Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said that the city and county would extend the Stay Home-Work Safe orders when they expire on Friday, though they will be modified to comply with an executive order issued last week by Gov. Greg Abbott.
In the meantime, the current stay-at-home orders remain in effect, although certain elements are superseded by state rules.
"What we're talking about doing right here, right now, is trying to make the governor's order as successful as it can be," Adler said during a virtual press conference on Monday. "I want the governor's plan to succeed."
Abbott's order allowed certain businesses—including restaurants, movie theaters, malls and libraries—to reopen at limited capacity on May 1. It also explicitly prevented local jurisdictions from mandating that residents wear masks in public.
Before Abbott's order took effect, violating local mask orders was a criminal offense—though not an enforced one. (An April 13 press release issued by the city said the requirement was "substantially reliant on self-regulation," and a spokesperson for the Austin Police Department said Monday she didn't believe any citations were issued.)
Adler said he will continue and extend the local mask mandate, even though it is unenforceable.
"Well, we're going to keep face coverings mandatory in Austin and, in compliance with the Governor's new order, the only penalty for not wearing a face covering is that more people will get sick and some will die," Adler wrote in a May 2 email newsletter. "That should be penalty enough to keep us doing what's right by our community."
Nonetheless, the current city, county and state orders share some common ground.
Each prohibits social gatherings, although the language varies. The governor's order requires Texans to "minimize social gatherings and minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household." Local orders, on the other hand, prohibit all gatherings of any number of people.
With modifications, the local orders are now aligned with the governor's order on the subject of trips, which are limited to essential activities and recently opened businesses. Despite the governor's go-ahead, many local businesses have chosen not to reopen because of financial considerations and concern they may have to close again.
Additionally, Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk will determine when city facilities—such as the Austin Animal Center and Austin Public Library branches—will reopen. "The City Manager advised that CIty operations will remain unchanged from the previous weeks to support the phased-in approach of opening our economy, and he extended city facility closures through at least May 29, 2020," a city spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement.
Local elected officials and Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott have raised concerns that the governor's reopening plan is rash and risks a second surge in COVID-19 cases. Updated modeling, released publicly last week, shows that if social distancing rates fall below 80%—from the current rate of around 90%—COVID-19 cases will surge and overwhelm area hospitals.
"We have built a parachute in this community that is working," Eckhardt said at the Monday press conference. "And we should not let go of that parachute until we hit the ground. We're not there yet."
While the local orders have been modified to comply with state rules, they may soon be overruled again. Last week, Abbott said he may initiate the second phase of his reopening plan as soon as May 18, as long as a second surge in COVID-19 cases does not occur.
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Update: Former Travis County deputy suspected of killing 3 in northwest Austin now in police custody
Stephen Broderick is now in police custody for a suspected domestic violence incident that killed three in northwest Austin on Sunday.
After initially being called an active shooting incident, joint local law enforcement and more than 75 FBI agents proceeded with an almost day-long manhunt with three helicopters and on-ground teams for former Travis County deputy Broderick. Police captured him after a 911 caller reported a suspicious man walking along U.S. 290, where he was taken into custody.
Police believe the victims, who have been identified as two Hispanic women and one Black man, knew their assailant. A child was involved but is now safely in police custody. Two of the victims have been identified as former and current Elgin ISD students: Alyssa Broderick and Willie Simmons III.
The school district released a statement offering its condolences to the families. Alyssa was enrolled until October 2020 and played on the basketball team. Simmons was a senior at Elgin High School where he was captain of the football team and had been recruited to play football at the University of North Texas.
Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez released the following statement on the incident: "I'm truly heartbroken that a former Travis County Sheriff's Office Deputy is the suspect in such a horrific incident. TCSO is standing by to provide any, and all assistance we can to the families of the victims in their time of need. I'm proud of the integrity and professionalism shown by the men and women of TCSO, APD and other law enforcement agencies, who worked tirelessly throughout the night to locate Stephen Broderick. I'm especially grateful to the vigilant citizen who called 911 after seeing Broderick, and to the Manor PD officers and TCSO deputies who took him into custody this morning."
APD @Chief_Chacon provides updated media briefing in relation to Great Hills Trail incident. - PIO8 https://t.co/47siNWhARI
— Austin Police Department (@Austin_Police) April 18, 2021
During a press briefing at 4:45 p.m. on Sunday, Interim Police Chief Joe Chacon said law enforcement was on the scene for several hours investigating the incident with 41-year-old Broderick.
"We're very sorry that obviously this has happened and we continue to try and locate this individual, we are transitioning from a search in this area to a fugitive search and those efforts will continue until this person is located," Chacon said. "I don't want anyone to think that we're packing up and going home. We're going to continue to look for this individual because he continues to pose a threat to this community."
#texasshooting #masshooting Arboretum shooting Austin. pic.twitter.com/SkIsgDoYHt
— Jamie Hammonds (@jamie_hammonds5) April 18, 2021
This story has been updated at 8 a.m. Monday to include the latest information.
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Formula 1 is returning to Florida for the first time since 1959, announcing that the brand-new Miami Grand Prix will join the calendar in 2022 and Austin will no longer be the only F1 race in the U.S.
Held at the Hard Rock Stadium complex in Miami Gardens, this will be the first race in the Sunshine State in 62 years. With a new track setup, F1 will loop the stadium, home of the NFL's Miami Dolphins.
Excited for @F1 @f1miami @HardRockStadium - a Global Entertainment Destination. This event will bring opportunities for so many and will be world-class. Thank you to @gregmaffei #chasecarey #stefanodomenicali @MayorRHarris @Ogilbert @CommishDiaz @MayorDaniella pic.twitter.com/n6dDDD1cPX
— Tom Garfinkel (@TomGarfinkel) April 18, 2021
The new 3.36 mile circuit has 19 corners, three straights and potential for three DRS zones, with expected top speeds of 198 mph.
Now with two races in the U.S., F1 President Stefano Domenicali said they will avoid having back-to-back events by keeping the Miami Grand Prix separate from the U.S. Grand Prix, which is held at Austin's Circuit of the Americas.
The date of the race has yet to be confirmed, though Domenicali said he expects the first race in a 10-year deal to take place in the second quarter of 2022. Austin's race will take place on Oct. 24 this year.
"The USA is a key growth market for us, and we are greatly encouraged by our growing reach in the U.S. which will be further supported by this exciting second race," Domenicali said.
Miami will mark the 11th race location in the U.S. since the Championship began in 1950: Circuit of The Americas in Austin; Dallas, Texas; Indianapolis, Indiana; Sebring, Florida; Riverside, California; Watkins Glen, New York; Long Beach, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Detroit, Michigan and Phoenix, Arizona. COTA was first opened in 2012.
Domenicali said F1 will be working with the FIA and the Hard Rock Stadium to leave a lasting impact on the community: discounted tickets for residents, a program to support local businesses and a STEM education program through F1 in schools.
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