Austonia AM
×
becomeMemberIcon

become a member

(Austin Latino Coalition, Del Valle Community Coalition)

More than 1,700 families attended a PPE distribution event on Aug. 29 hosted by the Austin Latino Coalition and Del Valle Community Coalition.

Face coverings and hand sanitizers may not seem like the rare commodities they were back in the spring when many stores and online vendors had sold out of their stock. But for many Ausitnites, these resources remain out of reach.


"Now more than five months into the COVID-19 pandemic there is an assumption that everyone has access to [personal protective equipment], but the reality is that there are people in our community who have to make the tough choice of buying food versus buying a mask and hand sanitizer," said Paul Saldaña, coordinator of the Austin Latino Coalition.

The coalition co-hosted a PPE distribution event on Aug. 29 with the Del Valle Community Coalition. Volunteers distributed 15,00 disposable masks, 200 boxes of gloves, 5,000 reusable adult masks, 400 reusable children's masks and 500 bottles of hand sanitizers to 1,700 families. There was also voter registration and census stations set up.

"People were in line at Del Valle High School more than two hours before we began distribution," Saldaña said. "One elderly woman who was at the front of the line arrived at 5:30 a.m., with her oxygen tank. There are seniors, veterans, teachers, construction and grocery workers, among others, who are all in need."


Volunteers distributed thousands of masks at the most recent distribution event. (Austin Latino Coalition, Del Valle Community Coalition)


The Austin Latin Coalition began in 2013 and is organized by 30 volunteers. Private sector partnerships—with H-E-B, Lowe's and Tito's Vodka, among others—help fund its initiatives.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the coalition saw that the needs of the local Latino community were being inadequately addressed by local governments.

"Information about the virus was not easily accessible, and not culturally relevant and difficult to find in Spanish," Saldaña said. "With over 20 subcultures in our Latino community, the Spanish translation doesn't always resonate [with everyone]."

It also became clear that Latino Austinites were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Despite making up around a third of the Travis County population, they account for more than half of confirmed COVID cases and hospitalizations and nearly half—49%—of deaths.


Latino residents are overrepresented when it comes to COVID cases, hospitalizations and outcomes. (Austin Public Health)


Although the number of new confirmed daily cases has been on the decline in recent weeks, transmission remains most concentrated on the city's east side. The highest number of confirmed cases is found in the 78744 ZIP code, where a majority of residents are Latino.

Austin's confirmed COVID cases are more concentrated on its east side, with the highest number of cases in the 78744 ZIP code, where a majority of residents are Latino. (Rational Anarchy/Reddit)

"The southeastern ZIP codes and portions of Austin [and] Travis County continue to be among the communities with the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases and positivity rates," Del Valle Community Coalition President Susanna Woody said.

Saldaña has criticized elements of the city's response to the pandemic, arguing that they could do more to address disparate outcomes.

The city's health department provided and packaged PPE and other informational materials for the distribution event last weekend. On Wednesday it also announced it would co-host, along with CommUnity Care and Central Health, nine PPE distribution events this month in areas with high COVID positivity rates, such as Pflugerville and Dove Springs.

"It is important to [Austin Public Health] to ensure that the most vulnerable in our community are protected from COVID-19," a spokesperson said. "Additionally, we are continually re-evaluating our epidemiological data and burden of disease on our community to ensure that we are meeting the community's needs during this time."

However long the pandemic lasts, ALC and its partners plan to continue offering barrier-free testing, PPE and education resources to the Latino community.

"Many won't come to the local government coordinated testing sites out of fear for a variety of reasons, so we host these events where those in our community feel safe," Saldaña said. "While our focus is the Latino community, all are welcome to come."

The U.S. Hispanic Contractors Association of Austin, a member of the ALC, is hosting a free COVID testing event this Saturday at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Northeast Austin, near the Little Walnut Creek Greenbelt, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"This is about being a good citizen to our neighbors and fellow Austinites," Saldaña said.

Want to read more stories like this one? Start every day with a quick look at what's happening in Austin. Sign up for Austonia.com's free daily morning email.

Popular

Austonia file photo. (Christa McWhirter/Austonia)

Police have arrested one of two suspects involved in a mass shooting at Austin's Sixth Street in the early morning hours on Saturday, leaving 14 people injured and two in critical condition.

The arrest was made by the Austin Police Department and the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force. One suspect is still at large.

Police started receiving 911 phone calls at 1:24 a.m about a man that fired shots into a large crowd, and responded to a chaotic scene on the 400 block of East Sixth Street. Detectives are surveying video footage captured by bystanders and cameras on the scene to identify the suspect.

The Austin Police Department has narrowed down their search to two male suspects and believes there was "some type of disturbance" between the two parties.

No deaths have been reported. Fourteen victims are receiving treatment in a hospital in stable condition with one treated in an emergency room; two are in critical condition.

According to Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon, "almost all" of the victims are innocent bystanders but police have not ruled anyone out at this time.

Shooting on 6th Street Austin Texas 6-12-2021 (Aftermath) youtu.be


The shooting occurred on the weekend of the Republic of Texas Motorcycle Rally. With lots of people downtown, police say it was difficult to get EMS in and out of the scene. Police arrived while the scene was still an "active threat," officers "immediately began lifesaving measures" and drove six victims to the hospital in their squad cars, said Chacon, and four were transported in ambulances.

Chacon said that the incident is believed to be isolated, and they optimistic they will be successful in getting the two suspects into custody. Multiple departments, including APD, the FBI, Texas DPS and the ATF, are involved in the investigation.

Austin police are also requesting state troopers for patrol assistance in the coming days. Chacon stressed staffing issues are increasingly making responding to emergency calls "very hard."

"Overall, we remain a safe city," Chacon said. "Also keep in mind when you come downtown, you need to be safety conscious. Be vigilant of your environment and your surroundings."

Today marks the five-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in which 49 were killed and 53 wounded in Orlando, Florida. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call 911 or 512-472-TIPS.

This story was updated at 2:47 p.m. to include new information and will be updated as more details are revealed.

Austin police are investigating a homicide in North Austin where a woman was shot and killed, just hours after a mass shooting in Downtown Austin hospitalized 14 people.

Keep Reading Show less