100% Austin news, info, and entertainment, straight to your inbox at 6 a.m. every morning.
In five minutes, you're fully informed and ready to start another great day in our city.
Austin Public Health plans to have its COVID-19 vaccine appointment scheduling system back up and running by Thursday evening after the department shut down the system late Monday due to technical issues.
Due to the delays, APH tweeted that it will likely need to add an additional day of appointment scheduling outside of its typical release schedule, with appointments dropping on Monday and Thursday evenings.
The technical issues emerged during the Monday evening release period, when APH had 6,000 appointments available for scheduling. "After working with our vendor for multiple hours, it appears there is no immediate fix we can make," the department tweeted. "Unfortunately this means we must end scheduling." As a result, only 2,300 appointments were scheduled at the time, according to a statement issued by the city.
APH provided an update on Tuesday, tweeting that it had identified the issue and was working with its vendor, Salesforce, to get the program up and running in time for the regularly scheduled Thursday release. However, due to the issues, APH does not know who was in the queue on Monday when the issues arose; the department is working to identify those individuals to schedule appointments, a spokesperson told Austonia.
Remaining appointment slots for Friday and Saturday are still scheduled to be released Thursday evening.
After working with our vendor throughout the day, we have identified the issue that occurred during scheduling last night that came from a new program code. We will continue to test the system to have a successful first dose appointment release on Thurs. evening (3/18)
— Austin Public Health (@AusPublicHealth) March 16, 2021
APH's scheduling system has been mired by technical glitches since its debut in mid-January. City staff have worked with the Salesforce team to work on improvements, including a new queuing system, but users continue to report issues—and frustration— with the rollout.
It's embarrassing that in a tech city like this you didn't partner with a firm who could have helped roll this out better.
— parchment (@halfstreet) March 16, 2021
Tara Morales commented on a recent APH Facebook update about her experience. "I've been helping my entire family through the process and feel awful that I sent them the rundown for them only to waste their time," she wrote late Tuesday evening. "I'm getting really tired of spending ALL EVENING Mondays and Thursdays to be so disappointed."
She wasn't alone. "And everyone that waited 6 hours in line only to be booted has to go to the back of the line and try again?!" Brandon Bosserman commented. "Talk about a massive fail. Your should be ashamed. Everyone done it better."
Others wrote that they had had better experiences with local providers such as the University of Texas at Austin, Williamson County and CVS.
"After 3 times waiting hours on APH site and getting no where I went on UT site Monday morning, scheduled appointments for Tuesday afternoon," Chris Thompson commented. "An hour plus to wander through the cue, second dose scheduled at the same time."
In addition to the tech issues, APH continues to face demand that far outstrips its supply of available vaccine doses. Since being designated a hub provider by the state in January, the department has received 12,000 initial doses each week. More than 200,000 people are registered on APH's waitlist who qualify for a vaccine under groups 1A and 1B or as an educator—and are still waiting for an appointment, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott told Austonia on Saturday.
State officials also recently expanded eligibility to include residents ages 50 to 64 under group 1C, which APH estimates will add an additional 200,000 or so people on its waitlist to the priority population. "There's not enough vaccine to go around right at the moment," he said.
Although APH did not make appointments available to those in group 1C on Monday, the department is working to make modifications to its scheduling system to allow it to prioritize registrants in that category, according to a statement issued Saturday.
Read more on APH glitches here:
- Austin healthcare offering COVID-19 vaccine waitlists - austonia ›
- Everything we know about Austin's COVID vaccine rollout - austonia ›
- Austin Public Health debuts COVID vaccine sign-up list - austonia ›
With more research done on the COVID-19 Delta variant, Austin Public Health is upping its goal of 70% vaccinated to at least 80% due to the extreme virality of the strain.
As more Delta cases are identified—up to 29 cases are confirmed in Travis County—health officials are urging the unvaccinated to get their shots to contain the spread and relieve hospitals from reaching full capacity.
Austin-Travis County surpassed the Stage 5 threshold on Friday and has reached a seven-day average of 61 hospital admissions. However, Austin health leaders have yet to make an official shift as the Delta variant calls for new guidance, APH Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said at a joint Travis County Commissioners Court meeting on Tuesday morning.
The new guidance has yet to be released, but Walkes said it will take into account the viral load of Delta on both unvaccinated and vaccinated people.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed the Delta variant was as contagious as chickenpox, which has a herd immunity threshold of at least 90% vaccinated.
Although 63.42% of those eligible in Travis County are fully vaccinated, breakthrough cases—where vaccinated people are contracting COVID-19—are being identified. APH has identified 1,496 breakthrough cases of the roughly 800,000 vaccinated. Most breakthrough cases are showing less severe symptoms or are asymptomatic, according to APH.
Health officials are still asking residents to wear masks, although the city cannot mandate any masking orders due to an executive order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
"Our challenge is going to be whether we're going to stand as a community and everyone who can get vaccinated, get vaccinated, and everyone wear a mask—that's what it's going to take," Walkes said.
- Most patients hospitalized for COVID-19 are unvaccinated - austonia ›
- Unvaccinated Austinites at risk of Delta variant with hospitals seeing ... ›
- UT warn of full-capacity ICUs, up to 11,000 more hospitalizations ... ›
- COVID hospitalizations reach Stage 4 threshold - austonia ›
- Delta variant, unvaccinated fuel rise of Austin COVID cases - austonia ›
Save Austin Now police petition will reach November ballot after county clerk certifies 25,000 signatures
Save Austin Now is now 2-0 over Austin City Council after its petition to add more staffed police officers to the Austin Police Department was certified, garnering over the 20,000 votes needed to make it on an election ballot.
The petition calls for more police staffing per city resident, quicker response times and more training for city police officers in the wake of increasing violent crime rates nationwide and a year of limited APD staffing. The City Council will now decide whether to implement the ordinance outright or add it to the November election ballot; it will likely do the latter.
Over 25,000 of the 27,778 signatures racked up by the public safety petition were certified as valid, well over the 20,000-vote threshold required to be certified with the City Clerk. City Clerk Jannette Goodall placed the city's seal of approval on the petition on Tuesday morning.
The petition, by the same political group that got the camping ban reinstated through a petition in May, seeks to:
- Require minimum staffing of two officers per 1,000 residents
- Require a minimum standard of 35% community response time
- Add 40 hours of training
- Require city council members, Mayor Steve Adler and other city staff to enroll in the Citizens Police Academy
- Facilitate minority officer hiring through foreign language proficiency metrics
Austin's 160 patrol vacancies have dropped its staffing rate to 1.2 officers per 1,000 residents, according to the department. APD's response time has increased by about one minute and 50 seconds in a year.
The petition comes nearly a year after APD's budgets were slashed by city council following the summer's Black Lives Matter protests, which saw several demonstrators severely injured as millions called for justice in the police-related deaths of George Floyd and locally Mike Ramos, an unarmed Black man killed by APD officer Christopher Taylor, in April 2020.
Austin and the U.S. have experienced a widespread uptick in violent crime rates in 2021. The city has reached 49 homicides in 2021, higher than the total number of murders in all of 2020 and the 38 homicides in the city in 2019. Austin police officers have seen response times rise as the department suffers increased vacancies and fewer newcomers while cadet classes are being readjusted.
Opponents argue the ordinance would ramp up a policing budget while taking away from other departments including Fire, EMS, violence prevention, and mental health care. City Council Member Greg Casar, the Travis County Democratic Party and the Austin Justice Coalition have spoken out against the organization's latest public safety move, calling out the campaign as a "right-wing petition" that misleads those who sign.
🔥 PANTS ON FIRE: Republican-front group Save Austin Now is lying about their petition!
They say their measure is about police reform, when it's really about devastating our city budget - all for the benefit of the police union. Watch the video here ⬇️ #ATX pic.twitter.com/Z6QQSfhHfH
— Gregorio Casar (@GregCasar) August 2, 2021
The latest battle between city council and Save Austin Now will be decided by Austin residents in the Nov. 2 election.
- Austin City Council drags on homeless camping ban reinstatement ... ›
- Conservative Jennifer Virden announces run for Austin mayor ... ›
- No homeless public camping vote on November ballot for Austin ... ›
- Save Austin Now sues city of Austin over camping ban petition ... ›
- City files response to Save Austin Now lawsuit - austonia ›
- Save Austin Now tries again to reinstate camping ban - austonia ›
- Save Austin Now calls on attorney in fight over Austin no-camping ... ›
- Save Austin Now relaunches petition to reinstate camping ban ... ›
- Save Austin Now submits police staffing petition - austonia ›
- Save Austin Now launches petition against crime - austonia ›
Austin City Limits fest and iHeartRadio Fest are the latest festivals to announce the removal of rapper DaBaby, who has come under fire for homophobic comments made during a recent festival.
The 29-year-old rapper, whose real name is Jonathan Lyndale Kirk, was dropped by Lollapalooza just hours before his set on Sunday, followed by the Governor's Ball in New York and Nevada's Day N Vegas after making unsolicited comments about men with HIV/AIDS at the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami. Rolling Stone Magazine confirmed with iHeartRadio organizers that DaBaby will no longer perform.
DaBaby will no longer be performing at Austin City Limits Music Festival — lineup update coming soon. pic.twitter.com/jAYfdJFxJf
— ACL Festival (@aclfestival) August 3, 2021
There is no word on who he will be replaced with yet, though rumors on ACL's subreddit, r/aclfestival, are saying they expect Tyler, The Creator, who performed at Lollapalooza. Kirk will be replaced at Day N Vegas by rapper Roddy Ricch.
Kirk later backtracked his offensive statements on his Instagram story, but again faced criticism for not exactly apologizing.
After facing a second round of backlash for his Instagram statements, the rapper posted on Instagram, saying:
In addition to being dropped from the festivals, DaBaby has been denounced by fellow celebrities like Dua Lipa, Madonna and Elton John.
- Bad vibes: Austin fears for fate of ACL—official word: 'too early to tell ... ›
- ACL brings a piece of normalcy back with iconic flags pitched in ... ›
- Some Austinites want ACL Festival out of Zilker Park - austonia ›
- Austin is back! ACL says in-person 2021 Zilker live music festival ›
- ACL 2021 lineup features Miley Cyrus, Black Pumas and more ... ›