Austin’s Top News – January 15th 2021 | KLBJ-AM

Abbott against exonerating the police

Texas Governor Greg Abbott reiterated the problem of cities like Austin defusing the police. Speaking to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Abbott said he wanted to make it “fiscally impossible” to do so.

“I think the one that forces a city to choose between bankruptcy or funding its police force is the best policy,” says Abbott.

He says this will be a priority for this new legislature. Abbott’s plan calls for the state auditor to withhold sales tax revenue from cities until councils agree to properly fund their police departments.

Travis County DA blames law enforcement

Travis County’s new District Attorney makes the Mike Ramos and Javier Ambler case his top priority. Travis County prosecutor José Garza says he will see both cases before a grand jury by March 30. Part of Garza’s campaign for the prosecutor’s office was to hold law enforcement accountable.

“And our community was clear. They believe it is vital that a law enforcement officer be held accountable when a law enforcement officer commits a crime, and they knew they wanted transparency in those cases, ”says Garza.

To this end, Garza has also published information on every pending case from his Office for Civil Rights.

COVID-19 update

On the coronavirus front, hospital stays in Travis County have declined slightly, from six yesterday to a total of 601 this morning. Still very high. 186 people in the intensive care unit, that has increased by one. There was also a pretty big jump in active cases, which rose to 6,364 today. In total, the districts mark about 59,000 cases, resulting in 52,439 recoveries.

Vaccination lines

Travis County’s vaccination clinics have long lines. With only 12,000 doses being given out to Austin Public Health this week, not everyone who shows up gets one. Sandra Kelly tells CBS Austin that she and her friend both had dates.

“I got out of here at 8:15 am and there are about 350 people in front of it. And it turned out that many of them were turned away because they didn’t have appointments, ”she says.

Pre-registration for Phase 1A and 1B began on Wednesday. Austin Public Health expects all 12,000 doses to be gone today or tomorrow.

It didn’t happen as soon as promised, but heads of state say Texas has now exceeded a million vaccinations, more than any other state in the nation. Governor Abbott had forecast that more than a million doses would be dispensed before the end of last year, but it actually took a month to reach one million.

Update of the local school district

The Austin School District leadership urges parents to leave the children at home after the MLK vacation. Travis County’s Health Department Mark Escott says he’s worried about the new semester.

“The positivity rate is much higher, four times as high as in autumn. We have a new variant that will almost certainly affect the spread of disease, ”says Escott.

He thinks it is a bit catastrophic that some school grounds were 70 to 90% full.

More than a dozen local districts have signed a letter to Mark Escott asking that teacher vaccinations be a priority in the next round. According to the letter, only about 10-15% of faculties and staff in the region are currently eligible for Phase 1B. Districts that have signed this letter include Austin, Hays, Pflugerville, and Lake Travis.

Speaking of Pflugerville, there is a shortage of substitute teachers that has forced the Pflugerville district to call in administrative staff to fill the gaps. District spokeswoman Tamra Spence tells KXAN that they have about 650 subs in their system, but only about 150 are currently signing up to help.

“Our leadership team, which includes our superintendent and the cabinet, will be in the classroom regularly from the end of January,” says Spence.

She says to meet the daily needs of the district. In fact, at least 250 submarines are needed.

For the time being, Taylor Middle School has learned 100% online again. This decision is made after nine employees tested positive for COVID in his week. Taylor School district says children won’t return to the classroom until January 25th.

Ken Shine Prize

UT Dell Medical School has the infectious disease Dr. Anthony Fauci was awarded the Ken Shine Prize. The school says Fauci helped make significant advances in health. Fauci says it’s an honor, but he’s still not sure why the nation is so divided over COVID-19 at the moment.

“People die at 3,000 to 4,000 a day, and there are still people who think it’s wrong and made up and it’s a conspiracy,” says Fauci.

Fauci believes it will be of vital importance for the nation to get to the roots of what has divided us so deeply in this regard if we await real progress.

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