On Wednesday, local officials held a press conference for the first time this month to provide a coronavirus update and answer questions.
While Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott addressed some of the big ones—about ventilator capacity and contingency plans, for two—others remain.
Here are some of the answers we're looking for at Austonia—and please share the ones you're looking for by emailing email@example.com.
1. When will Austin see its caseload peak?
Modeling by researchers at the University of Texas-Austin shows that this is a moving target. The better Austinites comply with local Stay Home-Work Safe orders, and the more we wear our masks in public, the later this peak will occur.
Additionally, these actions will help suppress the total caseload peak and allow more time for researchers to develop a vaccine and treatment, Dr. Escott said Wednesday.
2. The city announced a surge plan—to be implemented if hospitals hit capacity—and announced supplemental care sites. Where will those sites be?
The city has identified supplemental care sites, Dr. Escott said Wednesday, but has not yet named them. The types of facilities being considered—locally as well as at the state level—include outpatient surgical centers, former hospital buildings, arenas and convention centers.
3. Will there be a dedicated hospital for COVID-19 cases, like we are seeing in some other cities?
Right now, multiple hospital networks are reporting cases, including Ascension, Baylor Scott & White, Seton and St. David's HealthCare. The city has not indicated whether this will change moving forward.
4. What is our exit plan?
"It's not clear what the long term looks like for this virus," Dr. Escott said Wednesday. "It seems unlikely that it's going to disappear. That's just not going to happen. We're going to have to face this at some point—at some stage. Our preference is to take care of cases a little bit at a time, to never exceed the capacity of our health care system, to take good care of those individuals. If we can do that, we can fight this battle for a long time. We can ensure that we are saving as many people as we can."
5. How many tests have been conducted in Austin?
Only state-level numbers are available. As of Thursday afternoon, 106,134 Texans—or 0.37%—had been tested for the coronavirus, per the Department of State Health Services.
Even without knowing the number of tests, there are limitations to the data we have.
For one, there is a delay—the impact of decisions the city makes today might not appear in caseload data for another two weeks, Adler said in a second video posted on Wednesday.
Additionally, test access is limited, and results may be delayed up to a week.
Dr. Escott said last month that there could be seven to 10 times the number of coronavirus cases in Austin as those confirmed with test results.
On Thursday evening, the city reported 642 cases, up 45 the day prior. However, deaths did not increase; hospitalizations went down by three cases, to 72; and an additional 22 people were reported recovered.
"The more tests we give, the more confirmed cases we're going to see," Adler said Wednesday. "We could actually be decreasing the number of infections that are occurring in our city but still have a number going up because we're just giving more tests.
Austin FC couldn't find the stamina to fight off a 2-0 loss against LAFC for their inaugural match on Saturday.
The match, which saw No. 21 Austin FC go head-to-head with No. 2 LAFC in Los Angeles, was broadcast nationally on FOX and FOX Deportes.
Eleven players took the stage as Austin FC players for the first time, with five starters making their MLS debut. "Ringleader" Alex Ring took the captain's armband and wore it well. The defensive midfielder could be seen leading his teammates through their first ever match, but it wasn't enough to stage an Austin takeover in LA.
As Austin FC took the stage for their first-ever match, they appeared more experienced than their track record. The club held LAFC to a scoreless first half, keeping about equal possession of the ball.
In the signature style of Head Coach Josh Wolff, the team played with quickness and intensity, nearly connecting on several fast breaks.
The club was given some generous breaks from No. 2 LAFC, who had one or both of their star DPs out for the half. While forward Diego Rossi is out for the entire match due to a hamstring injury, Carlos Vela was accidentally pulled too soon on what turned out to be a miscommunication.
"He gave us the sign that he needed to come off," LAFC Head Coach Bob Bradley said on broadcast. "I can't say more than maybe it's my fault."
LA pulled some dramatics and slowly gained more possession throughout the half, but ATXFC's defense wasn't initially as shaky as it seemed in preseason. Jhohan Romana has pulled his weight in getting the ball out of goal, and a 34-year old Matt Besler held his own in center back.
As the second half commenced, however, it became clear that LAFC had the advantage over Austin's first major league team.
Goalkeeper Brad Stuver had his work cut out for him, fending off 24 shot attempts, 11 of which were on goal.
LAFC finally connected in the 61st minute of play as Corey Baird shot one into the bottom right corner. The team capitalized off their momentum and put one past Stuver a second time, drawing roars of approval from the LAFC crowd.
While some last-minute attempts from Jon Gallagher and others were made, Austin FC didn't have the endurance to bring a tie. After seven additional minutes of stoppage time, the club lost their first match 2-0.
It's matchday! Austin FC—Austin's first major league sport team—kicks off its debut season in Los Angeles today after years in the making. We know how much this means to our beloved city and are taking you along with us as we journey to LA!
Austin FC writer Claire Partain and I are excited to bring you game-day coverage straight from the City of Angels. Check back here for updates, and visit our socials: @austonianews for the latest.
~7 p.m: Austin FC loses to LAFC
A sad outcome for many, Austin FC was defeated by their competitor. Check out Claire's recap for a full rundown of what this game looked like: https://austonia.com/halftime-austin-fc-debut.
Until next time, Austin!
5 p.m: Kickoff!
It's finally here! Claire will be updating Austonia's Twitter account live. And we'll post her game recap after the game. Best of luck Verdes!
4:40 p.m: Excitement radiates back home
Watch parties are in plenty supply back home. Austonia's Laura Figi visited Circle Brewing Co. and found a crowd of excited supporters.
4:20 p.m: Austin FC supporters are in the stadium
Although the Banc of California Stadium is hosting the match at limited capacity, we see some green in the stands ahead of kickoff. Just moments away from the Austin FC's debut!
~3:20 p.m: Austin FC's team bus enters the stadium grounds
With a warm welcome from Los Verdes, Austin FC players were welcomed into the Banc of California Stadium.
~1 p.m: Los Verdes in LA
(Rigo Rodriguez/Los Verdes)
Austin FC supporters are making their presence known in LA, including the Los Verdes group.
Los Verdes members started having match-day fun around the area this morning with brunch. We'll be joining them about an hour before the game outside the stadium to share some of their excitement. We'll post immediately to Austonia's Instagram.
11:45 a.m: We landed!
View from hotel room where we're staying; the stadium digital sign can be seen in the right corner. (Sonia Garcia/Austonia)
Switching over to pacific time, we're here and it's almost like no time went by. It's 9:45 a.m. here.
We've been in contact with Los Verdes, an Austin FC supporter group, who is also here in LA counting down to kickoff.
8:20 a.m: LA bound
Like many of you, we've been looking forward to this moment for, let's just say, a very long time. Today, we woke up bright and early, headed to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and hopped on a flight to LA.
A gloomy day in Austin with a very quiet airport, we're headed to sunny skies in California.
As we wait for the game to start at 4:30 p.m., check out Claire's preview of the game with a predicted lineup and timeline of the long journey to get here.