Filming in Georgetown
It’s been a violent week for central Texas. After two shootings involving officers to start the week in Austin for two consecutive nights, Georgetown police are now investigating a shootout that left several people injured. According to Georgetown PD, last night three people were shot dead in a parking lot on the 1400 block of I-35 near an olive garden. Two men and one woman were taken to the hospital for treatment.
Protest against gunshots by officers
Austin activists gather in protest after yesterday’s fatal shooting. About two dozen people marched and sang and took displeasure with the police after Alexander Gonzalez died. Austin police chief Brian Manley said Gonzales cut off an off duty police officer, then pointed a gun at him and later fired it, and then on-duty officers were there to ask Gonzalez to get away from the car. Gonzales allegedly refused and opened the back door and reached inside, at which point he was shot.
Last day, 22 more patients were admitted to Travis County’s COVID hospital admission, bringing the total to 574. 161 of these patients are in intensive care and 99 need a ventilator. The district also reports almost 5,000 active cases. A total of 53,272 confirmed cases and 47,762 recoveries.
Officials say the local pandemic is breaking growth records. Mark Escott, doctor for the Austin Travis County Health Department, tells local executives that the last 70-day average of new COVID hospital admissions is an all-time high of 77.
“That 77 was a new record for our Austin pandemic. That’s a 140% increase in new admissions to the hospital compared to December 4th, “says Escott.
By the numbers, he reckons Travis County will continue to break similar records in the near future and that there will be no hospital available in the area by the end of next week.
Vaccines have not been introduced smoothly in the Austin area. Brigid Shea, Travis County Commissioner, blames Governor Greg Abbott the most.
“And now it seems to me that there is even more chaos in knowing where vaccines are available and how many are available and how the public can access them,” says Shea.
Austin Public Health also points a finger at the state, saying it wasn’t their fault that vaccines weren’t given efficiently. Officials are working on a new website that will allow the public to track where vaccines have been shipped and how many are available.
Today, Austin in southeast Austin is getting a new mobile antibody infusion center used to treat people with COVID-19. Andy Brown, a Travis County judge, says the hope is that the new center will take some pressure off hospitals.
“If people in the high-risk category test positive for COVID, they can be given an infusion that will reduce the severity of their symptoms for many people,” Brown says.
Patients must meet certain criteria and receive a referral from a doctor. Governor Abbott calls antibody therapy a critical component in responding to COVID-19.
New school recommendations
New recommendations are being made for local schools as many locations are opening again this week. Austin Mayor Steve Adler says bus or car pool use should be avoided and schools should not allow children to congregate in the cafeteria.
“We strongly recommend parents to switch their children to virtual education for at least two weeks, since we are now in this higher place of infectivity,” says Adler.
The recommendation also includes canceling most, if not all, extracurricular activities. If this is not possible, there are significant changes to these events, including proactive testing.
Texas State COVID Test Requirement
Texas State University has made it mandatory that all students and staff returning to campus be tested for COVID beforehand. In-person tuition will resume at the university on January 19th. Officials say everyone should plan to get tested within a week of returning.
The effects of COVID-19 are expected to play a significant role in the upcoming state parliament. State Senator John Whitmire enters his 24th legislature. He says although new COVID restrictions have not yet been finalized, they have been discussed.
“We can’t use all committee rooms because of social distancing. That will limit work, and the lieutenant governor will limit the number of bills he sends to committees, ”says Whitmire.
Mark Jones, a political scientist at Rice University, says a limited session doesn’t leave much time on controversial partisan accounts – the budget, some basic high-priority reform items, and something related to the George Floyd Act.
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