Icy road conditions continue to worsen as Austin ventures further into the polar vortex.
Despite roads all over the city having been pretreated in preparation for the winter storm, city officials say the drizzly weather and below-freezing temperatures have coated roads in a thin layer of ice.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there have been 34 minor car wrecks due to ice so far on Sunday.
Franklin BBQ Valentine's Day report, ice storm edition: three car pile up this afternoon has brought the fire department to the scene. Detritus from the crash remains on the roads, which are presumed to be incredibly icy. Avoid the area fam pic.twitter.com/nnj8dsHnnP
— Johanna Gretschel (@jojo_shea) February 14, 2021
Austin-Travis County EMS is reporting ice on all road surfaces and only expects conditions to worsen as temperatures drop. Due to the volume of incidents and dangerous driving conditions, emergency services may be delayed.
DO NOT DRIVE. Please not only for your safety, but the safety of our first responders. If you do drive, remember to treat flashing lights as 4 way stops. https://t.co/gILdWCrn0I
— City of Austin (@austintexasgov) February 14, 2021
ATCEMS also reported that medics will only transport patients to the closest hospital due to severe weather and are using 4x4 and fire department vehicles to respond to 911 calls.
Affective immediately #ATCEMSMedics will only be transporting to the CLOSEST hospital. #ATCEMS has activated our 4x4 vehicles, as well as utilizing fire department vehicles to access patients on many 911 calls. Many roadways are impassable. #StayHomeStaySafe pic.twitter.com/TGbWRawQnP
— ATCEMS (@ATCEMS) February 14, 2021
Driving is not advised but if you must drive, you can check road conditions here.
While at home, officials are warning to be careful even when going outside, as ice can be hard to spot on sidewalks and pavement; conserve energy in case of power outages and be careful when heating your home, not using stoves or ovens that may cause carbon monoxide gas.
Austin is expected to receive snow showers on and off for the rest of Sunday, so bundle up.
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As Texas gets ready to lift the mandatory mask mandate on March 10, food and bar workers gathered at the Texas Capitol to express their frustration with the lack of COVID-19 precautions without adequate access to the COVID-19 vaccine.The event, which began at 1 p.m. on Monday, was hosted by the Austin chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, Restaurant Organizing Project and The Amplified Sound Coalition.
Christa McWhirter<p>Crystal Maher, a member of the Restaurant Organizing Project, stands in front of the Texas Capitol to express to other protesters in attendance how not being eligible for a vaccine has impacted her ability to safely keep her job. </p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Kiara Collins, Eric Santos and Taylor Escamilla are all essential workers who have been questioning their safety in their workplace. As many of the other protesters, the three wore masks with the word "Expendable" on it. According to Collins, they were only given to essential workers in attendance to represent how they have been treated since the onset of COVID-19.</p>
Christa McWhirter<p>As Maher continues to introduce speakers, two essential workers who came out to support the protest, record as counter-protesters heckled the event's speakers.</p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Some of the counter-protesters in attendance were live streamers from InfoWars, an extremist organization, who heckled speakers until the rally dispersed. </p>
Christa McWhirter<p>A representative of the Del Valle Community Coalition spoke about the impact the lack of vaccine access has had on the Del Valle area. As she attempted to give her speech, anti-masking protesters yelled at her causing many people to attempt to block them out.</p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Protesters blocked the way of anti-mask counter protesters as they heckled the event's speakers and held "My Body My Choice" signs. "It's kind of insane how they're using 'my body, my choice.' It doesn't only affect you. So it's not just your body," Taylor Escamilla said.</p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Jeanette Gregor, cofounder of Amplified Sound Coalition, also had to fend off counter-protesters as she gave an impassioned speech about the danger essential workers place themselves in by going to work and have yet to qualify for COVID-19 vaccine. </p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Around 2 p.m., State Troopers began to arrive at the Capitol amid heightening tensions from protesters and counter-protesters. As police presence began to increase, the event came to end about 15 minutes later. Despite the constant back and forth between sides and the arrival of law enforcement, the protest came to end peacefully.</p>
The world has changed drastically over the past year, and South by Southwest, one of Austin's most beloved institutions, has, too.
After being abruptly canceled by the city last year, one week before it was set to kick-off due to the increasing understanding of the potential impact of COVID-19, it returns this year in a virtual format March 16-20.
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Austin Public Health will release first dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments on a weekly basis starting Monday evening. The specific days and number of appointments made available will depend on the weekly allocation from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Previously, APH released first dose appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
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