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The Austin Convention Center is being prepared as a field hospital for up to 1,500 low-acuity coronavirus patients, local officials confirmed.


Sarah Eckhardt, special assistant to Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe, told the Austin American-Statesman that it will open on July 20, if needed, and is being paid for with local property tax dollars, a reimbursable expense under the CARES Act—the federal coronavirus relief package.

Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said on Wednesday that the convention center is intended to serve as a buffer in case hospitals reach capacity. But his goal is to avoid this outcome.

"We are desperately trying to avoid two things," he said. "Number one, the hospitals overcrowding and not being able to provide the world-class care they already do." Number two is a second economic shutdown, Dr. Escott.

Dr. Escott recommended the city begin preparing the convention center in late June, as COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations skyrocketed.

The city's surge plan, released in early April, did not name the convention center as an alternate care site, but said such facilities would be similar to combat surgical hospitals or large wards and serve low-acuity patients, such as those who need IVs or supplemental oxygen.

Austin's three hospital systems—Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health and St. Davids HealthCare—are collectively at 76% hospital capacity and 85% ICU capacity, they reported Tuesday evening. About 30% of in-use ICU beds are occupied by COVID patients, Dr. Escott told Travis County Commissioners on Tuesday.

ICU capacity is a particular concern—Dr. Escott called it a "pinch point" on Wednesday—and said that hospitals may need to transition non-ICU beds to meet demand. This would limit the number of hospital beds available for less critical patients and could perhaps hasten the need for the convention center as an alternate care side.

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Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway