Friday, October 21, 2022

In the Driver’s Seat: Austin Working to Encourage Safe Driving Habits

 

National Teen Driver Safety Week is October 16-22

The City of Austin is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to empower parents to discuss safe driving habits with their young drivers. National Teen Driver Safety Week is October 16-22, making it the perfect opportunity to talk with teens about safe driving habits.

In Austin, approximately 970 crashes involved a teenage driver in 2020. Of those, over 50 crashes resulted in serious injuries or death.

Across the United States, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for teens (15-18 years old). Here are the national stats:
  • 2,276 people were killed in crashes involving a teen passenger vehicle driver (15-18 years old) in 2020.
  • 748 of the deaths were the teen driver.
  • In 2020, an estimated 90,564 teen passenger vehicle drivers were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes and an estimated 153,566 people were injured in crashes involving a teen driver, accounting for almost 7% of all roadway injuries that year.
  • 11 teens are killed daily in car crashes.
  • Half of the teens killed in crashes were not buckled. 
“National Teen Driver Safety Week is an opportunity for us to educate families on what teens need to do to become less distracted drivers," said Heidi Holmes, Associate Case Manager for Austin Municipal Court. "I believe our efforts can save lives even with the small tips and information we provide to them. As a mother of an aspiring teen driver, I think it is important that parents take away that it is ok to say no to your kids. It is our job to educate them, tell them to focus, turn the music down, and model that behavior. It could save your kids life or your own.”

Austin's Municipal Court (AMC) invites the public to join them at HopeFest on Saturday, Oct 22 from 9:30am - 3pm at Northeast Early College High School, 7104 Berkman Drive, Austin, TX 78752. AMC will have valuable information on teen driving safety and can answer questions on how your teen can get their first driver's license. For more information on the festival, call 512-653-4935 or e-mail hopefest@austinvoices.org

Check out the Texas Department of Public Safety site for information on teenager licenses. The Austin Municipal Court Youth Services office is also available at 512-974-4659 to help with questions.

For more information about National Teen Driver Safety, visit www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

City invites community to 5th Annual Roots & Wings Festival

 

50+ free events to celebrate butterflies, bees, trees and Austin nature 

 

The City of Austin invites our neighbors in the community to the 5th Annual Roots & Wings Festival, an annual citywide celebration of Arbor Day and Monarch Appreciation Day.  

The two-week schedule of more than 50 free events and activities runs from Oct. 22 through Nov. 5 at locations throughout the community.  

“We’re excited to support events planned by organizations across our community,” says Emily King, the City of Austin’s Urban Forester. “We believe this year’s diverse events schedule offers opportunities for more of Austin neighbors than ever before to access and enjoy the many benefits nature provides.” 

Scheduled activities include festival days at area parks, exhibits and activities at libraries, tree and flower planting events, tree climbing with professional arborists, trail walks, a monarch metamorphosis, and plenty more.  

The Roots & Wings Festival connects Austinites with trees, butterflies, bees, and all that nature has to offer within the city. This year’s festival holds extra significance, occurring months after Austin earned its certification as a Bee City USA Affiliate, recognizing our community’s commitment to conserving pollinators. 

All Roots & Wings activities are free to the public. Some events require pre-registration or facility-related fees. Check rootsandwingsfest.com for the full schedule, and plan your Roots & Wings experience for a day, a week, or the entire festival. 

Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead 2022: Saturday, November 5 from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

 

Presented by Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center
in Collaboration with Austin Veterans Art Festival (AVAfest)


The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (ESB MACC) presents their 15th annual celebration of Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead. This beloved tradition brings family and community together to celebrate the lives of ancestors, family and friends, veterans, and public figures. All events are free to the public.

There will be a multi-day celebration at the ESB MACC, 600 River St., that begins with the Austin Studio Tours Opening Reception on Tuesday, November 1, continues the following day with a viewing of the Dia de los Muertos "ofrendas" or altars, and culminates in the festival on Saturday, November 5 from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. On Saturday, November 5 for the gran fiesta, there will be free shuttle bus service from 4:30pm-10:30pm at Sanchez Elementary, 73 San Marcos St.

Details about the Dia de los Muertos celebration and festival activities at dayofthedeadatx.net.

About the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center 
The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (ESB-MACC) is dedicated to the preservation, creation, presentation, and promotion of the cultural arts of Mexican Americans and Latino cultures. Learn more at AustinTexas.gov/ESBMACC.

About Austin Veterans Arts Festival
The Austin Veteran Arts Festival’s mission is to unify veterans and their communities through art and enlighten the community on the issues surrounding veterans physically, mentally and emotionally by using art as a healing vehicle. For more information on the Austin Veterans Arts Festival, please contact Glenn Towery at avafestart@gmail.com.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Forklift Danceworks & Watershed Protection Present The Way of Water: Waller Creek

 

Spectacular Performance Exploring Water and the Work of People Who Steward It Will Premiere at Waterloo Greenway’s Creek Show
Forklift Danceworks and Watershed Protection are hosting a press conference with speakers from both organizations, Waterloo Greenway as well as United States Congressmen Lloyd Doggett and Texas Representative Sheryl Cole. 
 
Tuesday, October 25
10 a.m.
Waterloo Greenway, sidewalk across from the Inlet

 
Forklift Danceworks and Austin’s Watershed Protection Department will present The Way of Water: Waller Creek on November 17 at 7pm and November 18 & 19 at 7pm & 9pm at the Waller Creek Tunnel Inlet Facility at Waterloo Greenway. Set to live original music and with dramatic lighting, the spectacular performance will explore the way water moves through Downtown Austin, and what it means for our community.
 
The Way of Water: Waller Creek will gather more than two thousand people to see this urban waterway and the massive Tunnel Inlet Facility like never before,” said Krissie Marty, Forklift Associate Artistic and Community Collaborations Director. “Audiences will experience beauty in the movement of work, and the awe-inspiring human efforts and innovations that both support and confront the power of nature. ” “We are grateful to our partners at Waterloo Greenway for inviting us to present this performance during their annual Creek Show, which brings art to the water.
 
The performance will feature the movement and stories of approximately twenty-five employees of Watershed Protection Department. Workers across the department from the Lake Crew, who remove trash and debris from Lady Bird Lake, to environmental scientists who monitor water quality, will perform in The Way of Water: Waller Creek, showing the breadth of their work. The forty-five-minute dance will also feature more than fifteen vehicles including a forklift. And a live musical score by Austin composer Graham Reynolds will meld a pastoral string quartet with digital mechanistic sounds.
 
“It’s going to be unbelievable to see some of the things that Watershed Protection does on a day-to-day basis in the light of an artistic rendition, '' said Ramesh Swaminathan, Assistant Director, Watershed Protection. “Our field crews make a dump truck look beautiful and Forklift Danceworks is going to shine a light on the beauty inherent in the work of Watershed Protection.”
 
The Way of Water: Waller Creek is the first performance in a multi-year collaboration between Forklift Danceworks and Austin’s Watershed Protection Department, which works to reduce the impact of flooding, erosion, and water pollution in the community. Additionally, Watershed Protection staff work to protect Austin’s beloved creeks, lakes, and springs. This is Forklift’s seventh partnership with a City of Austin department.
 
 
Tickets are free with reservations at www.forkliftdanceworks.org
 
Performance Dates
November 17 at 7pm
November 18 & 19 at 7pm & 9pm
Waller Creek Tunnel Inlet Facility at Waterloo Greenway
 

10/16 - 10/22: Do Your Part During Infection Prevention Week

 


This week is International Infection Prevention Week. Each of us plays an important role in protecting our communities.  

With several large gatherings and numerous visitors in the Austin–Travis County area, APH urges you to celebrate safely and take preventive measures. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, flu or monkeypox, you should get tested and stay home to prevent spreading the virus to others. Additional ways to protect from all three viruses:  

  • Being fully clothed and avoiding skin-to-skin contact with strangers 
  • Avoiding close contact, which includes sharing items like drinks and blankets 
  • Washing your hands and using hand sanitation often 
  • Practicing social distancing while around large groups 
  • Wearing well-fitting masks in close quarters, when social distancing isn’t possible, to reduce sharing mouth/nasal fluids 
Be aware of symptoms: 
  • COVID-19: Fever, cough, fatigue, sore throat, shortness of breath, congestion/runny nose, headache and muscle aches, and loss of taste/smell 
  • Flu: Fever, cough, fatigue, sore throat, congestion/runny nose, headache and muscle aches 
  • Monkeypox: Along with rash, symptoms include fever, headache and muscle aches, chills, and swollen lymph nodes. 
  • Staying home if you feel sick or experience any symptoms 

Testing before and after attending gatherings will help you make informed decisions. COVID-19 PCR and rapid antigen (at-home) tests are available through APH as well as local pharmacies. Flu tests are available at local pharmacies and doctors’ offices. Testing for monkeypox is available through healthcare providers.  

The CDC has a website to help you find COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccine providers near you. Monkeypox vaccines are currently limited to those who are at risk for the virus. Complete this form to determine if you are eligible for a monkeypox vaccine. 

For more information about how to stay safe, visit the Austin–Travis County COVID-19/Monkeypox Safety Guide for Venues and Special Events

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: When to Get Screened

 


The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) lists breast cancer as a leading cause of cancer death among women in Texas.  

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women 50 to 74 get a mammogram every other year. Women with extra risk factors could start annual screenings at age 40. 

Finding breast cancer early makes it easier to treat. APH encourages individuals to get regular breast screening since it is the most effective way to fight breast cancer. Talk to your healthcare provider to learn more about your screening options and recommendations.  

Uninsured and underinsured women who are below the federal poverty level in Texas may be eligible to apply for free breast cancer screenings and diagnostic services such as clinical breast examinations, mammograms and breast biopsies. Eligibility requirements can be found on the DSHS website

Screening for breast cancer is available at clinics, hospitals and doctors’ offices. You can use this mammography facility finder tool from the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to find a screening facility near you. 

COVID-19 Bivalent Boosters Available for Kids in Time for Fall Gatherings

 


Being up to date with COVID-19 vaccines means getting updated booster doses for much of the population. APH supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) updated booster recommendations for everyone 5 and older at least two months after their most recent COVID-19 vaccine. Updated (bivalent) boosters offer broader protection against newer COVID-19 variants.   

While children 5 and older became eligible for COVID-19 vaccines almost a year ago, about half of Travis County’s 5-to-11-year-olds are not yet eligible for COVID-19 booster doses because they have not completed their primary vaccination series. About 40% of children 5 to 11 years of age have completed their primary series in Travis County.  

“Another wave of infections has begun in Europe and will likely reach the U.S. in the next few weeks. We can get ahead of this by getting the bivalent booster,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin–Travis County’s Health Authority. “The updated boosters can protect against serious illness caused by newer variants, including BA.5 sublineages BQ.1 and BQ.1.1. We need more people—especially children—to complete their primary series to better safeguard our community.” 

The World Health Organization is tracking more than 300 omicron sublineages, mostly of BA.5 or BA.2. As the virus continues to change, it is necessary to adjust recommendations accordingly. Updated (bivalent) boosters are available at pharmacies and private providers throughout the area. The APH Mobile Vaccination Program (MVP) has been administering them at pop-up clinics, and now even more people in Austin–Travis County are eligible for enhanced protection.   

COVID-19 booster dose eligibility highlights include: 

  • All children 5 and older can get Pfizer’s updated booster, and children 6 and older can get Pfizer or Moderna’s updated booster.  
  • Children who got Moderna’s primary vaccination series are now eligible for booster doses. Previously, only children 12 and older whose primary series was Moderna were eligible for boosters.  
  • People who have gotten more than one original (monovalent) booster are recommended to get an updated (bivalent) booster.   
  • There are specific recommendations for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.  

For more information on pediatric COVID-19 vaccines, visit CDC’s pediatric vaccine safety information

Extremely High Flu Activity in Travis County

 

The following statement is from Austin Public Health (APH), Ascension Seton and St. David’s HealthCare: 
 

“Dell Children’s Medical Center, part of Ascension Seton, and St. David’s Children’s Hospital are currently experiencing a greater number of patients in pediatric emergency departments. We are seeing a spike in respiratory illnesses among children, not just in Central Texas, but nationwide. Many children experiencing symptoms consistent with upper respiratory illness can receive care at a doctor’s office or urgent care clinic. 
 
Having the capacity to safely care for all patients is essential to providing ongoing healthcare services to our community, and we are asking for the community’s help. 
 
It is important that we reserve our emergency departments for patients with emergent medical conditions. We are encouraging parents to access the most appropriate site of care for their child’s medical needs. If a child has flu-like symptoms, parents should call their doctor or take their child to an urgent care clinic. If they are having trouble breathing or have some other type of related emergent condition, they should go to an emergency department.”  

What Can I Do to Help? Get Vaccinated. 

Getting your seasonal flu shot can help protect you and those around you from serious illness. It’s especially important considering flu activity is extremely high in Travis County right now. Everyone 6 months and older is eligible for flu and COVID-19 vaccines, and they can be given at the same time. APH offers both at Shots for Tots/Big Shots and most pop-up clinics. The APH Mobile Vaccination Program (MVP) team worked with community partners to host more than two dozen clinics last month to reach historically underserved communities.  

“Cold and flu season is off to an early start in our area,” said Adrienne Sturrup, APH director. “I encourage everyone to find time to get up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines and flu shots so we can avoid missing work or school or worse—hospitalization. We have tools to keep our families healthy, so let’s not take them for granted.”  

Only about half of all Americans get an annual flu shot. Influenza can cause millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and tens of thousands of deaths during an average flu season. Many people could be better protected from serious complications if they got vaccinated. 

Still looking for a reason to get vaccinated? Pick one of these

  1. Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with flu. 
  2. Flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated and still get sick. 
  3. Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization. 
  4. Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with certain chronic health conditions. 
  5. Flu vaccination during pregnancy helps protect pregnant people from flu during and after pregnancy. It also helps protect infants from flu in their first few months of life. 
  6. Flu vaccine can be lifesaving for children. 
  7. Getting vaccinated may also protect people around you. 

Share the message with friends, family and your community via InstagramNew flu informational flyers are available in our flu communication toolkit. Help us share information to protect our community this cold and flu season. 

City Auditor to conduct community meetings to get public input on Animal Services Office Audit

The Office of the City Auditor will conduct an audit of the Animal Services Office. This audit was directed by City Council, the resolution was passed in July 2022 (RESOLUTION NO. 20220728-098).  

As part of the audit process the Auditor’s Office will conduct three community meetings to get public input for the audit.

Meeting dates and times:

  • Monday, Oct. 24, 6:30-8 p.m., North Village Branch Library, 2505 Steck Ave. 
  • Wednesday, Nov. 2, 6:30-8 p.m., Virtual Meeting via WebEx, Join the meeting, here.
  • Thursday, Nov. 10, 6:30-8 p.m., City Hall Boards & Commission Room, 301W. 2nd St.

The City Auditor is directed by City Council to perform an audit of Animal Services Office effectiveness (effectiveness audit) and to identify an external animal sheltering expert knowledgeable in No Kill policies and practices to assist in identifying strategies and recommendations for improved flow of operations, quality care for animals, and a successful, sustainable No Kill shelter.

The Audit team will collaborate with an external Animal shelter expert. Identifying this person will be part of the community input meetings.

In addition, the audit team would like to get an understanding on what the community views as the biggest areas of concern regarding animal services. The public input will assist the auditors in narrowing down the focus areas.

The final audit report is estimated to be complete at the beginning 2023. View the City Council Resolution, document.cfm (austintexas.gov).

For questions or to provide input via email austinauditor@austintexas.gov, or call, 512-974-2805.

About the Office of the City Auditor
The Office of the City Auditor was created under Section 17 of Article VII of the City Charter. Chapter 2-3 of City Code details the office operations.

The Auditor’s Office works to make Austin better for all residents. The staff conducts audits and investigations to help find ways for the city to improve.

The office follows audit standards, so the work is independent and free of bias.

The Auditor publishes reports so everyone can see the results of its work. The result of the work is presented at meetings of the Austin City Council Audit and Finance Committee.

For more information visit www.austintexas.gov/auditor.

District 9 and Mayoral Council Candidate Forums

 

Thursday, October 20 at 6:00 PM and 7:30 PM

On Thursday, October 20, 2022, the City of Austin is sponsoring the City Council Candidate Forums for District 9 and Mayor, allowing residents to learn more about the candidates running for the open City Council seat.
 
The City of Austin, the City's Ethics Review Commission and the League of Women Voters Austin Area, will sponsor six City Council Candidate Forums for City Council candidates competing in the November 8 election. Council Districts that will be electing Council Members are Districts 1, 3, 5, 8, 9 and Mayor. The other districts will be chosen in 2024.

The event will be an opportunity for Austinites to listen to candidates express their views so audience members can understand candidates' positions and make an informed voting decision. The candidates will serve the remaining term of the office being vacated.
 
The forum for District 9 will begin at 6:00 p.m. followed by the forum for Mayor, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. Both will be held at Austin City Hall Council Chambers – 301 W. 2nd Street. The community can tune in live at ATXN.TV (ENG & SPA), cable TV channel 6, and AT&T U-Verse channel 99, and on streaming apps. The forum can also be heard live on KAZI FM 88.7 in English. Language Interpretation via Telephone will be provided in Spanish, Vietnamese, and Mandarin (Dial 1-855-756-7520 ext 83464# for English, 83465# for Spanish, 83466# for Mandarin, and 83467# for Vietnamese). For other language interpretation not provided for the forums, please call Austin 3-1-1 to request an interpreter at least 5 business days prior to the forum you wish to attend.
 
Austinites and Neighborhood Associations interested in suggesting a question to be asked of the Candidates during the forum can email in any language to forum@lwvaustin.org or call 512-451-6710. Deadline is by 12pm (noon) the day of each forum event date. For more information about the Council Candidate Forums, visit AustinTexas.gov/CandidateForums.

To find out which district you live in, visit AustinTexas.gov/Government#FindDistrict.

For more information about the election process, visit AustinTexas.gov/Elections

Wooldridge Square Oct. 28th: National Votes for Women Trail & Lone Star Legacy Recognition

Join Austin Parks and Recreation on Friday, October 28 at 10:00 a.m. at Wooldridge Square, 900 Guadalupe St., to celebrate two historical markers recognizing the National Votes for Women Trail and Lone Star Legacy Award. This is an outdoor park event, so please dress accordingly.

The National Votes for Women Trail (NVWT) is a major effort to document the significant sites of the women’s suffrage movement across the United States commemorating the fight for voting rights for women. NVWT is installing up to 250 roadside markers across the country to share the little-known stories of the struggle for equality, culminating in the passage of the 19th amendment allowing women the right to vote. The NVWT is a project of the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites in partnership with the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, which funded the National Votes for Women Trail Marker Program.

The dedication will also include a marker celebrating Wooldridge Square’s designation as a Texas Recreation and Park Society (TRAPS) Lone Star Legacy Park, which is a park that holds special prominence in the local community and the state of Texas. To qualify for consideration, the park must have endured the test of time and become iconic to those who have visited, played, and rested on its grounds. Nominated parks must be a minimum of 50 years old and meet criteria related to historic, architectural, and natural significance.

When Judge Edwin Waller platted the City of Austin in 1839, he designated four public squares in each quadrant of the city. Only three of the original squares remain and Wooldridge Square, in the northwest quadrant of downtown, is relatively unchanged and retains a high degree of historic integrity. For its first sixty years, Wooldridge Square was used by the public but remained municipally undeveloped.

By 1907, improvements were made to the park, and in 1909, Austin Mayor A. P. Wooldridge, for whom the square was already named, sponsored the construction of a classical revival-style gazebo for public engagements in the park. In the early 20th century, many women's suffrage rallies leading to Texas ratifying the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution were held at Woolridge Park.

Texas Equal Suffrage Association (TESA), the state chapter of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), documented 98 suffrage organizations in 1918. TESA and its members were instrumental in Texas becoming the ninth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution 19th Amendment, which maintains that the right to vote shall not be denied by any state on account of sex. Local groups, such as the Austin Woman Suffrage Association, formed in 1908 as a chapter under the TESA, and the Austin Chapter of the National Woman’s Party (NWP) formed in 1916 by Austinite Clara Snell Wolfe. 

Minnie Fisher Cunningham, of New Waverly and Galveston, Texas was elected president of TESA in 1915 and served in this position until the suffrage victory in 1919. Activists also held a rally at the park to support “The Melting Pot Movement,” which encouraged women to donate funds to the efforts being waged in other states that had women’s suffrage on the ballot in 1914. Cunningham also held a rally at Woolridge Park in 1928 when she became the first woman from Texas to run for the U.S. Senate.

Wooldridge Square’s significance reaches beyond Austin and is closely tied to significant statewide and national events. In 1948, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who would later serve as the 36th U.S. President, launched his U.S. senatorial campaign at a rally at Wooldridge Square.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

COVID-19 booster recommendation expanded to younger age groups in time for fall gatherings

 

Austin-Travis County Health Authority: New subvariants overseas warrant getting boosted 

Being up to date with COVID-19 vaccines means getting updated booster doses for much of the population. Austin Public Health (APH) supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) updated booster recommendations for everyone 5 and older at least two months after their most recent COVID-19 vaccine. Updated (bivalent) boosters offer broader protection against newer COVID-19 variants.  

While children 5 and older became eligible for COVID-19 vaccines almost a year ago, about half of Travis County’s 5-to 11-year-olds are not yet eligible for COVID-19 booster doses because they have not completed their primary vaccination series. About 40% of children 5-11 have completed their primary series in Travis County. 

"Another wave of infections has begun in Europe and will likely reach the U.S. in the next few weeks.  We can get ahead of this by getting the bivalent booster," said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "The updated boosters can protect against serious illness caused by newer variants including BA.5 sublineages BQ.1 and BQ.1.1. We need more people—especially children—to complete their primary series to better safeguard our community."

The World Health Organization is tracking more than 300 omicron sublineages, mostly of BA.5 or BA.2. As the virus continues to change, it is necessary to adjust recommendations accordingly. Updated (bivalent) boosters are available at pharmacies and private providers throughout the area. Austin Public Health’s (APH) Mobile Vaccination Program (MVP) has been administering them at pop-up clinics, and now even more people in Austin-Travis County are eligible for enhanced protection.  

COVID-19 booster dose eligibility highlights include:

  • All children 5 and older can get Pfizer’s updated booster, and children 6 and older can get Pfizer or Moderna’s updated booster. 

  • Children who got Moderna's primary vaccination series are now eligible for booster doses. Previously, only children 12 and older whose primary series was Moderna were eligible for boosters. 

"Cold and flu season is off to an early start in our area," said Adrienne Sturrup, APH director. "I encourage everyone to find time to get up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines and flu shots so we can avoid missing work or school or worse—hospitalization. We have tools to keep our families healthy, so let’s not take them for granted.” 

Influenza

Early reports show flu activity is already extremely high in Travis County. Everyone 6 months and older is eligible for flu and COVID-19 vaccines, and they can be given at the same time. APH offers both at Shots for Tots/Big Shots and most pop-up clinics. The MVP team worked with community partners to host more than two dozen clinics last month to reach historically underserved communities. 

Vaccine Providers

Visit Vaccines.gov (Vacunas.gov in Spanish) to find flu and COVID-19 vaccine providers near you.   

Free COVID-19 tests

Free at-home test kits and PCR testing are available at APH’s Metz Elementary testing site (84 Robert T. Martinez Jr. St., Austin, TX 78702) through the end of the month. The Department of Health and Humans Services lists community-based testing sites online. Epidemiologists monitor various disease surveillance indicators in addition to positive lab-confirmed results and wastewater surveillance. You may report COVID-19 at-home test results to APH online. 

Free masks (N-95 respirators)

Use the CDC’s mask-locator tool to find pharmacies near you that provide free masks (N-95 respirators). It does not show current inventories, so check with the location for availability. 


City’s Chief Medical Officer Tapped to Help Prepare World for Next Pandemic

 

Appointment Follows Austin-Travis County’s Success in Fighting COVID-19


The City of Austin’s Chief Medical Officer is joining a group of distinguished experts to tackle the grand challenge of preparing the world to combat future pandemic threats.
 
Dr. Mark Escott, Chief Medical Officer for the City of Austin, has been named one of the project leaders of the new UT Center for Pandemic Decision Science, which is being set up with a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
 
Dr. Escott, who played a leading role in the City’s fight against COVID-19 in his role as interim health authority for Austin-Travis County, will work alongside scientists, engineers, clinicians and policymakers from UT Austin and across the US to develop a plan to improve public health responses.
 
“Austin and Travis County’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been praised for limiting the impact of the disease on our community,” said Dr. Escott. “In particular, the staged risk guidelines used by Austin Public Health have served as a national model for using science to shape policy and community decision-making. We are grateful for the trust placed in us by the National Science Foundation to develop a plan to improve responses to future pandemics across the United States and beyond.”
 
The new Center will tackle three fundamental challenges that are considered critical to the future resilience of the planet: 
  • Anticipating novel pathogen threats and detecting them at their source
     
  • Forecasting and positively influencing individual, collective and governmental responses to emerging threats.
     
  • Integrating science into every stage of pandemic decision making, including prevention, detection, containment and mitigation.

There are more than 40 multidisciplinary investigators from 11 different institutions collaborating to launch the new Center. Over the next 18 months, they will host five workshops and conduct five pilot projects, including a hackathon to forecast human health behaviors and a pathogen ‘wargame’ exercise for Texas public agencies. 
 
These activities are designed to “build a roadmap for closing fundamental gaps in our understanding of pandemics,” according to Professor Lauren Ancel Meyers, professor of integrative biology and statistics and data sciences at UT Austin, who will serve as Primary Investigator for the new Center.
 
She added: “We are bringing the brightest minds together to envision bold interdisciplinary approaches for detecting pathogen threats, predicting the complex interplay between pathogens, the environment, and our social systems, and developing decision strategies for combating uncertain challenges.” 
 
The new Center will also provide educational and research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students at UT.

Monday, October 17, 2022

October is National Code Compliance Month

City Mayor Steve Adler joined leaders from around the country in proclaiming October as National Code Compliance Month, which recognizes the work done to keep our communities safe. The City recognized the observation of the month at the October 13th City Council meeting.

Code enforcement officers inspect residential and commercial properties as well as streets and sidewalks. Inspectors identify and remove safety hazards, nuisances, unhealthy conditions, and other city codes violations to keep Austin clean and safe.

“If there is one department in the city that is at the front lines, it is Code, both for the good and the bad,” Mayor Steve Adler said at the City Council Proclamation. “That’s what happens when you are one of the most public facing and public interactive departments.  As a City we are proud of [Code] and we recognize [Code inspecting is] not an easy job and as a City we recognize that.”

A key part of code compliance is the collaboration between the community and code professionals who throughout the year address potential hazards in the community. Austin Code works closely with the community daily to help raise awareness of minimum standards and find collaborative solutions to problems. The department investigates over 35,000 code cases per year to check for potential code violations and hosts over X community events to raise awareness of city codes.

Code Month educates the public on how they can contribute to the Code Compliance process. Residents are invited to engage on the department’s website and social media to learn more about the department and its work.

“The Austin Code Department is committed to its mission of building a safer and greater Austin together through code education, collaboration, and enforcement,” said ACD Director José G. Roig. “Code Compliance Month gives us the occasion to celebrate our work and how we, together with the community, help keep Austin a safe place to call home. We are securing a better and safer Austin for generations to come.”

For more information on Austin Code, visit austintexas.gov/code or follow Austin Code on Facebook at Austin Code Department, Instagram at Austincode, or Twitter at Austin_Code.

City of Austin Statement on Labor Negotiations with Police Union

The City's Labor Relations Office has been negotiating with the Austin Police Association (APA) for almost nine months over a new labor ...