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Charlie L. Harper III

Our photographer captured Austin residents around town on the day after the mayor announced he would require fabric face coverings in public. (Charlie L. Harper III)

The day after the city of Austin extended its stay-at-home order, adding that members of the public will be required to wear fabric face coverings in public places, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said that masks will be a way of life in Austin for quite a while in response to the coronavirus epidemic.

"The requirement for facial coverings is likely to be a longstanding requirement," he said at a virtual press conference today. "Nobody expects that this thing is going to go away."


Escott said that the peak of COVID-19 cases in Austin will depend on how well residents adhere to the requirements in the stay-at-home order, and that city officials are trying to buy time to acquire more testing equipment, personal protective equipment and contact-tracing capabilities.

He said that things could go back to normal when there is an effective treatment and vaccine in place. In the meantime, a population comfortable with wearing masks could make it possible to gradually relax restrictions.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said today at the press conference that masks were not necessary for outdoor activities such as jogging or walking, as long as the individual is either alone or with members of their household. The covering can also be removed while eating or drinking.

The fabric face coverings are not meant to protect the individual wearing the mask, but rather those nearby, in case the individual has an asymptomatic COVID-19 infection. The masks are not a replacement for maintaining a physical distance, officials have said.

In his April 6 "Got a Minute?" video post, Adler demonstrated two ways to make a mask from t-shirt material, with no sewing, in less than a minute.

It has been difficult to find masks at Austin stores, but there are hundreds of videos on YouTube showing how to make your own. On the local social networking platform NextDoor, many neighbors post that they are making masks for the community, often providing them at no cost. Etsy, an e-commerce site focused on handcrafted items, has over 350,000 listings for "masks."

Adler calls it a moral requirement to protect workers such as store clerks.

Kasey Pfaff, an employee at an Austin Home Depot, said that before this new facial covering order, she found herself reacting a little differently to customers walking into the store wearing a mask and those who were not wearing one. She is glad that customers should now all be wearing masks.

"It makes us feel like people are doing their jobs," she said. "They're protecting us."

Pfaff has an autoimmune condition that puts her at a higher risk of COVID-19 complications. She also needs to avoid bringing the coronavirus home to her roommate or over to her elderly mother's house.

She has been wearing a mask and gloves herself, and she knows it is not always easy. Her glasses fog up, and they fall off when she bends over. Sometimes she has to talk on the phone at work, and that is hard while wearing a mask. Yet she considers the mask mandate important both now and as Austin moves through other phases of the crisis.

"I see it just as much as a reassurance about the future," she said. "That everyone is doing this is a signal that Austin is trying to get back on its feet."

Charlie L. Harper III

Photos by Charlie L. Harper III

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With a taste of MLS play under their belts, Austin FC is entering the second half of a scoreless inaugural match.

The club has been 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."

The two breaks aside, Austin FC has been holding their own against the match favorites. In the signature style of head coach Josh Wolff, the team has been quick and intense, nearly connecting on several fast breaks. ATXFC has also kept about equal possession with LAFC, although their shot attempts haven't been quite as nervewracking as the home team's.

LAFC has given goalkeeper Brad Stuver some scares with 11 shot attempts, four of them on goal. By contrast, Austin FC has had five shots on goal.

LA has pulled some dramatics and slowly gained more possession throughout the half, but ATXFC's defense isn't as shaky as it seemed in preseason. Jhohan Romana has pulled his weight in getting the ball out of goal, and defensive midfielder Alex Ring has shown the qualities that make him captain as he leads his teammates through their first ever match.

Will Austin FC win against the odds? t's tough to tell, but Austonia will keep you updated!

Ingredients:

  • 750 ml Tito's Handmade Vodka
  • 16 oz strawberries

Directions: Drop sliced strawberries into glass container filled with Tito's Handmade Vodka. Let sit in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Once desired flavor is reached remove fruit. Enjoy!

The long-awaited day is here; Austin FC takes the field with LAFC. (Austonia)

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.

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.