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.
With an extremely limited vaccine supply, Austin Public Health is now focusing its distribution events on individuals who are 65 years of age or older, public health officials said Friday.
"We have more than 129,000 of (people in this category)," APH Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard said Friday, adding Austin residents who do not fall into this demographic group to be patient.
APH has received 25,300 doses of the COVID vaccine from the state since the federal rollout began in mid-December, with the vast majority of those doses arriving in the last two weeks. Austin Public Health has administered 18,427 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine—or around 73% of its total supply—to community members as of Thursday.
Despite the bumpiness of the rollout—which has been mired by mixed messages, tech glitches and limited supply—Austinites may start to see the benefits of mass vaccination among the elderly. The area could see deaths and hospitalizations decrease, as the virus has the most severe symptoms for those individuals.
"As we gain herd immunity within those age groups, we start to see the threat of overwhelming our healthcare system dissipate very quickly," Escott said, adding that by March or April the metro could reasonably vaccinate the 70% of people 65 years of age needed to achieve herd immunity in that group.
However, APH is constrained by the number of vaccines it is allocated by the state—and a lack of lead time. The Texas Department of State Health Services typically announces its weekly allocations on Sunday, which means that providers such as APH cannot schedule appointments or set up distribution events more than a few days in advance.
"Is it frustrating? Yes." Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said of this process. "Mostly because there's not enough."
People in that age group can sign up for APH's pre-registration system. As its vaccine supply is replenished, it will alert those on the list about available appointments.
In the meantime, Escott offered the advice he has given to his parents and in-laws: "Sign up for whatever list you can sign up for," he said. "Because it's not clear who's getting vaccines next week and who's not."
Readers can find area vaccine waitlists here.
- Austin COVID curve is flattening but vaccines remain limited - austonia ›
- Austin healthcare offering COVID-19 vaccine waitlists - austonia ›
- Austin Public Health debuts COVID vaccine sign-up list - austonia ›
- Austin Public Health to receive 12,000 doses of COVID vaccine ... ›
- Austin Public Health prepares for COVID vaccine distribution ... ›
Matthew McConaughey is reportedly weighing a run for Texas governor in 2022.
The Austin resident and Oscar winner has been "quietly making calls to influential people in Texas political circles, including a deep-pocketed moderate Republican and energy CEO" as he decides whether to run, according to Politico.
McConaughey said a gubernatorial run is "a true consideration" while on a March episode of Houston's "The Balanced Voice" podcast.
Although most political strategists doubt McConaughey's commitment and viability as a candidate, some are still intrigued by the possibility.
"I find it improbable, but it's not out of the question," Karl Rove, a top Republican strategist with a long history in Austin, told the political news site. He added that the big question is whether McConaughey would run as a Republican, a Democrat or an independent.
Brendan Steinhauser, an Austin-based GOP strategist, told Politico he's surprised McConaughey isn't being taken more seriously. "Celebrity in this country counts for a lot," he said. "It's not like some C-list actor no one likes. He has an appeal."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott plans to run for a third term and remains popular among Republican voters, 77% of whom approve of his performance as of April, according to the Texas Politics Project.
Some strategists believe an independent McConaughey run would benefit Abbott. But a recent poll from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler found that McConaughey would beat Abbott, 45% to 33%, with 22% opting for someone else.
Mimi Swartz, an executive editor at Texas Monthly, mulled a McConaughey run in a recent opinion essay from the New York Times. "Texas may not be ready for a philosopher king as a candidate, much less governor," she wrote. "May the best man win, man."
- Matthew McConaughey featured on the cover of People Magazine ... ›
- Minister of Culture Matthew McConaughey talks preserving Austin ... ›
- McConaughey to showcase Texas talent in winter storm benefit ... ›
- Texans vote McConaughey in latest governor poll - austonia ›
Some JuiceLand production facility workers and storefront employees are organizing to demand wage increases, better working conditions (including air conditioning in the warehouse) and pay transparency, among other asks. They are also calling on staff to strike and customers to boycott the Austin-based company until their demands are met.
JuiceLand responded on Saturday. "We are listening," the company wrote on their Instagram story. "JuiceLand crew now makes guaranteed $15 an hour or more companywide."
JuiceLand, which was founded in 2001 by Matt Shook and now has 35 locations in Austin, Houston and Dallas, acknowledged the rising cost of living across Texas and the added stress of the pandemic in an email to employees on Saturday, part of which @juicelandworkersrights shared on social media. "There's no denying that times are tough and financial security means more now than ever," the company wrote.
Organized JuiceLand workers rejected this proposal, according to a recent post on the @juicelandworkersrights Instagram account, and reiterated their demands.
"Cost of living in Austin is rising exponentially and will only continue to get worse with the tech boom," the post read. "$15 is barely a sustainable living."