Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Texas Expands Vaccine Eligibility to All Adults


Mar 30, 2021 03:24 pm

Todos los adultos califican para la vacuna en Texas

Publicado el 30 de marzo de 2021

Aprobación de las vacunas 

Quién califica para la vacuna

  • El estado expandió recientemente los criterios de calificación de la vacuna para incluir a todas las personas de 16 años de edad o más.
    • Nota: Todas las vacunas están autorizadas para personas de 18 años o más, pero solo la vacuna de Pfizer está autorizada para las personas de 16 años o más.
  • Todos los adultos pueden pre-registrarse a través de Salud Pública de Austin (APH), pero APH continuará dándoles prioridad a las citas de acuerdo con la edad y el riesgo de enfermarse de gravedad.
  • La demanda de vacunas de estos grupos que califican excede el suministro que tienen muchos proveedores en el área de Austin.

Datos sobre la vacunación

  • APH lanzó un Panel de estadísticas de distribución de vacunas contra el COVID-19 que incluye el total de dosis administradas por APH organizadas por grupo prioritario de edad, código postal, raza/origen étnico y la población estimada para el 2019 en el Condado de Travis con el porcentaje de personas de 65 años o más como contexto.
  •  Como parte de un programa estatal para abrir centros regionales piloto de vacunación contra el COVID-19, a partir del 11 de enero APH ha recibido cada semana 12,000 vacunas para la primera dosis de parte del DSHS de Texas. 
  • Desde el lanzamiento del sistema de pre-registro el 13 de enero, más de 454,000 personas se han pre-regisrado, con más de 338,000 personas que califican de acuerdo con los criterios actuales.

Proveedores de vacunas

  • APH es uno de los dos centros de vacunación locales. La meta de estos centros es proveerles a más personas la vacuna y una manera sencilla de registrarse para una cita, para que no tengan que llamar a una larga lista de proveedores todas las semanas en busca de la vacuna. 
  • APH abre las citas para la primera dosis todas las semanas los lunes en la tarde. Si hubiera más vacunas disponibles durante la semana, APH abrirá más citas los jueves en la tarde todas las semanas.
  • Las farmacias participantes en el Programa Federal de Farmacias para la Vacunación contra el COVID-19 han comenzado a recibir asignaciones directas de la vacuna del gobierno federal. Las personas interesadas en vacunarse en su farmacia local deben visitar el sitio web de la farmacia para averiguar si tiene disponible la vacuna contra el COVID-19 y si califican para ponérsela. 
  • Varios proveedores locales reciben asignaciones más pequeñas de vacunas cada semana. Puede encontrar una lista de proveedores locales en centraltxvaccs.org y vaccinefinder.org.

Segundas dosis

  • La vacuna contra COVID-19 de Johnson & Johnson solo requiere una inyección, mientras que las de Pfizer y Moderna requieren una serie de dos dosis con tres (Pfizer) o cuatro (Moderna) semanas de separación. Las personas que reciban las vacunas de Pfizer y Moderna recibirán una tarjeta de vacunación que muestra cuál vacuna recibieron, el número de lote y cuándo deben regresar para la segunda dosis.  
  • APH recibe actualmente la vacuna de Moderna y está haciendo las citas para las segundas dosis manualmente y comunicando la fecha, hora y lugar por correo electrónico, llamada o mensaje de texto.  
  • Si recibió su primera dosis de Salud Pública de Austin y han pasado 42 días o más desde que se la puso y aún no ha recibido una cita para la segunda, puede presentarse en persona en uno de nuestros centros de vacunación y mostrar su tarjeta para recibir su segunda dosis.
  • Aunque la segunda dosis se debe administrar lo más cercano posible al periodo de 21 o 28 días recomendado, los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC) recomiendan que no se debe poner la segunda dosis de la vacuna antes del periodo recomendado de 3 a 4 semanas, y se la puede poner hasta 42 días o 6 semanas más tarde. 
  • Si no puede ponerse la segunda dosis en el tiempo recomendado, no tiene que comenzar de nuevo. Aunque no ponerse la segunda dosis en el tiempo recomendado retrasa la protección completa de la vacuna, todavía puede recibir la segunda dosis más tarde si tiene dificultades para recibirla dentro del tiempo recomendado. Obtendrá la protección completa de la vacuna de 1 a 2 semanas después de la segunda dosis. 

Efectos secundarios

  • La FDA publicó hojas de datos sobre las vacunas de Pfizer,  Moderna y Johnson & Johnson que incluyen información sobre los ingredientes y efectos secundarios de la vacuna para quienes la reciban y para las personas que cuidan de otras. 
  • Aunque la vacuna contra el COVID-19 puede causar efectos secundarios tales como cansancio, dolor de cabeza, fiebre, escalofríos, náuseas, dolor muscular y dolor en las articulaciones, estos efectos secundarios demuestran que la vacuna está funcionando. 
  • Luego de ponerse la vacuna, la persona debe ser monitoreada por al menos 15 minutos para asegurarse de que no tenga una reacción alérgica aguda. Las personas con historia de reacciones alérgicas deben ser monitoreadas durante 30 minutos.  
  • La FDA y los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC) continuarán monitoreando la seguridad de las vacunas contra el COVID-19 para asegurarse de que incluso los más raros efectos secundarios sean identificados. V-SAFE es un nuevo verificador de salud para teléfonos inteligentes para monitorear la salud después de vacunarse para las personas que reciban la vacuna de COVID-19. 
  • Las vacunas contra el COVID-19 no usan el virus vivo y no pueden contagiarle a usted con COVID-19. La vacuna no altera su ADN. La vacuna contra el COVID-19 le ayudará a protegerse creando una respuesta inmunológica sin tener que experimentar la enfermedad. 

Continuación de precauciones 

  • Si bien hay un número limitado de vacunas disponibles en nuestra comunidad, las personas deben continuar tomando medidas adicionales de prevención del COVID-19 incluyendo: usar una mascarilla, guardar el distanciamiento social, lavarse las manos a menudo, cubrirse al estornudar o toser, limpiar con frecuencia las superficies que se tocan mucho y quedarse en casa si están enfermas. 
  • El CDC publicó recientemente las guías para aquellas personas que están completamente vacunadas. Las personas que están completamente vacunadas pueden:
    • Visitar en espacios cerrados a otras personas que están completamente vacunadas sin usar mascarillas ni guardar el distanciamiento social
    • Visitar en espacios cerrados sin usar mascarillas ni guardar el distanciamiento social a las personas que no han recibido la vacuna que pertenecen a un solo hogar y que están en menos riesgo de enfermarse de COVID-19
    • Abstenerse de hacer cuarentena y realizarse una prueba después de una exposición conocida si no presentan síntomas

Para información adicional sobre la vacuna contra el COVID-19, visite www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19-Vaccines. 





Mar 30, 2021 03:19 pm

Texas Expands Vaccine Eligibility to All Adults

Published March 30, 2021 

Vaccine Approval 

Vaccine Eligibility

  • The state recently expanded vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 years of age and older.
    • Note: All vaccines are authorized for people age 18 and older, but only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for people 16 and older.
  • All adults can pre-register through Austin Public Health (APH), but APH will continue to prioritize appointments by age and risk for severe disease.
  • The demand for vaccines in these eligible groups is exceeding the supply of many providers across the Austin area. 

Vaccine Data

  • APH released a COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Dashboard, which includes the total of APH-administered doses organized by priority age group, zip code, race/ethnicity, and the estimated 2019 Travis County population with the percentage of those 65 years of age and older for context.
  • As part of a statewide program to pilot regional COVID-19 vaccine hubs, Austin Public Health (APH) has received 12,000 first doses per week since Jan. 11 from Texas DSHS. 
  • Since the launch of the pre-registration system on Jan. 13, more than 454,000 people have pre-registered, with more than 338,000 people meeting the current eligibility criteria.

Vaccine Providers

  • APH is one of two local vaccine hubs. The goal of these hubs is to provide more people the vaccine and a simpler way to sign up for an appointment, so they don't have to call a long list of providers every week looking for vaccine. 
  • APH releases first dose appointments weekly on Monday evenings. Should additional vaccine doses become available later in the week, APH will conduct another appointment release on Thursday evening of each week.
  • Local pharmacies participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination have started to receive direct allocations from the federal government. Individuals who are interested in getting vaccinated at their local pharmacy should check the pharmacy's website to find out if COVID-19 vaccine is available and if they are eligible for vaccination. 
  • A handful of other local providers receive smaller allocations each week. A list of local providers can be found at centraltxvaccs.org and vaccinefinder.org.

Second Doses

  • The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine only requires one shot, while Pfizer and Moderna require a series of two doses given three (Pfizer) or four (Moderna) weeks apart. Pfizer and Moderna vaccine recipients will get a vaccination card showing which vaccine and lot number they received and when they should return for a second dose.  
  • APH currently receives the Moderna vaccine and is manually scheduling second doses by emailing, calling, or texting a date, time, and location.  
  • If you received your first dose through Austin Public Health and it has been 42 or more days since your first dose and you have not received an appointment, you may walk-up to our vaccine sites and present your vaccine card to receive your second dose.
  • While the second dose should be administered as close to the recommended 21- or 28-day interval as possible, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended 3- or 4-week interval, and can get it up to 42 days or 6 weeks later. 
  • If you are unable to get your second dose in the recommended timeframe, you do not have to start over. While missing the suggested interval delays full protection, you can still get the second dose later if you have difficulty getting it within the recommended time. You will get full protection from the vaccine 1–2 weeks after getting your second dose. 

Side Effects

  • The FDA released fact sheets on the Pfizer vaccineModerna vaccine, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine for recipients and caregivers that includes information on vaccine ingredients and side effects. 
  • While the COVID-19 vaccine may cause side effects such as fatigue, headache, fever, chills, nausea, muscle pain, and joint pain, these side effects show that the vaccine is working.  
  • Vaccine recipients should be monitored for at least 15 minutes for a more serious allergic reaction. People who have a history of allergic reactions should be monitored for 30 minutes.  
  • The FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines to make sure even very rare side effects are identified. V-SAFE is a new smartphone-based, after-vaccination health checker for people who receive COVID-19 vaccines.  
  • COVID-19 vaccines do not use the live virus and cannot give you COVID-19. The vaccine does not alter your DNA. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an immune response without having to experience sickness. 

Continued Precautions 

  • Even with limited vaccines available in our community, people need to continue to take additional COVID-19 prevention measures including: wearing a mask, social distancing, washing your hands often, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning frequently touched surfaces, and staying home if you're sick.  
  • The CDC has recently published guidance for those who are fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated people can:
    • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
    • Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
    • Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic

For additional COVID-19 vaccine information, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19-Vaccines.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Austin Public Health Testing and Vaccination Registration Will Be Offline for Upgrades

   

Austin Public Health Testing and Vaccination Registration Will Be Offline for Upgrades 

Austin, Texas – Austin Public Health (APH) is rolling out upgrades this evening, Mar. 30, to the online COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Registration site.  

While the upgrades are taking place, the site will be intermittently offline starting at 7 p.m. During this time, residents will be unable to log in to schedule a test or register for a vaccine. 

Once the upgrades are complete, there will be a new user-friendly design and interface in place, along with the ability for the public to log in and update their account if they received a vaccine from another provider, which will in turn remove them from the APH list.

The site will also have further integration with ImmTrac2, which is the state's immunization registry. Through this integration, the system will have the ability to automatically cancel appointments if someone schedules a first dose appointment through APH and ImmTrac2 data shows that they already had a first dose vaccination through a different provider.

APH has continually been making improvements to the site, and over the past month has also added the following features: 

  • View and print a copy of your vaccination record  
  • Opt out of emails  
  • Update account information, including contact information and emergency contacts

As a reminder, APH offers walk-up COVID-19 testing without an appointment at the Ana Lark Center (2-7 p.m. Tues/Fri and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Wed/Thurs/Sat) and Southeast Branch Library (8 a.m.-1 p.m. Mon/Tues/Fri/Sat and 3-7 p.m. Wed/Thurs). Additional vaccine providers can also be located at www.VaccineFinder.org

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


Monday, March 29, 2021

City Seeking Public Input for FY 21-22 Action Plan Draft that Guides Prioritization of Programs and Addresses Community Needs


 City Seeking Public Input for FY 21-22 Action Plan Draft that Guides Prioritization of Programs and Addresses Community Needs

Austinites may provide comments that will help develop the Draft FY 21-22 Action Plan by Apr. 30, 2021

Austin, TX – The City of Austin Housing and Planning Department (HPD) and Austin Public Health (APH) are seeking public input on what programs and community needs to prioritize in the FY-21-22 Action Plan, specifically relating to housing, community development, economic development, homelessness assistance, and public services. Austinites can complete a brief survey by April 30 to provide comments that will be considered as the Action Plan is drafted.  

Each year, the City of Austin prepares an Action Plan – a plan detailing the amount of federal funding to be allocated to various housing and public service programs (i.e. Emergency Rental Assistance, Minor Home Repair), and setting goals for how many low- to moderate-income people will be served by these programs over the coming year. The Action Plan serves as a grant application submitted to the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) to qualify for the following grants: Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG), and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA). 

Additionally, the City of Austin will collect public input and assess the needs of the community as part of the drafting of the Action Plan with two public hearings to be held Monday, April 13th by the Community Development Commission, and Thursday, April 22nd by the City Council. 

For more information and to provide comments, visit the FY21-22 Action Plan SpeakUp page or contact the Housing and Planning Department at HPD@austintexas.gov or by phone at 512-974-3100. 

Texas Water Conference Goes Virtual for its 26th Year


Texas Water Conference Goes Virtual for Its 26th Year

AUSTIN, TX – Austin Water is proud to be hosting Texas WaterTM 2021, The Largest Regional Water Conference in the U.S.©. The conference, in its 26th year, will be held virtually Monday, March 29 through Thursday, April 1. Water industry professionals from Texas and beyond will attend virtual sessions and tours, both interactive and on demand.

In the midst of very challenging times, the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association (TAWWA)  and the Water Environment Association of Texas (WEAT) continue their mission of advancing the clean water and drinking water professions and protecting the health of Texas communities and the environment.

"The water industry has never been more essential than it is today," said Julie Narhgang, Executive Director of the Water environment Association of Texas. "We look forward to meeting in person in the near future, but for now we are happy to offer over 160 peer reviewed technical sessions, presented by the top experts in our industry, to target the most important issues facing water and wastewater professionals today."

Nearly all of the conference presentations are approved for up to thirty Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) water and wastewater operator training hours over the next ninety days, affording utility operators a unique opportunity to receive course credit for leading edge peer reviewed hours, while saving Texas utilities dollars in training expenses.

Visit txwater.org to view the complete list of speakers and topics. Highlights include:

  • Keynote Speaker- Tracy King, State Representative and Chair of House Natural Resources Committee
  • Interactive and On-demand opportunities for attendees, presenters, exhibitors, and sponsors
  • Over 160 peer reviewed technical sessions and a virtual exhibit hall
  • Curtis Smalley Environmental Event and Panel
  • Virtual Tours for attendees of Austin Water facilities
    • Water Treatment Plants and Zebra Mussel Mitigation
    • South Austin Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant

"Although a virtual conference, Austin is still being honored as the "host city", said Mike Howe, Executive Director of the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association. "We would like to thank the wonderful volunteers from Austin Water and throughout the TAWWA and WEAT organizations who have been planning for months to make Texas WaterTM 2021 – Virtual a success."


MEDIA NOTES:  Interviews are available upon request. Media availabilities include:

Julie Nahrgang, Executive Director, Water Environment Association of Texas
Mike Howe, Executive Director, Texas Section of the American Water Works Association
Shay Ralls Roalson, P.E., Assistant Director, Engineering Services, Austin Water
Rick Coronado, P.E., Assistant Director, Operations, Austin Water

About Austin Water
For over 100 years, Austin Water has been committed to providing safe, reliable, high-quality, and affordable water services to our customers. Today, we serve over 1,000,000 people in the Austin metropolitan area, across more than 548 square miles.

The utility draws water from the Colorado River into three regional water treatment plants, Handcox, Davis, and Ullrich, which have a combined capacity of 335 million gallons per day.

Austin Water has two wastewater treatment plants, Walnut Creek and South Austin Regional, that can receive up to 150 million gallons per day of sewage to treat. Wastewater is cleaned into high-quality effluent that is safely returned to the Colorado River to augment environmental flows. More than a billion gallons of this high-quality effluent are reclaimed each year for outdoor irrigation, industrial cooling, manufacturing, and other uses. For more, visit austinwater.org.

About TAWWA
Texas AWWA is the largest group of utility and water professionals in Texas. The organization is dedicated to protecting public health by providing solutions to effectively manage the world's most vital resource. Find out more at tawwa.org.

About WEAT
The Water Environment Association of Texas is a non-profit organization of professionals who benefit society through protecting and enhancing the environment by providing education on the impact and value of water. Find out more at weat.org.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Austin Public Health Urges Community to Continue Wearing Masks to Save Lives


Austin Public Health Urges Community to Continue Wearing Masks to Save Lives

July 2020 Health Authority Rules Stay in Place After Court Refuses State's Application for Injunction

Austin Public Health is urging the community to continue wearing masks to halt the spread of COVID-19 after a Court declined to grant the State of Texas an injunction voiding the local health authority's mask mandate and related rules.
 
The Court decision recognizes the importance of local rules in promoting public health in the community, keeping essential workers safe and ensuring our business community can thrive by driving down COVID-19 transmission.
 
Dr. Mark Escott, interim health authority for Austin-Travis County, told the 261st Civil District Court Friday, March 26, that people wearing masks may have saved 1,100 lives over the past year.
 
"Data reports on COVID-19 cases and deaths per capita show that, compared with other jurisdictions in the State of Texas, Austin is doing better than most," Dr. Escott said. "We have seen that masking is perhaps the most important of public health mitigation strategies for COVID-19. It's clear we haven't beaten COVID-19 yet. If we can maintain protections it will enable us to get more people vaccinated and ultimately it's going to save lives."
 
Earlier this month, after Texas Governor Greg Abbott lifted his statewide mask mandate, Austin-Travis County emphasized that the health authority rules initially adopted in July 2020, remain in place through April 15, 2021, unless modified or extended.
 
Under the existing health authority rules, businesses and other sites must require individuals to wear a face covering, with some exceptions. Businesses should also clean and disinfect high touch items, require at least six feet between groups of ten or less, and post face covering and hygiene signage. In the City of Austin, an individual must also wear a face covering when outside of their residence. These rules remain in place following today's ruling.

The health authority is currently in Stage 3 of the Austin Public Health (APH) COVID-19 Risk-Based Guidelines, which include the following recommendations:  
  • Continue wearing a mask, social distancing, and practicing good hygiene. 
  • Higher-risk individuals (those over the age of 65 and those who have chronic medical conditions) should avoid non-essential dining, shopping, and travel. 
  • Everyone should continue to avoid gatherings with social groups greater than 10. 
  • Businesses and restaurants voluntarily operate at a reduced capacity of 50-75%.

Food, Water and PPE Distribution Honors César Chávez in a ¡Si Se Puede! Day of Action/Community Service Event




Food, Water and PPE Distribution Honors César Chávez in ¡Si Se Puede! Day of Action Event

Councilwoman Vanessa Fuentes joins the Austin Latino Coalition, an alliance of Latino organizations and individuals established to promote civic involvement and self-determination by Latinos in the city, to honor the legacy and celebrate the 94th birthday of the civil rights and labor movement leader César Chávez on Saturday, March 27, 2021, 9 a.m. to noon at Eastside Memorial Early College High School (1012 Arthur Stiles Road).
 
The César Chávez ¡Si Se Puede! Day of Action/Community Service will provide community members an opportunity to take action while serving fellow Austinites in need by distributing free food, fresh produce/fruit, water and PPE supplies, as well as offering on-site voter registration.
 
"César Chávez continues to be an inspirational figure for Latinos across the world," says Councilwoman Fuentes. "His service is a reminder of the selfless ways in which we can commit ourselves to help others. I am grateful to be a part of this event and thank all of the other sponsors and the Austin Latino Coalition for their dedication to serve the Latino people and beyond."
 
The community is invited to drive-thru the event while supplies last. 
 
Partners for the event include the Central Texas Food Bank, Tito's Handmade Vodka, Latino HealthCare Forum, Austin ISD, Eastside Memorial Early College High School, Austin Councilwoman Vanessa Fuentes, Austin Council Member Pio Renteria and Travis County Constable George Morales. 
 
Who: Austin Latino Coalition
 
What: César Chávez ¡Si Se Puede! Day of Action/Community Service (drive-thru)
 
When: Saturday, March 27, 2021, 9 a.m. to Noon
A brief program commemorating the life and legacy of César Chávez is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. with remarks by community leaders and elected officials, followed by the distribution of supplies to the community at 9 a.m.
 
Where: Eastside Memorial Early College High School, 1012 Arthur Stiles Road
(Parking lot back of school near Performing Arts Center and Soccer Fields off Gardner Road)

Tenants’ Rights at the Forefront of Approved Resolution to Address Health and Safety Violations Resulting from Winter Storm Uri




Tenants' Rights at the Forefront of Approved Resolution to Address Health and
Safety Violations Resulting from Winter Storm Uri

The City of Austin took steps on Thursday, March 25 to address the lack of rights for tenants, which were highlighted during Winter Storm Uri. In passing Agenda Item 112, City Council calls to develop tools and resources to address health and safety violations from the winter freeze and support tenant assistance.
 
"Tenants' rights have long been a concern in our community," says Councilwoman Vanessa Fuentes, who brought forth the resolution. "I can tell you firsthand, it was troubling to see the damage done by the storm to some of the apartments in my district. Recognizing the lack of resources to offer them adequate help during such a great time of need was even worse."
 
Broken pipes and water outages were major concerns in multi-family units last month. This resolution offers protections for those immediate needs and works to address the greater demands to support renters.
 
The City Manager is directed to seek the rapid repair of health and safety violations that are persisting over a month since the end of the winter storm, specifically where residents report that they are enduring unsafe and noncompliant conditions in their homes.
 
This includes accelerated timeframes for initial compliance from landlords and escalates violations when compliance is not achieved during the initial phase, as well as offers relocation services when necessary.
 
To support this, the resolution expands the 3-1-1 hotline and makes available more multilingual dispatchers. It increases funding for community-based legal services and tenants' rights clinics. And it directs additional funding for rent relief, repairs and utility bill relief through funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
 
"Housing is a human right," says Councilwoman Fuentes. "In passing this resolution, we are telling tenants that their rights matter just as much as everyone else who calls Austin home. Thank you to my co-sponsors in their initiative to better protect tenants."
 
Co-sponsors include: Council Members Greg Casar, Sabino Pio Renteria, Alison Alter, and Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison.


Mobile Vaccine Clinics, Mental Health Resources and Employee Protections for COVID-19 Push Forward with Unanimous City Council Support




 

Mobile Vaccine Clinics, Mental Health Resources and Employee Protections
for COVID-19 Push Forward with Unanimous City Council Support

City Council voted unanimously on Thursday, March 25 to support Agenda Item 66, which directs the City Manager to address the continued impact of COVID-19. The resolution calls to prioritize mobile vaccine clinics, mental health resources and employee protections to better assist those in need.
 
"This resolution signifies a meaningful moment during a month that marks a grim milestone," says Councilwoman Vanessa Fuentes, who authored the item. "One year into the pandemic, we are still seeing people of color and marginalized folks experience the inequities highlighted by this pandemic. With this vote, we're going to get mobile vaccine clinics in areas of need and protect employees who currently have to choose between their livelihood and their health."
 
Additionally, Item 66 works to increase food access for those in need and pushes for additional funding and grants for small businesses.
 
"Just about every stage of this pandemic has illuminated an old set of vulnerabilities we've ignored for far too long," says co-sponsor Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison. "With the federal government stepping up and offering a historic relief package, I'm excited to see what kind of opportunities we can take to complete a resounding alley-oop for equity."
 
Funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and FEMA disaster assistance will be accessed to reach these solutions.
 
"As American Rescue Plan funding is disbursed across the country, it is critical that we prioritize our most vulnerable Austinites," says Council Member Paige Ellis, another co-sponsor of Item 66. "I appreciate Council Member Fuentes taking the lead to address the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color, seniors, homebound individuals, low-income folks, and those with ongoing physical and mental health challenges."
 
Addressing the inequities of the pandemic response has been a priority for Councilwoman Fuentes.
 
"Half of all the deaths in Austin-Travis County have been Latinos," she says. "Yet, the vaccine distribution does not reflect the impact they have faced. It's not too late to change that."
 
Austin Public Health data also shows about 80% of the deaths were people over the age of 60.
 
"It's critically important we continue to identify and implement ways to improve the city's rescue and relief efforts," says co-sponsor Council Member Ann Kitchen.
 
We need to remove barriers and enable everyone to get vaccinated. This resolution provides direction for the recent federal dollars, in part, to prioritize mobile testing and vaccine programs. Some of our seniors, homebound, minority, and low-income communities living in multi-generational settings are challenged to access our sign-ups and assistance. Doing more is necessary."
 
Council Member Kathie Tovo also co-sponsored this resolution.

Deep Eddy Pool Annual Maintenance


Deep Eddy Pool Annual Maintenance
Deep Eddy Pool, 401 Deep Eddy Ave., will close Sunday, April 11 through Sunday, May 2 for its annual spring cleaning. The pool will reopen on Monday, May 3 and will resume modified normal hours of operation. 
 
During the closure, the facility will be painted, cleaned and repaired. This closure is a week longer than previous closures in order to address unforeseen storm repair items and cracks in the pool shell. 
 
While Deep Eddy Pool is closed, please check AustinTexas.gov/Pools for the hours of operation for City of Austin pools. The hours of operation for Barton Springs Pool, 2201 Barton Springs Rd., are listed below.
 
Barton Springs Pool Schedule
  • 5:00 AM – 8:00 AM Daily: Swim at Your Own Risk
  • 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday: Guarded Swim
For more information, please call Austin Parks and Recreation Department's Aquatic Administration and Training Center at 512-974-9330.
    

Travis County Surpasses 25% of Adult Residents Partially or Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19


 

Travis County Surpasses 25% of Adult Residents Partially or Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19 

Data shows that early vaccination efforts in long-term care facilities have decreased cases

Austin, Texas – Three months into the local COVID-19 vaccine distribution, state data indicates that more than 29% of adult Travis County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 12% being fully vaccinated.  

Additionally, Austin Public Health (APH) data shows that APH alone has administered 139,452 cumulative first and second doses as of Mar. 20. 

"We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on everyone," said APH Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard. "Whether that be physically or emotionally, everyone has had to change their daily routines and limit interactions that were once normal. These sacrifices have not gone unnoticed, and our community has done comparatively well in limiting COVID-19 cases and deaths. As supply increases and more people are able to get vaccinated, we will be able to begin a return to normalcy." 

The beginning of the vaccine rollout focused on frontline healthcare workers as well as staff and residents of long-term care facilities (LTCFs). By prioritizing LTCFs for vaccination early on, associated cases and deaths at these facilities have plummeted in recent weeks.  

As of Mar. 18, LTCFs had only six new COVID-19 cases reported in the previous 14 days, representing a 98% decrease compared to Jan. 21 when 273 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the previous 14 days. 

"Last year as we began to understand how much COVID-19 would impact our community, one of the first steps we took was implementing control orders for nursing homes, assisted living and other long-term care facilities," said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "From day one, it has been critical that we protect our most vulnerable populations, and this remained important as the vaccine rollout began." 

Dr. Escott added: "Every person living in a long-term care facility is someone's loved one – mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers. By prioritizing them at the beginning of vaccine distribution, additional lives were saved and has improved the ability of family members to more safely visit their loved ones in these facilities." 

As the state expands vaccine eligibility to all adults beginning on Monday, Mar. 29, APH will continue to prioritize based on age and risk for severe disease.  

Travis County is home to 129,438 individuals 65 years of age and older, and state data shows that 78,314 people (60.5%) in this prioritized age group have received at least one dose, with 23.4% of APH doses administered to those 60 years of age and older. 

APH looks forward to the additional vaccine supply that the state is expecting next week, and while APH continues to prioritize vaccine appointments, all adults can register through APH or locate additional providers at www.VaccineFinder.org. Until Travis County reaches a level of herd immunity through vaccination, please continue to wear a mask, social distance, and practice good hygiene. 

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

Thursday, March 25, 2021

City Council Approves Reimagined APD Cadet Academy Blueprint




City Council Approves Reimagined APD Cadet Academy Blueprint

Pilot Cadet Class Could Begin in June if Criteria are Met

The Austin City Council Thursday approved City Manager Spencer Cronk's blueprint for a reimagined Austin Police Department (APD) cadet academy, the first step toward creating the first class of the reimagined cadet academy this summer.

The pathway to a new reimagined academy will consist of three parts:
  • Increased community involvement
  • Establishing a culture of adult learning
  • Transformative change 
"I'm proud of the incredible amount of work staff and the community have done to put us on the path to a reimagined police cadet academy," said City Manager Spencer Cronk. "This blueprint is the first step of a collaborative and iterative process of transforming the academy and creating a core focus on community input, emphasizing servant leadership, and curriculum and teaching methods that infuse diversity, equity, and inclusion."
 
The blueprint meets the following objectives: 
  • Addresses concerns about academy curriculum, training techniques, and learning objectives identified by Council and the community in the past;
  • Incorporates recommendations from both Kroll Associates, Inc. and the APD internal reviews of the academy under Council Resolution 20191205-066;
  • Acknowledges the work of, and incorporates input from, the Community Video Review Panel, the City-Community Reimagining Public Safety (RPS) Task Force, and other community members, as well as from our own Equity Office and the Office of Police Oversight;
  • Serves as a launching point for real reforms to academy learning objectives, curriculum, and training that align with the public safety expectations of the Council and our community; and
  • Addresses the City's need to maintain adequate staffing within APD to provide for the public's safety and welfare.
Cronk emphasized that there are several criteria in three key areas that must be put in place to move forward including:

Community Involvement

The police academy should involve the community in the development of officers that will protect and serve them. Specific community involvement will include:
  • Participation on the Academy Curriculum Review Committee
  • Co-creation of a pilot pre-academy community connect workshop and programming
  • Co-facilitation with community subject matter experts of courses
  • Formalization of the video review process with community participation
A Culture of Adult Learning

The academy's teaching methodology must include an emphasis on:  
  • Adult learning strategies, such as the use of scenario-based training tools and realignment of course schedule to ensure that cadets are given the proper space to retain and process course content. Two additional civilian staff and a training division manager have been added to APD that will facilitate this improved culture of adult learning, support, and innovation.
  • All course materials will be reviewed to ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion are prioritized and aligned with our values
  • Academy faculty will be retrained in various teaching methods and given opportunities for expanded professional development that will replace the prior paramilitary approach of the training academy
  • Formalization of academy faculty evaluation/review process, including the Academy Curriculum Review Committee
Transformative Change

The leadership expectation is that with the implementation of these recommendations, the academy will have a new focus on servant leadership, increased community input and participation, updated curriculum and teaching methods that infuse diversity, equity and inclusion lens, and oversight by an independent evaluator to ensure the changes have been implemented and are achieving desired outcomes.

Cronk emphasized that continued community engagement and public input are crucial to the ongoing success of the academy. The public can share their input and recommendations to improve the diversity, equity and inclusion of the academy on the RPS feedback portal on SpeakUp Austin! in English and Spanish.

Resuming the academy on June 7, 2021 is contingent upon the completion of all steps in the City Manager's Blueprint along with additional progress reporting, community input, independent evaluation, and budget criteria for the 144th and future cadet classes. City staff will report back to Council periodically including with updates from the independent evaluator.

"Through this process, I believe we'll emerge with an academy that reflects our community values and serves as a model for the rest of the nation," said Cronk.

To keep up with all activities related to the Reimagining Public Safety initiative visit: www.austintexas.gov/publicsafety.

Increased Risk of Harmful Algae on Lady Bird, Lake Austin


 

Increased Risk for Harmful Algae on Lady Bird Lake and Lake Austin

The City of Austin is changing the risk level for harmful algae on Lady Bird Lake and Lake Austin from "low risk" to "increased risk," given the recent discovery by LCRA of harmful algae in the other Highland Lakes. 

Watershed Protection Department staff has observed accumulations of algae in areas of Lady Bird Lake and is arranging to send samples to the University of Texas at Austin for testing. As a precaution, a sample was taken on Lake Austin and sent for testing last week. Results will be posted at AustinTexas.gov/Algae

A harmful algae bloom occurs when Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, produce toxins. Warm water, low flow through the lake and high levels of nutrients make harmful algae more likely. According to Brent Bellinger, Ph.D. Environmental Scientist Senior, "Blue-green algae proliferate in warmer times of the year. However, the specific ranges in which they can produce toxins is still under investigation. With the exception of the winter storm, we had a fairly warm winter this year, which probably contributed to the toxicity concerns we have seen so far in the Highland Lakes. We will continue to track algae quantity and toxicity through the spring as we get ready for the summer bloom season." 

Dogs appear particularly vulnerable to the harmful algae blooms in Central Texas. At least five dogs died after swimming in Lady Bird Lake during the summer of 2019. The City of Austin is recommending that dog owners be cautious about allowing their dogs in Lady Bird Lake or Lake Austin. If they allow their dogs in the water, it is at their own risk. 

Dog owners should take the following precautions: 

  • Check AustinTexas.gov/Algae for the latest information before taking their dogs to the lakes.
  • Do not allow dogs to touch or ingest algae in the lakes.
  • Avoid areas with floating mats of algae or stagnant areas of the lakes. Rinse dogs after contact with the lakes to help prevent them from licking algae off their fur. 

Dog owners should take their pets to a veterinarian immediately if their dogs become sick after swimming in the lakes. Please also report the illness to 3-1-1. Symptoms of exposure may include:  

  • Excessive drooling, vomiting and diarrhea 
  • Foaming at the mouth 
  • Jaundice and hepatomegaly 
  • Blood in urine or dark urine 
  • Stumbling 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Photosensitization in recovering animals 
  • Abdominal tenderness 
  • Progression of muscle twitches 
  • Respiratory paralysis

There is educational signage at six locations around Lady Bird Lake. If toxins are detected in the algae, additional signage will be placed in the same locations. 

At this time, the risk to people appears low, and people may continue to boat and fish. Swimming has been banned in Lady Bird Lake since 1964. 

There is more information about Lady Bird Lake at AustinTexas.gov/Algae and about Lake Travis and other Highland Lakes at LCRA.org.

Onion Creek Metro Park Gets a Recommitment in Needed Attention

Austin City Council approves resolution to ensure improvements are coming to  Onion Creek Metro Park ...