School districts in Austin
Students in the Austin School District won’t be on campus today. It is one of four asynchronous learning days planned for this semester. This means that children learn 100% remotely, but not with real-time teaching. Most of the work will be done through recorded lectures and online activities. February 16, March 6, and April 9, or the other days that these specific Asynchronous Learning Days are scheduled.
Travis County’s intensive care units have been steadily declining since this week, and the number has declined for another day. This morning 153 people were in the intensive care unit and a total of 564 people were hospitalized for COVID-19. There was further progress in terms of active cases, with that number dropping to 5,298 for another day. A total of 67,566 cases were confirmed with 61,614 recoveries.
Available hospital bed space in Williamson County has increased slightly to 18%, officially equivalent to 679 beds open and vacant this morning. 11% of the ICU space is available and 1,802 cases of COVID are still active there. 30,838 cases have been confirmed since March, resulting in 28,726 recoveries.
Rental Assistance in Austin
Austin and Travis Counties are calling for more state and federal aid to maintain rental assistance programs for both individuals and landlords.
“We are looking for more and even better ways to protect community landlords as we are likely to receive more federal government funding, although we urge everyone to continue lobbying the federal government to make sure this happens,” said Steve Adler , Mayor of Austin.
Both the city and the district have extended the eviction moratorium until April 1st. Adler says they sent $ 13 million in rent relief to 4,300 families through city relief programs during the pandemic.
Rents in the Austin area are down nearly 5% year over year. Department List’s Chris Salviati explains that in the pandemic, other cities saw more drastic declines than San Francisco, where rents are down 24% year over year.
“Austin is pretty modest by comparison, but at the same time our national index is only 1.2% lower. So Austin is more than four times the national average, ”says Salviati.
Salvatti is seeing some signs of a return in rental growth, however, as red levels in the region rose 0.4% month-to-month, which also happens to be four times the national month-to-month average.
Vaccine appointment registration reopens today for Hays County. The online portal launched last week and the slots were full in less than half an hour. Access to the portal is only possible at 12 noon. You can then register at https://www.haysinformed.com/covid-19
Texas has temporarily put in place a new system to make it easier to dispense the COVID vaccine. In the past few weeks, Texas has grown from 28 major vaccination centers to more than 80. 2,000 people can be vaccinated daily at these locations.
“This was largely due to the fact that the demand for vaccines really grew very sharply with the move to the 1B population.” says Imelda Garcia, Deputy Commissioner for the Ministry of State Health Services.
As they get more vaccines, they’ll allocate more to the hundreds of other providers
“We’re having discussions about how long we can stick with this strategy before moving back to wider adoption.” Says Garcia.
Abbott signs an order to protect oil and gas
Governor Greg Abbott is not on board at all with Joe Biden’s Executive Orders signed this week that deal with energy and climate change. Abbott says he signed his own executive order here in Texas to protect the oil and gas sector.
“Instruct any government agency to use all legal powers and instruments to challenge federal measures that threaten the continued strength, vitality and independence of the energy industry.”
Abbott says he will also veto any policies in the state and in lawmakers related to the Washington Democrats’s proposal for a multi-trillion dollar green New Deal.
Beto O’Rourke is considering mayoral run
After losing a Senate race to Ted Cruz and dropping out of the President’s last race very early in the primaries. Former El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke believes he has a chance for the highest office in the state. He is considering running for governor next year. Texas has no term limits on the governor, so Governor Greg Abbott will seek a third term.