In the one year since the first person tested positive for COVID-19 in Texas, 754 Travis County residents have died from the virus. Older residents—those 60 and older—have been disproportionately affected, representing 12% of the county's confirmed cases but 82% of deaths. So, too, are Latino residents, who make up 33.6% of the county population and account for 46% of COVID deaths.
Although testing and vaccine access have both improved, coinciding with a declining case-fatality rate, the pandemic remains threatening to many—COVID is the third-leading cause of death in Travis County, second only to cancer and heart diseases—and continues to devastate families around Austin.
In a trying year that has included not only the coronavirus but also mass protests against police violence, economic hardship, a divisive election and a series of devastating winter storms, Austonia recognizes those who have died from COVID. Here are the names of 36, or just shy of 5%, of them and—where available through obituaries, fundraising pages and local reports—a brief glimpse at their lives.
Feb. 13, 2021: A. Robert Fischer, 63, loved the company of dear friends, good wine and food, attending the University of Texas football and basketball games and, most of all, his family, according to his obituary.
Jan. 20, 2021: James Ernst, 98, was preceded by the 411,534 Americans who had died from the virus at the time of his death, according to his obituary. He joined the army in 1942 and supported the D-Day invasion by parachuting into LaHavre, France in October 1945. In 2019, he was honored with France's highest award for his role in the country's liberation.
Jan. 16, 2021: Dwight Eugene Cassell, 89, received a recommendation from one of his geology professors at the University of Texas at Austin to "call on a certain young lady" who later became his beloved wife of 64 years, according to his obituary.
Jan. 12, 2021: Joe Alvarado Jr., 76, was an Austin Police Department training instructor, who had earned a 10th degree black belt in Soryu karate and had a passion for embroidery. "Joe truly loved our officers and they loved him the same," the Austin Police Association wrote in a Facebook post following his death.
Jan. 10, 2021: Chencho Flores, 91, a veteran accordionist, began playing music in Austin in the 1940s and remained a renowned member of the local conjunto—a Tejano-style ensemble—scene through the 2010s.
Jan. 8, 2021: James Robert "Jim Bob" Moffett, 82, was born on the same day as Elvis Presley's death and died on Presley's birthday. The oil magnate and University of Texas donor often impersonated the singer at parties or his children's events.
Jan. 8, 2021: Kenneth "Beaver" Ray Bray, 82, was a 50-year member of the Balcones Country Club, where he spent some of his best times with his best friends, and enjoyed his work with House of Friends, an Alzheimer's respite program, according to his obituary.
Dec. 15, 2020: Patricia Dean Dodgen, 84, was "an Austinite through and through," according to her obituary. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, taught at multiple elementary schools around town and traveled the world with the Flying Longhorns.
Dec. 2, 2020: Patricia Perez, 70, was a dedicated Travis County poll worker who had a passion for politics. Her family believes she contracted the virus while working during the early voting period last October.
Sept. 5, 2020: Guadalupe "Shorty" Ortiz, 78, recorded the hit song "Un Ratito," which was nominated for a Tejano Music Award, when he was 19 and founded two bands: Shorty and the Corvettes, a popular '60s group, and Mariachi Corbetas, which included his son and grandson. A charismatic performer, he would often choose a woman in the crowd to sing his songs too. "Let's say eight times out of 10, they would start crying," his son told the Austin American-Statesman.
We have had the Ortiz Family in our hearts and minds and will dearly miss our friend, Guadalupe "Shorty" Ortiz. Ortiz was an Austin music icon with his groups Shorty & the Corvettes and Mariachi Corbetas. pic.twitter.com/ttPsszCoY3
— Texas Folklife (@texasfolklife) September 18, 2020
Aug. 21, 2020: René van Zanten, 76, was born in Jakarta, Indonesia and later moved with his family to the Netherlands before immigrating to the U.S. He spent the last 13 years of his life in Austin and will be "remembered by many for his vast intellect, engaging personality and love of life," according to his obituary.
Aug. 19, 2020: Sebastian "Sebe" Cardenas, 53, grew up in East Austin the youngest of six children and later became a father—and father figure—to many, according to his obituary. He loved grilling, the Dallas Cowboys and jamming out to classic rock.
Aug. 14, 2020: Jesse "Chuy" Ramirez Morales, 77, was one of nine members of his family to contract the virus. His son, Roger, was released from the hospital in December after a five-month stay, according to Spectrum News; his other son, George, is a Travis County constable and hopes to encourage his community to get vaccinated to help avoid a similar loss.
Aug. 14, 2020: Virginia Ann Hranitzky Hirsch, 92, was known as the Flounder Lady in Port O'Connor, Texas, where she fished with her son until she could no longer get in and out of a boat, due to her prowess for the sport.
Aug. 2, 2020: Willie Showels Sr., 81, opened Willie's Bar-B-Q on East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard with his wife, Pearlie Mae, in 1991 and served as its pitmaster until early last year. He is survived by 10 of his 11 children, 42 grandchildren and 72 great-grandchildren, according to Austin 360.
Late July 2020: Claudia Bertaud, 48, loved dancing to norteñas, a genre of music from Northern Mexico, according to KXAN. She worked as a Spanish immersion preschool teacher in South Austin and stopped going to work after developing a cough.
July 28, 2020: Lois P. Villaseñor, 87, was a dedicated and pioneering funeral home director for over 40 years, tirelessly serving East Austin families as one of the state's first female funeral home directors. The day after her death, her son, Charles Villaseñor II hosted a funeral service for another family. "They said, 'Your mother just died, you're here doing a funeral?'" he told the Austin Business Journal. "I just told them my mom would have expected me to do my job and treat them right."
July 25, 2020: James Nagy, 71, was known for his personal style and good eye for antique furniture and art. He also took great pride in raising his daughters "to be as empowered and adventurous as he was," according to his obituary. "Whether it was a road trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains or an NYC subway ride, he was determined to show them the world."
July 19, 2020: Billy "Logan" Pausewang, 94, married his wife, Imola, at Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin, where his funeral was held after his death from COVID. "God needed the 'best machinist' in heaven so He called Logan home," according to his obituary.
July 16, 2020: Raymond Guillory, 78, loved woodworking and "dancing as often as he could" to country music bands, according to his obituary.
July 15, 2020: Edmund Gerald "Jerry" Wermund, 94, spent his career focused on the geology of the Gulf Coast region. In his retirement, he volunteered as a docent for the Austin Children's Museum, now the Thinkery, and published four scholastic children's books about geology and earth resources.
July 13, 2020: Manuel Alvarado was a "much-loved" custodian at Crockett Early College High School, according to a GoFundMe organized by Principal Kori Crawford, and spent much of his free time renovating his home in Cedar Creek.
July 12, 2020: Jordan Herrera, 38, died four days after walking himself out to the ambulance that took him to the hospital, where he died of COVID after saying goodbye to his fiancée and their two daughters over Zoom.
July 9, 2020: Mary Margaret "Sug" Blackwell, 83, earned a bronze medal in diving at the Junior Olympics, served as a duchess during Fiesta in San Antonio and was famous for her recipes, including for crab rolls, rum cake and gumbo, according to her obituary.
July 3, 2020: Vincent Paul Segura, 64, earned an offer to try out with the Houston Astros as a teenager and spent his later years spending time with his family and friends, who remember him as a one-of-a-kind South Austin legend.
June 13, 2020: Dale LaPlant, 81, celebrated his 35th birthday 47 times. His ashes will be placed in the Neptune Memorial Reef off the coast of Key Biscayne, Florida.
June 11, 2020: Michael Hickson, 46, was a Black father of five with quadriplegia and COVID-19 whose death raised concerns among disability rights activists and community leaders. "ADAPT of Texas has long been concerned about the devaluation and resulting lack of care for people with disabilities, especially in this pandemic," the local disability rights organization wrote on its website in the wake of Hickson's death.
June 3, 2020: Harold Miller, 74, opened a small private practice dedicated to serving low-income and uninsured Austinites, which he called "Texas Country Doctor in the City," according to his obituary.
May 27, 2020: Billie Lee Turner, 95, was a professor emeritus in the integrative biology department at the University of Texas at Austin and one of the nation's foremost plant taxonomists, with a particular expertise in the sunflower family. One of his proudest accomplishments was quintupling the size of the UT herbarium to one million holdings, according to a Texas Leader Magazine profile.
May 19, 2020: David Uhrich, 60, died at Hospital Galveston after being transferred from a Navasota prison, where he was serving a five-year sentence out of Travis County. People in Texas prisons die from COVID at disproportionately high rates: 140% higher than the statewide rate and 35% higher than the national prison population average, according to a November report from the University of Texas at Austin.
April 18, 2020: David Colbert, 47, was among the 256 homeless residents who died on Austin's streets last year. The National Coalition for the Homeless cited his experience in its 2003 list of "Meanest Cities" for poor and homeless people, on which Austin ranked eighth.
April 17, 2020: Maurice Dotson, 51, was a certified nursing assistant at a South Austin nursing home and one of the first health care workers in Austin to die from the virus. A friend told the Austin American-Statesman that he would check in on his residents every single night to make sure they didn't need anything before he headed home.
April 16, 2020: Lois Thomas, 89, was an avid reader and kept a thick notebook throughout her life, where she listed the books she had read.
April 16, 2020: Barbara Jane Gardner, 86, "enjoyed nothing more than a long conversation in the kitchen while cooking and watching her detective shows," according to her obituary. She spent the last four years of her life in a nursing home, where her husband of 63 years visited her every day.
April 14, 2020: Selma Esther Ryan, 96, died of COVID more than 100 years after her sister, Esther, died at age 5 during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. Because of her husband's military appointments, she and her family lived in Ethiopia during a coup d'etat; she dug out one of the bullets lodged in their home and had it gold-plated for her charm bracelet.
April 2, 2020: Patricia Hernandez, 51, was a "much-loved" community member at Casis Elementary School and longtime employee of Austin ISD. Annelise Tanner, AISD's executive director of food service, told CBS Austin: "Pati would always show me the food she'd prepared for the kids that day and was very proud of the quality of food that she prepared for the kids."
- UT Austin reports second staff member death related to COVID ... ›
- 48 Austinites killed in 2020. Here are their names. - austonia ›
- Dia de los Muertos: Austinites put up altars despite COVID - austonia ›
- Austin public health officials reflect after one year of COVID - austonia ›
- Second Austin police officer dies of COVID in just 24 hours - austonia ›
- COVID death toll higher now in Austin than last year - austonia ›
Just weeks after music fest Austin City Limits, Austin will be host to another global event as the Circuit of the Americas hosts Formula 1's United States Grand Prix race for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.
The weekend-long fest will have events stretching from Friday, Oct. 29 through Sunday, Oct. 31 for North America's premier Formula 1 race.
With three days of races, parades and more, it can be hard to know what to expect for an event that COTA chairman Bobby Epstein said would be "the biggest event on the planet this year."
Don't miss a beat:
But have no fear. Here's Austonia's complete guide to make sure your trip to the U.S. Grand Prix is out of this world:
What to bring
While some may have bought tickets just for the big race, others are planning for a three-day fest of constant outdoor activity. For the foreigners and out-of-towners, October weather in Austin may not be quite what you expect—many joke that a Texas "fall" is near-nonexistent. Check the weather often to see what's in store.
Our prediction is that shorts or flowy pants/skirts, a short-sleeve shirt and a light jacket may suffice. If it looks like rain is on the horizon, don't forget a poncho and/or small umbrella as there isn't much coverage from the elements once you're there.
Regardless of weather, it's a safe bet to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat and some bug spray as well. Other not-so-typical items to pack in your bag—which should be smaller than 12x12x20 inches—include earplugs for the big race, binoculars and your phone camera to capture those Ferraris at full-speed.
Depending on your seats, don't forget a folding chair, and to pack a sealed plastic water bottle if you can—it's the only type of food or drink that's permitted on the property.
Keep all tents/canopies, coolers and large umbrellas at home. Check out more on what not to bring here.
Make sure you've got your tickets and you're all set!
trying to get from your parking spot to your seat 15 minutes before the race starts pic.twitter.com/2ly2DDcUVU— Circuit of The Americas (@COTA) February 8, 2021
COTA's notorious parking can be a doozy—F1 1 fan Kevin Andrew said he's spent two and a half hours in line for the venue's sprawling paved and grass lots.
If you're of the impatient sort, it may be smart to look for some early-bird treatment even before gates open at 7 a.m. Friday, 8 a.m. Saturday and 6:25 a.m. Sunday. Show up well before your first desired event starts, especially on Sunday.
For those looking to beat the crowd and keep some change, shuttles will pick up from five locations around the city for $15 a day. An additional Park-N-Ride lot, Lot Q, will also allow guests to drop their cars off and take the shuttle to COTA. Click here for shuttle information.
Additional transportation amenities include a drop-off spot for limos, taxis and rideshare apps. Bicyclists will have access to showers in the GEICO Premium RV Lot.
Food, music and more
COTA will become a "World Fair"-esque fest full of local eats, live music and out-of-the-ordinary activities as part of the U.S. Grand Prix. (Circuit of the Americas)
Once you've entered those gates, the actual event will be a lot to take in. Anywhere from 300-350K people are expected to attend the big race, and fans are more excited than ever after nearly two years with no F1 in North America.
But just as fun as the big race—at least for more casual viewers—are the many attractions leading up to it.
Some highlights include performances from Twenty One Pilots and Billy Joel on Friday and Saturday, respectively, two races for the all-women's racing championship W Series and junior championship FIA Formula 4, NASCAR demos and a driver's parade on Sunday just before the race.
This is also a chance for Austin to entertain guests from far and wide—like a "World's Fair," as Andrews put it—and COTA will ensure that Austin remains on the map.
The "Live Music Capital of the World" will earn its rep with over 20 concerts across multiple stages on Saturday and Sunday. Highlights include Kool and the Gang and 15 Austin ensembles including The Ghost Wolves, Mobley and three-time Best of Austin winner DJ Chorizo Funk.
That Austin flair is well-represented in cuisine as well—expect over 30 dining options including local favorites Bao'd Up, Easy Tiger, Amy's Ice Cream and Tiny Pies scattered across the grounds. Check out the Taste of Texas section for local eats, the Biergarten for Bavarian beer, food and polka dancing, Lone Star Land for Austin's classic Chicken Shit Bingo and line dancing, and La Cantina for some Tex-Mex and a Selena tribute.
Still not satisfied? COTA's Onederland claims to host the best F1 General Admission lawn in the world and is packed with more than just amusement park rides. Expect the annual SPAMARAMA (yes, a Spam-themed festival,) axe throwing, the Major League Eating Championship and plenty of performers on stilts. Don't forget to ink a COTA-themed tattoo with an on-site tattoo artist as well.
Formula 1—a breakdown
New to Formula 1? You're not alone—the sport has exploded in popularity in North America after gaining recognition from Netflix series "Drive To Survive." With a new track set to open in Miami, that growth will only continue.
Here's what you need to know to get caught up:
Formula 1 vehicles are arguably the fastest road-racing cars in the world. The open-wheeled single-seaters can reach top speeds around 215 miles per hour and all adhere to a "formula" set by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile.
Formula 1 is the top formula racing league in the world and consists of 20 drivers across 10 teams who compete in venues across North and South America, Central Asia and its native continent, Europe. F1 has existed in some form for over 70 years and features races on closed city streets as well as purpose-built racetracks like COTA.
The league is massively popular in Europe but has seen intermittent success in North America. The U.S. Grand Prix was first held in 1908 and flip-flopped across 10 different locales for 49 appearances over the next century, last spending seven years in Indianapolis from 2000-2007 before making a home in Austin in 2012.
This U.S. Grand Prix will be its 50th race and will be the 17th race of the season.
The Big Race—Hamilton v. Verstappen
Defending champion Lewis Hamilton is in for some stiff competition from a young Max Verstappen as they fight for the F1 Championship. (Mercedes-AFG Petronas F1 Team/Twitter) (Red Bull Racing/Twitter)
The league's 20 drivers have crisscrossed across the map through the season, adapting to locales across four continents with vastly different terrains. But one factor has remained constant—standouts Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have rarely left the leaderboard.
Just six points differentiate the two-star drivers with over a dozen races in—a margin low enough that the true winner may not be evident until the very end. With 262.5 points, Dutchman Verstappen holds the slight lead over Great Britain's Hamilton and both have over 1.5X the points of the next runner-up, Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton and Bottas make up Team Mercedes, the No.1 team in the league, while Verstappen and fifth-place Sergio Perez constitute second-place team Red Bull Racing Honda.
The evenly matched team, evenly-matched cars and neck-and-neck standings have brought forth a fan-fueled rivalry that F1 hasn't seen for quite some time.
This U.S. Grand Prix, much like the rest of the season, will be a testament of old vs. new. A 36-year-old Hamilton has taken home seven F1 championships, including a four-year dominance in the sport from 2017-2020, and has won on U.S. turf at COTA five times. Meanwhile, the 24-year-old Verstappen was once the youngest F1 driver and youngest Grand Prix race winner ever and has since finished third for two consecutive years.
The heated rivalry has culminated in three dangerous crashes throughout the season, including one at the Italian Grand Prix Sept. 13. Grand Prix Drivers' Association chairman Alex Wurz said it is "very likely" that they will again.
That next crash site may or may not be at COTA, but the U.S. Grand Prix will still see the two titans clash once more as the season nears its end. Expect either or both to end at the top of the leaderboard, and make sure to bring up either name to a committed fan if you're looking for some sideline banter.
Other racers to look out for include Bottas as a likely third-place contender and some mid-race fun from Perez and fourth-place rival Lando Norris.
For a full weekend schedule click here. Happy COTA days!
- NASCAR returning to Austin's COTA for second year - austonia ›
- Formula 1 is returning to Austin in 2021 - austonia ›
- NASCAR comes to austin, here's how it went - austonia ›
- Formula 1 is returning to Austin in 2021 - austonia ›
- W Series announce F1 partnership race at COTA in 2021 - austonia ›
- Formula 1 announces Miami Grand Prix, COTA no longer only U.S. ... ›
- Could the US Grand Prix 'F1 be done with Austin's COTA? - austonia ›
With two weeks of rest, a dream team lineup and nearly 20 scoring attempts in the match, Austin FC could have come away with a three-match home win streak against Minnesota United on Saturday.
Instead, missed opportunities and an equally boisterous opponent forced Austin to leave Q2 with a 1-0 loss to Minnesota.
Austin FC brought what appeared to be their strongest lineup to date to the pitch after their two-week break, including breakout stars Sebastian Driussi and Moussa Djitte. But even with dozens of shots between the two teams, the home team couldn't find their footing in the back-and-forth match.
After landing a brace in the team's 2-1 win against Real Salt Lake, Austin's Cecilio Dominguez struck first in the match with a shot on goal in the eighth minute of play. The scoring attempt opened the floodgates—in just three minutes, teammates Moussa Djitte and Sebastian Driussi would follow suit with their own looks at goal.
Just seconds later, Minnesota bounced back with a shot that forced Austin keeper Brad Stuver to jump for his first save, but a bad sendoff from the Verde and Black left Stuver unable to block another as the Loons' Franco Fragapone scored from close range in the 16th minute.
Despite a wide array of scoring attempts—from Djitte's blocked high-fliers to Tomas Pochettino's many near misses—Minnesota would stay on top for the remainder of the match.
A few flops from Minnesota, including a poorly-acted fall from the Loons' Emmanuel Arriaga (which was unrewarded and resulted in an Arriaga yellow card) and a controversial foul given to Moussa Djitte as he nearly made a solo drive to goal added to Austin's woes.
The Verde and Black's final attempt came as Austin center back Julio Cascante placed a close-range header in the final seconds of regulation, but the home team was unable to capitalize on their many attempts.
Both teams shared over 30 shots in the match, with Austin making eight shots on target. Austin FC held over 65% possession and received 12 fouls to Minnesota's nine.
It could soon be impossible for Austin FC to reach the playoffs, but Verde fans still have two chances to catch their team at home. Austin's first season will wrap up with five final matches, including a 4 p.m. Sunday game against the Houston Dynamo on October 24 and an 8 p.m. Wednesday match against Sporting KC on Nov. 4.
Here's a live blog of the match:
80' Austin makes first subs
With just over 10 minutes left in regulation ,Austin FC made some late-game subs, swapping Diego Fagundez for Austinite McKinze Gaines and Sebastian Driussi for forward Jon Gallagher. Both have a history of clutch performances for the team: Gaines scored just 10 minutes in to his first match of the game back in September, while Gallagher was Austin's first scorer at Q2 Stadium.
It's looking more like a draw at best for Austin as the time continues to tick down on the match.
61' Djitte loses chance after controversial call
In the 61st minute of a less-cohesive half for Austin, Moussa Djitte found himself alone near the goal with a good chance at making the home team's first goal. But referees had another ideas, making another controversial call on the Senegalese striker.Refs stopped Djitte's menacing drive after Minnesota's Michael Boxall appeared to flop in a run-in with the striker, curbing Djitte's attempt to boos from the crowd. It's Djitte's second foul of the night and the team's ninth foul in the match. Both clubs host a yellow card, with center back Julio Cascante holding the home team's sole warning call. Minnesota's Emmanuel Reynoso holds the away team's yellow after an obvious flop that left him rolling on the ground for minutes, waiting on a call.
Blown whistles for both sides have slowed the match's tempo and left both clubs reeling as Austin looks for its first goal.
At the half: Austin still can't finish
45' still left to play. pic.twitter.com/39J1XnvvOc— Austin FC (@AustinFC) October 17, 2021
With minutes-long shooting sprees and more shots on goal than Minnesota, Austin could easily have the lead in the match. But each crowd-raising attempt has still been slightly skewed as the home team ends the half with nothing on the board.
In just 45 minutes, both Austin and Minnesota have reached the double-digits in scoring attempts, but Minnesota's ability to infiltrate Austin's penalty box has given them the leg up in the match. The Loons have sometimes found themselves nearly alone alarmingly close to goal, and they've capitalized on their chances with a 16thb minute goal by Franco Fragapane.
Austin FC, however, has not. The club has seen close calls from Dominguez and Driussi, headers from Djitte and near-misses from Tomas Pochettino, but missed opportunities and a few strokes of bad luck have left them scoreless. The team will need to shake their age-old scoring issues if they hope to get back into tonight's game.
16' Minnesota nabs 1-0 lead
Austin may have struck first, but Minnesota won the first points on the board as Franco Fragapane got one past keeper Brad Stuver from a close range in the 16th minute to make it 1-0. The Loons tested Stuver just as Austin did Miller, making two anxiety-inducing shots before Fragapane struck gold.
This goalie-vs.-goalie match has already seen three shots on goal from each team and a relatively quiet midfield as each team dukes it out in the box.
11' Austin tests Minnesota first
Austin FC has taken no time to threaten goal. In a three-minute span, the home team has racked up three shots, two of which are on goal, as the ball bounces between Austin attackers but can't quite find the net.
Dominguez strikes first as he looks to find his third goal in three matches in the eights minute, but Minnesota's Tyler Miller fights back with a clutch save. Djitte then tests Miller just seconds later, while Driussi takes a final shot from farther back that just misses the top left corner.
Austin's Fagundez and Pochettino were the playmakers of the three-minute shooting spree, but the club still came out scoreless. Minnesota soon rebounded with a shot of their own that was blocked by keeper Brad Stuver.
This may be Austin FC's most popular lineup— even the crankiest fans are commending the strong starting XI on Twitter. Tonight's starters are the same as in their win against Salt Lake.
New standouts Moussa Djitte and Sebastian Driussi are in alongside double-scorer Cecilio Dominguez up front, while fan favorite Diego Fagundez, Captain Alex Ring and Designated Player Tomas Pochettino take the midfield.
With Matt Besler still out on concussion protocol, Zan Kolmanic, Jhohan Romana and Julio Cascante take the back along with Hector Jimenez, who is in for right back Nick Lima. As (almost) always, Brad Stuver holds it down in goal.
- All brakes, no gas: Austin FC plummets to bottom of the West in 3-0 ... ›
- Austin FC takes home first win at Q2 with 4-1 victory - austonia ›
- Third time not quite the charm for Austin FC in 2-1 loss to LAFC ... ›
- Despite a comeback attempt, Austin FC falls to rivals FC Dallas in 5 ... ›
- Austin FC's Q2 Stadium is the biggest party in Austin - austonia ›
An Austin-based program manager for Apple Maps and one of two leaders for the #AppleToo activist movement said she has been fired after a suspension.
According to the New York Times, Janneke Parrish said she was put on suspension for several days while the company investigated her activities before she was fired by a human resources employee via phone call on Thursday.
Parrish was under investigation for allegedly leaking a recording of an Apple staff meeting to the media, which she said she didn't do.
The report said the company told Parrish, who is 30, that she was being fired for having deleted files off her company-issued phone and computer before handing them in for examination. Parrish said the files she deleted contained her personal and financial information.
Among the files she deleted were the Robinhood app, which she said was to keep Apple from seeing "how much money I lost investing in GameStop," the Pokemon Go app and screenshots of programming bugs she was fixing.
Parrish said she believes Apple was retaliating against her efforts in organizing #AppleToo, a group of employees working to expose the company's "culture of secrecy" that has been "faced disproportionately by our Black, Indigenous, and other colleagues from minoritized racial, gender and historically marginalized groups of people."
Parrish had been publishing weekly accounts of workplace problems that had been shared anonymously with her from other employees, though she did not verify employment on all of them. The accounts she received were in the hundreds, so Parrish said she was hopeful her termination would lead to some justice within the company.
Employees at tech giants have been more outspoken than usual in recent months—with former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen speaking out against her former employer—and Parrish said the company's desire to keep under wraps has eroded trust by discouraging employees to come forward with issues like harassment or wage disparity.
Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock commented on the matter: "We are and have always been deeply committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace. We take all concerns seriously and we thoroughly investigate whenever a concern is raised and, out of respect for the privacy of any individuals involved, we do not discuss specific employee matters."
Additionally, the email detailing her termination, which was obtained by the New York Times, said Apple had determined that Parrish "engaged in conduct in violation of Apple policies including, but not limited to, interfering with an investigation by deleting files on your company provided equipment after being specifically instructed not to do so."
- Thousands of Austin's tech workers will soon be back in the office ›
- The Oprah Conversation has Emmanuel Acho's 'uncomfortable ... ›
- Apple shipping iphones from Austin domain northside store - austonia ›
- See Austin's new Apple campus under construction - austonia ›