(Austin Public Health) (Graph by Emma Freer/Flourish)


Austin Public Health is tracking 36 non-institutional clusters of COVID-19, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott told the City Council earlier today. Of those clusters, 19 are among construction workers, four are at food service or grocery locations, and three are among building cleaning and maintenance services.


Testing conducted at two construction sites earlier this month revealed that COVID-19 exposure is greater among construction workers than the general population. According to Dr. Escott's presentation, nearly 8% of workers tested were positive, compared to a positive rate of around 3.4% for those tested through APH's public enrollment system.

In addition to these clusters, Dr. Escott said workers may be resistant to being tested—either on-site or at community clinics—due to fear of criminal repercussions related to immigration status or a positive result leading to the loss of a paycheck. "This is a significant barrier," he added.

Dr. Escott said another concern is varying positive test rates—which correlate with higher hospitalization and fatality rates—among different racial and ethnic groups. For example, Hispanic and Latino residents who have been tested through the public enrollment system have a positive rate of around 8.6%, more than double that of the overall population. White residents, on the other hand, have a positive rate of around 1%.

Dr. Escott attributed this variability to long-standing disparities in healthcare access and other social services.

Local officials are working to engage construction companies and other employers in partnerships to encourage employee testing, Dr. Escott said, but he didn't provide any additional information about these efforts.

City Council will also take up a resolution Thursday that would direct the city manager to establish a strategy for high-risk workers to prevent COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.

ATXN.tv

Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden introduced her coronavirus-themed piñata during a press conference Wednesday.

Instead of door-to-door trick-or-treating this Halloween, local health leaders are recommending that Austin residents start new traditions. For example, coronavirus-themed piñatas are proving very popular in 2020.

Keep Reading Show less

Rainey Street Residences is a 48-story, 409-unit apartment complex proposed at the corner of Rainey and River streets.

Two original Rainey Street bungalows, home to longtime bars Craft Pride and Javelina, could be replaced by a proposed 48-floor apartment complex.

Keep Reading Show less
(MetroBike/Twitter)

Capital Metro is making sure people can get to the polls to vote this year.

Keep Reading Show less
(Charlie L. Harper III/Austonia)

After sounding the alarm last week that the pandemic was growing in Austin, local health officials said Tuesday there are signs of a possible plateau. But caseload increases across the state suggest another surge is on the horizon, and researchers at the University of Texas at Austin estimates that there is a 100% chance the pandemic is growing locally.

Keep Reading Show less
(Bob Daemmrich)

Austin ISD will offer face-to-face, on-campus learning to all students whose families choose to take advantage of it starting on Monday, Nov. 2, in compliance with the Texas Education Agency's guidelines.

Keep Reading Show less
(Austin Bergstrom International Airport)

Zack Morgan playing the piano during his set at the airport.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is keeping the tradition of live music at the airport alive.

Keep Reading Show less
(Anna Moneymaker/Pool via REUTERS)

By Abby Livingston

WASHINGTON — With the support of Texas' two senators, the U.S. Senate approved the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court in a 52-48 vote Monday evening.

Keep Reading Show less