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11 Austin area facilities will receive the Pfizer COVID vaccine this week, with more doses on the way
Eleven healthcare providers in Central Texas will receive a collective 16,575 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday as part of the state's initial shipment.
The following facilities in Hays, Travis and Williamson counties will receive between 975 and 2,925 doses of the vaccine, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services:
- Seton Medical Center Hays
- Seton Medical Center Austin
- Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas
- South Austin Medical Center
- Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas
- UT Health Austin
- Austin State Hospital
- North Austin Medical Center
- St. David's Medical Center
- Round Rock Medical Center
- Baylor Scott & White Health Medical Center Round Rock
UT Health Austin will receive its 2,925 dose allotment on Monday, a DSHS spokesperson confirmed to Austonia. Three other facilities—UT Health San Antonio, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and Methodist Dallas Medical Center—will also receive between 4,875 and 5,850 doses of the vaccine on Monday.
The remaining locations are expected to receive their vaccine shipments later in the week.
Ultimately, 109 sites across the state will receive more than 220,000 doses of the vaccine as part of this initial allotment.
The COVD vaccine will arrive in Texas within 48 hours & will be distributed immediately. Texas is slated to receiv… https://t.co/XYhg9Q3I0n— Greg Abbott (@Greg Abbott)1607796225.0
Gov. Greg Abbott has said Texas will receive 1.4 million doses by the end of the year, which is just slightly more than the 1.3 million cases confirmed statewide since the start of the pandemic.
Who will receive the vaccine first?
Front-line healthcare workers and EMS first responders have been identified as top priority recipients by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as state and local health authorities.
Nursing home residents and staff are also considered critical recipients. But most long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, will receive doses of the Pfizer vaccine through a federal program separate from the initial allotment happening this week.
Abbott announced Friday that the state will participate in the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program. Registered facilities will receive vaccines and staff assistance from partnership Walgreens and CVS locations free of charge starting on Dec. 28.
In Travis County, staff and residents at long-term care facilities account for nearly 42% of the 505 COVID deaths reported as of Sunday.
There are 139 long-term care facilities registered in Travis County, with a total of 8,419 residents among them, according to Texas Health and Human Services. Staff data was not available.
One concern raised by public health officials is how to convince vaccine skeptics as the distribution process gets underway.
Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott reviewed Pfizer's application for an emergency use authorization, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday.
"After reviewing that (document), I'll say that I'm extremely impressed with the efficacy and safety of this vaccine," he said Wednesday. "Overall, the effectiveness of the vaccine—95% for those individuals between the ages of 16 and 55—(is) so much better than I think anyone expected it to be."
The side effects associated with the vaccine are "relatively mild," Escott added, and akin to those seen with other vaccines: chills, muscle aches and swelling.
"Really no serious or concerning adverse events that would give us pause in terms of encouraging (its) use," he said.
But Patty Ducayet, the state's long-term care ombudsman, told Austonia last week that she has heard a "diversity of opinion" from residents' families. "I think we have a bit of a battle ahead of us," she said.
It will likely take many months before the vaccine is widely available to the general public, and local health officials have stressed that Austinites will need to maintain protective measures—such as masking, social distancing and hand washing—until herd immunity is achieved through mass vaccination.
Vaccines are on the way to provide relief to our elderly and healthcare workers. It is our duty to continue taking… https://t.co/5tNKJ8DkyI— Sarah Eckhardt (@Sarah Eckhardt)1607955120.0
It is likely, however, that Pfizer will soon be joined by other pharmaceutical companies in distributing a vaccine.
The FDA will meet with its advisory panel on Thursday to review Moderna's application for an EUA. Its vaccine works similarly to Pfizer's, requiring two doses, and the pharmaceutical company has posted similarly promising results in its clinical trials.
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a record-setting second quarter during an earnings call broadcasted from the Giga Texas construction site in Southeast Travis County on Monday.
The electric carmaker reported more than $1 billion in quarterly net income and the production of more than 200,000 vehicles for the first time despite challenges such as a global semiconductor shortage.
"It … seems that public sentiment towards electric vehicles is at an inflection point, and at this point, I think, almost everyone agrees electric vehicles are the only way forward," Musk said.
Exterior shots taken just a while ago of Giga Texas (while @elonmusk is reportedly at the Gigafactory!) during today's earnings call!
Hope @peterdog15 got to catch the technoking in his video! #fastestinhistory #Tesla pic.twitter.com/WqeDlb5wU3
— Austin Tesla Club (@AustinTeslaClub) July 26, 2021
Despite rising consumer demand and adequate factory capacity, Tesla faces what Musk described as a "quite serious" global semiconductor shortage, which will determine the company's growth rate for the rest of the year.
With increased revenue and production, Tesla is investing in new factories, Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn said. These include Giga Texas, the $1.1 billion manufacturing plant that broke ground last summer and is slated to open later this year.
The Giga Texas factory in Southeast Travis County has rapidly increased in size since ground broke last August. (Tesla)
Musk commended the construction team for "incredible progress," transforming what was basically a vacant site into "a mostly complete large factory a year later."
I was at Giga Texas yesterday. Team is making excellent progress. Building will be almost a mile long when complete.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 25, 2021
Giga Texas will produce the highly anticipated Cybertruck, along with other models, but Musk said scaling its production will be difficult, especially given the supply chain delays caused by the pandemic. "It's going to move as fast as the slowest of its up to 10,000 unique parts," he said.
In other news, Musk said Monday's earnings call would likely be his last regular appearance, only jumping on future quarterly calls when big announcements warrant it.
Tesla Solar recently made news when it announced plans to build the nation's most sustainable residential community in Southeast Austin earlier this month. The newly built homes will feature Tesla solar roof tiles and Powerwall battery storage as well as electric vehicle charging stations.
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The city of Austin released a shortlist of seven candidates for the police chief position left vacant when Brian Manley retired in March.
City Manager Spencer Cronk hopes to announce an appointment by the end of August, which will require City Council approval.
The finalists, chosen from a field of 46 applicants, include:
- APD Interim Chief Joseph Chacon, who previously served as an assistant chief in the department for almost five years
- Anne Kirkpatrick, former police chief in Oakland, California, who was fired last year after a federal monitor criticized her handling of a fatal 2018 police shooting of a homeless man
- Dallas Police Department Assistant Chief Avery L. Moore, who is a 30-year veteran of the department
- Atlanta Police Department Deputy Chief Celeste Murphy, who manages the department's community services division
- Dekalb County Police Chief Mirtha V. Ramos, who previously served as division chief in the Miami-Dade Police Department
- Wichita Police Department Chief Gordon Ramsay, who is a former president of the Minnesota Police Chief's Association as well as one of the first police chiefs of a major U.S. City to call George Floyd's death a murder, as reported by the Wichita Eagle
- Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Emada E. Tingirides, who is also commanding officer of the department's newly formed Community Safety Partnership Bureau, which serves L.A.'s underserved communities
City staff will interview the finalists in the coming weeks, with several community input opportunities to come, according to a Monday press release.
The city conducted a public survey in March and hosted community input meetings in April to learn more about what residents are looking for in their next police chief, which helped shape the selection criteria for the position.
"They want to see the Chief be reform-minded and transparent and have a track record of fostering community involvement and accountability," Cronk said in the release. "The candidates selected show these characteristics in various ways."
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Days after Austin began once again recommending masks in public spaces, Austin ISD announced Monday that kindergarten through sixth-grade classes will have virtual options this fall.
The district will discuss the move in a special board meeting Monday evening starting at 5 p.m., while full details will be released Friday.
Teachers will not have to fret about the new option—no educators will have to juggle both virtual and in-person learning. Instead, certain teachers will specialize in virtual education, according to a press release.
The news comes after a recent spike in COVID cases in Travis County and across the nation. Children typically suffer fewer symptoms of COVID when contracted, but they are now catching the virus more often than their older counterparts without a vaccine available to them and as the more contagious Delta variant is quickly being spread.
While local health officials are recommending everyone wear masks, public school districts are unable to mandate masks due to an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott in May.
Parents have expressed concern about classrooms with masks unenforceable and children under the age of 12 ineligible for a vaccine. Some have even said they would look for alternative schooling if AISD did not offer a virtual option for students.
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