Four providers in Travis County will receive vaccine doses starting Monday, Feb. 15, with the bulk going to hub provider Austin Public Health, as has been the case in recent weeks.
- Austin Public Health (12,000 doses)
- UT Health Austin (1,950 doses)
- CommUnity Care East Austin (500 doses)
- DSHS Central Pharmacy Warehouse (3,500 doses)
Although these providers may have doses to administer next week, many are limiting their supply to existing patient waitlists or reaching out to eligible candidates directly. View a list of providers with a waitlist here. Note that the DSHS Central Pharmacy Warehouse does not serve the general public.
With this latest allocation, Travis County will have received 155,725 doses overall. Local public health officials estimate that there are 285,000 area residents who fall in the 1A and 1B priority groups.
As of midday Friday, 100,680 Travis County residents have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine and 39,281 residents have received both doses, according to Texas Department of State Health Services data.
DSHS will allocate 407,650 initial doses of the COVID vaccine to 302 providers across the state this week, focusing on hub providers capable of widespread community distribution as well as smaller providers serving older adults. This represents a slight increase compared to last week's allocation.
Additionally the federal government shipped 80,000 vaccine doses to 376 pharmacy locations across Texas. Participating pharmacies include CVS, H-E-B and Walmart, as well as some independent pharmacies. Last week, 15 Austin-area CVS and H-E-B pharmacy locations received such direct shipments.
The state health department is encouraging providers to make accommodations—such as reserving doses, offering special hours and facilitating in-home vaccinations—for people who are 75 or older because they remain at the highest risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. People 70 and older account for 5% of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Travis County but 34% of COVID-related hospitalizations in the Austin metro and 60% of the county's COVID deaths, according to Austin Public Health data.
In addition to this initial dose allocation, DSHS is also expecting to distribute 333,650 second doses of the vaccine to local providers to administer to individuals who received their first shot a few weeks ago.
Some local vaccine recipients may be concerned about receiving their second doses. On Monday, APH posted an update on Facebook explaining that it had not yet received a corresponding allocation of second doses for those vaccinated by the department last month. But Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard offered reassurances on Tuesday, confirming that the department had received its second doses by then. "This is a significant amount of anxiety, but I can give folks the comfort in knowing that you will definitely receive your second dose from us," she told Austin City Council.
Until recently, the federal government automatically issued second dose allocations to states after the initial allocation was sent out. Last month, this changed; the federal government now requires states to order second dose allocations. As a result, DSHS followed suit and now requires local providers—such as APH—to place orders for their second doses. "For these first several weeks, we're going to be working really closely with them," Director of Media Relations Chris Van Deusen told Austonia.
Austinites may still be concerned that they will not receive their second doses within the optimal window: three weeks for Pfizer's vaccine, four for Moderna's. Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott addressed these concerns on Tuesday, pointing to new guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Jan. 21. In cases where "it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval and a delay in vaccination is unavoidable," the agency advises that second doses may be administered up to six weeks after the first ones. "This creates some flexibility in the scheduling of that second dose," Esoctt told Travis County commissioners.
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Expect some whiplash this week, Austinites: with an expected high of 103 degrees, Monday is predicted to be the hottest day of the year, but a midweek cold front is on the way to bring that first glimpse of fall.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport could see its first 100-degree temperature this year on Monday as temperatures citywide are expected to exceed this year's record of 102 degrees.
The cold front arrives Tuesday afternoon to evening.#atx #atxwx #cbsaustinwx https://t.co/rQni6ug3y4 pic.twitter.com/PoFeHPYtnM
— Chikage Windler WX (@ChikageWeather) September 20, 2021
After a typical summery Tuesday with highs in the mid-90s, Wednesday will welcome the first signs of fall as a cold front drops lows into the 50s.
Expect more wind and a chance of rain come Tuesday with a 40% chance of scattered storms. The cold front, which should last through Friday, will bring drier, crisper air that could cause fire hazards on Wednesday.
Highs will be in the upper 80s and lows in the 50s and lower 60s for the front's final two mornings.
After near record heat today, a cold front arrives tomorrow! Hang in there South-Central Texas, we have almost made it. pic.twitter.com/yd9UbNo7hY
— NWS Austin/San Antonio (@NWSSanAntonio) September 20, 2021
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After months of speculation, a new report says political personality Beto O'Rourke is mulling a run for Texas governor that he will announce later this year.
Sources tell Axios the former congressman is preparing his campaign for the 2022 election, where he will likely vie for the position against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. The only other candidate that has announced he will take on Abbott for governor is former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West—no Democrats have announced they are running as of yet.
"No decision has been made," Axios reports David Wysong, O'Rourke's former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser, said. "He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state."
A new poll from The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler shows O'Rourke is narrowing the gap between himself and Abbott's prospects for governor. In the poll, 37% said they'd vote for O'Rourke over Abbott, while 42% said they'd vote for Abbott.
Abbott has been in the hot seat due to his handling of COVID-19 and the signing of landmark legislation into law, including new abortion and voting rights laws; 54% of poll respondents voted they think the state is headed in the "wrong direction." Still, Texas hasn't had a Democrat as governor since the 90s.
O'Rourke's people-focused approach to the 2018 Senator race, which he lost to Sen. Ted Cruz, gave him a widespread following and many hoped he'd throw his hat into the ring since he said he was considering it earlier this year.
"We hope that he's going to run," Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. "We think he'll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott because he's vulnerable."
Austin rapper Jordi Esparza may not have won the 2021 Red Bull Batalla, the world's largest Spanish freestyle rap competition, but for a spirited two rounds, the 22-year old Mexican native looked like he had every right to.
On Saturday evening in Los Angeles, the event itself looked like Cobra Kai meets Star Search with graphics adding a very Batman Beyond aesthetic. Over a dozen rappers hoping to represent the U.S. in the international round of the competition took to the stage with in-your-face jabs at accents, sexual orientation and odors, among other things.
This was Esparza's second rodeo; he had placed third at the 2020 National Finals, automatically securing him a spot this year.
However, things were different this year. He was not nervous about the contest. Unlike in 2020, when he made his Red Bull Batalla debut, the anxiety of the event led him to "feeling so bad."
Affecting a casual calm, the locally-based landscaper said he just felt "so relaxed, so happy" and primarily wanted to "enjoy everything."
Choosing his first-round opponent, Esparza, whose stage name is Jordi, elected to go against LA-based Boss.
Esparza freestyled an attack on his opponent's weight and cholo style of dress.
Boss—bracketing his Latin freestyle with English appeals to the crowd—mocked Jordi's lack of education, made fun of how clean Jordi's shoes looked and suggested that Jordi just came back from a Footlocker.
That first round went to Jordi.
But his next opponent Eckonn would prove to be his undoing.
Eckonn compared Jordi to Hannah Montana, while Jordi soulfully explained that he had learned from the best.
Esparza's verbal dexterity is matched by a rattling rhythm and a game face that is as mawkish as it is mockish. The overall effect is that of an underdog with bite.
Eckonn beat Esparza in that round with the overall championship going to Palm Beach-based rapper Reverse.
However, Esparza was just happy to be there. He recently told Austonia going to the finals again was a dream come true—a pinnacle that he said he won't know how to top.
With his nimble jabs and sneaky prowess, honed from pop culture and the swagger of a young working man hungry to be more, Jordi Esparza is just getting started.