100% Austin news, info, and entertainment, straight to your inbox at 6 a.m. every morning.
In five minutes, you're fully informed and ready to start another great day in our city.
Austin Public Health will open up vaccine appointments to pre-registrants who are 40 and older starting Monday evening.
APH will release appointments in two batches: an early bird release on Monday morning through 10 a.m. that is only open to those in the 1A, 1B and 1C priority groups as well as educators and childcare providers, and then a regular release from 6-10 p.m. for those groups plus any pre-registrants 40 and older.
If there are additional appointments left over, the department will hold another regular release on Thursday evening from 6-10 p.m., following its normal schedule.
⚠️ Appointment Release Schedule for this week!
Early Bird Release: 4/5 7am-10am: 1A/1B/1C + childcare providers and educators
Regular Release: 4/5 6pm-10pm: 1A/1B/1C + childcare providers and educators, and all individuals 40+
— Austin Public Health (@AusPublicHealth) April 4, 2021
APH will receive 13,000 first doses this week, a slight increase from its regular 12,000-dose allocation.
Although the Texas Department of State Health Services expanded eligibility to all residents 16 and older last week, APH restricted its appointments to those in priority groups during its regular appointment drops last week, citing limited supply.
"We have to remember that there are many, many more people who want the vaccine than we have vaccine to give," Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said during a press conference Friday. "Once we have an indication that the line is shortened enough for us to open it to other individuals through Austin Public Health, we will do that."
APH registrants ages 16 to 39 who do not qualify as members of priority groups—because of a chronic medical condition or a job as a teacher, for example—will not be able to make an appointment through the department this week. APH recommends that they look to make an appointment at other local providers that have expanded eligibility in line with the state's guidelines.
Since debuting its online pre-registration system in January, APH has seen its virtual waiting system overwhelmed with hopeful vaccine recipients. Last week, however, the department reported an empty virtual waiting room at points during its Monday and Thursday releases.
UPDATE: There are 4K appointments remaining with no one in the waiting room.
— Austin Public Health (@AusPublicHealth) April 2, 2021
Despite this apparent dip in demand, APH also reports that more than a quarter of a million registrants fall in the priority groups and are still waiting on an appointment. As a result, the department will be doing further outreach to these accounts to fill available slots and incrementally expanding eligibility, including to the 40 and older group.
Still, some Austinites feel APH should expand eligibility further. "People signed up at multiple locations," one Twitter user responded to a recent update from APH. "Are you prepared to keep everyone else waiting while you do outreach to 258k?"
Many of the registrants who are currently eligible to receive a dose through APH may have made an appointment at another provider. To streamline its system, APH now allows users to report if they have already received a vaccine elsewhere and no longer require an appointment through the department. Registrants who fall in this category can log into the APH system here and, under "My Vaccinations," click on the link that says "I already received my 1st and/or 2nd vaccine dose from another provider," which will direct them to complete a form.
- APH debuts School Saturdays to vaccinate teachers, urges masking ... ›
- Austin public health officials reflect after one year of COVID - austonia ›
- Austin Public Health updates vaccine release schedule - austonia ›
With more research done on the COVID-19 Delta variant, Austin Public Health is upping its goal of 70% vaccinated to at least 80% due to the extreme virality of the strain.
As more Delta cases are identified—up to 29 cases are confirmed in Travis County—health officials are urging the unvaccinated to get their shots to contain the spread and relieve hospitals from reaching full capacity.
Austin-Travis County surpassed the Stage 5 threshold on Friday and has reached a seven-day average of 61 hospital admissions. However, Austin health leaders have yet to make an official shift as the Delta variant calls for new guidance, APH Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said at a joint Travis County Commissioners Court meeting on Tuesday morning.
The new guidance has yet to be released, but Walkes said it will take into account the viral load of Delta on both unvaccinated and vaccinated people.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed the Delta variant was as contagious as chickenpox, which has a herd immunity threshold of at least 90% vaccinated.
Although 63.42% of those eligible in Travis County are fully vaccinated, breakthrough cases—where vaccinated people are contracting COVID-19—are being identified. APH has identified 1,496 breakthrough cases of the roughly 800,000 vaccinated. Most breakthrough cases are showing less severe symptoms or are asymptomatic, according to APH.
Health officials are still asking residents to wear masks, although the city cannot mandate any masking orders due to an executive order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
"Our challenge is going to be whether we're going to stand as a community and everyone who can get vaccinated, get vaccinated, and everyone where a mask—that's what it's going to take," Walkes said.
- Most patients hospitalized for COVID-19 are unvaccinated - austonia ›
- Unvaccinated Austinites at risk of Delta variant with hospitals seeing ... ›
- UT warn of full-capacity ICUs, up to 11,000 more hospitalizations ... ›
- COVID hospitalizations reach Stage 4 threshold - austonia ›
- Delta variant, unvaccinated fuel rise of Austin COVID cases - austonia ›
Save Austin Now police petition will reach November ballot after county clerk certifies 25,000 signatures
Save Austin Now is now 2-0 over Austin City Council after its petition to add more staffed police officers to the Austin Police Department was certified, garnering over the 20,000 votes needed to make it on an election ballot.
The petition calls for more police staffing per city resident, quicker response times and more training for city police officers in the wake of increasing violent crime rates nationwide and a year of limited APD staffing. The City Council will now decide whether to implement the ordinance outright or add it to the November election ballot; it will likely do the latter.
Over 25,000 of the 27,778 signatures racked up by the public safety petition were certified as valid, well over the 20,000-vote threshold required to be certified with the City Clerk. City Clerk Jannette Goodall placed the city's seal of approval on the petition on Tuesday morning.
The petition, by the same political group that got the camping ban reinstated through a petition in May, seeks to:
- Require minimum staffing of two officers per 1,000 residents
- Require a minimum standard of 35% community response time
- Add 40 hours of training
- Require city council members, Mayor Steve Adler and other city staff to enroll in the Citizens Police Academy
- Facilitate minority officer hiring through foreign language proficiency metrics
Austin's 160 patrol vacancies have dropped its staffing rate to 1.2 officers per 1,000 residents, according to the department. APD's response time has increased by about one minute and 50 seconds in a year.
The petition comes nearly a year after APD's budgets were slashed by city council following the summer's Black Lives Matter protests, which saw several demonstrators severely injured as millions called for justice in the police-related deaths of George Floyd and locally Mike Ramos, an unarmed Black man killed by APD officer Christopher Taylor, in April 2020.
Austin and the U.S. have experienced a widespread uptick in violent crime rates in 2021. The city has reached 49 homicides in 2021, higher than the total number of murders in all of 2020 and the 38 homicides in the city in 2019. Austin police officers have seen response times rise as the department suffers increased vacancies and fewer newcomers while cadet classes are being readjusted.
Opponents argue the ordinance would ramp up a policing budget while taking away from other departments including Fire, EMS, violence prevention, and mental health care. City Council Member Greg Casar, the Travis County Democratic Party and the Austin Justice Coalition have spoken out against the organization's latest public safety move, calling out the campaign as a "right-wing petition" that misleads those who sign.
🔥 PANTS ON FIRE: Republican-front group Save Austin Now is lying about their petition!
They say their measure is about police reform, when it's really about devastating our city budget - all for the benefit of the police union. Watch the video here ⬇️ #ATX pic.twitter.com/Z6QQSfhHfH
— Gregorio Casar (@GregCasar) August 2, 2021
The latest battle between city council and Save Austin Now will be decided by Austin residents in the Nov. 2 election.
- Austin City Council drags on homeless camping ban reinstatement ... ›
- Conservative Jennifer Virden announces run for Austin mayor ... ›
- No homeless public camping vote on November ballot for Austin ... ›
- Save Austin Now sues city of Austin over camping ban petition ... ›
- City files response to Save Austin Now lawsuit - austonia ›
- Save Austin Now tries again to reinstate camping ban - austonia ›
- Save Austin Now calls on attorney in fight over Austin no-camping ... ›
- Save Austin Now relaunches petition to reinstate camping ban ... ›
- Save Austin Now submits police staffing petition - austonia ›
- Save Austin Now launches petition against crime - austonia ›
Austin City Limits fest and iHeartRadio Fest are the latest festivals to announce the removal of rapper DaBaby, who has come under fire for homophobic comments made during a recent festival.
The 29-year-old rapper, whose real name is Jonathan Lyndale Kirk, was dropped by Lollapalooza just hours before his set on Sunday, followed by the Governor's Ball in New York and Nevada's Day N Vegas after making unsolicited comments about men with HIV/AIDS at the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami. Rolling Stone Magazine confirmed with iHeartRadio organizers that DaBaby will no longer perform.
DaBaby will no longer be performing at Austin City Limits Music Festival — lineup update coming soon. pic.twitter.com/jAYfdJFxJf
— ACL Festival (@aclfestival) August 3, 2021
There is no word on who he will be replaced with yet, though rumors on ACL's subreddit, r/aclfestival, are saying they expect Tyler, The Creator, who performed at Lollapalooza. Kirk will be replaced at Day N Vegas by rapper Roddy Ricch.
Kirk later backtracked his offensive statements on his Instagram story, but again faced criticism for not exactly apologizing.
After facing a second round of backlash for his Instagram statements, the rapper posted on Instagram, saying:
In addition to being dropped from the festivals, DaBaby has been denounced by fellow celebrities like Dua Lipa, Madonna and Elton John.
- Bad vibes: Austin fears for fate of ACL—official word: 'too early to tell ... ›
- ACL brings a piece of normalcy back with iconic flags pitched in ... ›
- Some Austinites want ACL Festival out of Zilker Park - austonia ›
- Austin is back! ACL says in-person 2021 Zilker live music festival ›
- ACL 2021 lineup features Miley Cyrus, Black Pumas and more ... ›