the single dose of Johnson & Johnson, as well as the recommended booster and third shots for high-risk individuals whose immunity is decreasing.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and require neither identification nor insurance. Residents can locate providers in their area using Vaccines.gov (Vacunas.gov in Spanish), or they can text their zip code to 438829 (822862 in Spanish) to find a nearby clinic.
 
For additional business guidance, visit www.ATXrecovers.com for recommendations to help prioritize the well-being of employees and customers.    

For additional COVID-19 information and updates, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19

Austin Water Saves Millions through State Funding for Water, Wastewater and Metering Infrastructure Overhaul

Funds will enhance resilience to extreme weather and emergency events Austin's push to modernize and strengthen its water, wastewater ...