Last week, data and analytics firm Unacast launched a social distancing scoreboard using public datasets as well as data from tens of millions of devices. The company, which is based in New York and Oslo, collects cell phone location data and sells its analysis to various industries. (The Washington Post called it "part of a shadowy world of location tracking.")
According to its analysis, Travis County has decreased average mobility—based on distance traveled—by between 55% and 70% and has decreased nonessential visits by more than 70%. As a result, on March 28 the company graded Travis County's response to the pandemic as an A-, second in the state only to Cameron County, and a higher score than Texas' overall C.
However, according to a March 26 pandemic modeling report from researchers at The University of Texas-Austin, nonhousehold contact needs to be reduced by 90% to "flatten the curve"—meaning the rate at which coronavirus cases hit their peak—enough to avoid overwhelming hospitals in Travis, Williamson, Bastrop, Caldwell and Hays counties.
We still don't know to what extent local policies have limited the spread of this pandemic, and the city declined to provide an estimate on Thursday.
The UT report estimates that if schools remain closed and nonhousehold interactions are reduced by 50%, the Austin-Round Rock metro will see more than 1.56 million coronavirus cases—meaning 70% of its total population will contract COVID-19—and 6,317 deaths by Aug. 17 as hospitalizations and ventilator demands far outpace supply.
In contrast, continued school closures coupled with a reduction in nonhousehold interactions by 90% will lead to less than one-tenth the number of total cases—132,415, per the report—and a total death toll of 267 for the metro.
"The real take-home message is that it's going to take the whole community effort to really slow this spread and really prevent our community from having a crisis in health care," said Dr. Lauren Ancel Meyers, a professor of integrative biology, statistics and data sciences who led the team of researchers, at a March 26 virtual press conference.
The University of Texas-Austin continued its march toward a new normal on Friday, as university President Gregory Fenves marked his last day of leadership after five years in office—the final two months of it dominated by sweeping pandemic-era changes on campus.
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Protests over police killings planned for Austin this weekend following widespread demonstrations across U.S.
At least two protests are planned in Austin this weekend over the recent killings of black men by police: Mike Ramos, who was fatally shot by an Austin Police Department officer on April 24 in Southeast Austin, and George Floyd, who died in police custody on Monday after a Minneapolis Police Department officer knelt on his neck. Both events were filmed.
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As Texas navigates reopening restaurants and bars safely, al fresco spots provide the perfect place for long-quarantined Austin residents. Some of these favorites are open only on the patio, others are allowing customers to eat to-go orders in the space, and a few are full service—the details are subject to change. This is not an all-inclusive list, but here they are, in no particular order:
Upscale seafood fare is served under striped umbrellas on the tree-lined porch, with dogs allowed and an unfettered view of South Congress foot traffic.
Address: 1400 S. Congress Ave.
- Reopening today: the zoo (masks required), water parks (advanced tickets required), driver's license offices (appointments required).
- As protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis spread to cities around the county, a demonstration drawing attention to both Floyd and Mike Ramos is planned for Austin this weekend.
- With local businesses concerned they can't make a profit at limited capacity, the city council may soon allow the use of sidewalks and parking lots to increase it, CBS Austin reports.
- KUT notes that, ultimately, it's up to voters to decide who votes by mail.
- Aaron Franklin will be inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame, writes Daniel Vaughn at Texas Monthly, just as his restaurant faces its biggest challenge yet.
'This has dwarfed anything else we've seen': Nonprofits adapt to soaring need, fewer volunteers and a fundraising slump
Since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Austin, the Central Texas Food Bank has seen a tenfold increase in food costs.
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