Those who qualify for vaccination—healthcare workers, first responders, people 65 years of age or older and those with a preexisting medical condition—make up more than half of the Travis County population, an Austonia analysis determined.
But vaccinating more than 500,000 people hasn't been easy. Two months into the COVID-19 rollout, most Austinites in groups 1A and 1B remain stuck on waitlists and frustrated by the lack of clarity. The reason for this is simple: there are way fewer vaccines available than the number of people eligible to receive them.
Area providers have only received 119,025 initial doses through this week, or enough to vaccinate around 23% of eligible residents. This leaves three in four members of groups 1A and 1B in limbo, waiting on future allocations of the vaccine to arrive.
Here's how the numbers break down:
There are an estimated 1,016,909 Travis County residents who are 16 years of age and older, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Pfizer vaccine received an emergency use authorization from the FDA for its COVID vaccine in people 16 years of age and older, the Moderna one for people who are at least 18 years old.
DSHS estimates that, within the county population, 80,894 people fall into the 1A group and 468,769 fall into the 1B group.
Travis County has received, on average, 14,487.5 initial doses of the COVID vaccine from DSHS each week for the last seven weeks. At this rate, it will take another 40 weeks—or around 10 months—to vaccinate everyone in the 1A and 1B groups.
However, there are some reasons to believe this process will move more quickly.
Local, state and federal public health officials expect the FDA to issue emergency use authorizations for two more COVID-19 vaccines—from the pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson—by March, which would increase the supply available for distribution.
And although we're a long way off from achieving the 70% to 75% threshold needed for herd immunity with just 8% of the county population vaccinated, we may start to see outsized benefits by focusing on the most vulnerable populations.
"As we gain herd immunity within those age groups, we start to see the threat of overwhelming our healthcare system dissipate very quickly," Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said last week.
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East Austin restaurant la Barbecue has been robbed a third time in less than three months, according to a post on the restaurant's Instagram.
In the post, the restaurant included photos of what appeared to be a man exiting a minivan from surveillance footage.
"This guy pulled up in a car full of stuff… he ripped our gate open and stole a couple empty kegs," the post said. "The ring system scared him off so he did not venture back into the area. PLEASE EVERYONE ON THE EAST SIDE BE CAREFUL!!! This guy goes back into his car to grab something before he goes in. I am hoping he won’t be back!!"
The robbery comes as many restaurant and food truck owners have been on guard from recent break-ins. East Austin cheesesteak truck R&B's Steak and Fries has also been robbed three times in around three months, according to owner Kris Elliott. Elliot said the truck was last robbed around a month and a half ago.
"When the weather gets cold, it seems like these things start to happen more often," Elliott said. "We're just happy no one got hurt."
Additionally, he said all 5 of the food trucks in their lot have experienced burglaries. The landlord of the space is taking action by investing in alarm and camera systems. "Been very tough dealing with this problem as us small business owners are just trying to survive during the pandemic," Elliott said.
And it's not just in East Austin. North Austin restaurants Eldorado Cafe and Chez Zee Bistro were both broken into and robbed on the weekend of Jan. 8, while over a dozen food truck robberies and break-ins were reported in the latter half of 2021.
Some, like Chez Zee's Deborah Velasco, wonder if the understaffed Austin Police Department's decision to no longer respond to non-emergency calls is part of the problem. Xose Velasco, owner of East Austin's Discada, said owners are keeping their guard up in the wake of the robberies as he was robbed twice within a month of reopening in November 2021.
"We try to keep the lights on," Velasco said. "We're a little bit more careful."
After 12 months, the long-anticipated massive Tesla factory in Southeast Travis County is up and operating and everyone wants a look inside.
Phase 1 of Giga Texas appears to be tied up as production of the Model Y Tesla is underway, the electric car company revealed on Wednesday in its fourth-quarter earnings call. The factory, located on the former Harold Green-turned Tesla Road, sits on more than 2,000 acres of land in southeast Travis County.
Here's a glimpse inside the factory.
Model Ys will be the first Teslas to come out of Giga Texas with an estimated delivery of August. The wait estimate comes after Tesla noted supply chain issues have affected their factories, which have been running below capacity for several quarters. A deep blue metallic like this goes for $1,000 more than a white or silver Model Y, totaling $61,990.
Model Ys began being produced at Giga Texas at the end of 2020. In general assembly at the factory, the Teslas get their major interior components to finish the vehicle.
Workers at Austin's Gigafactory are attaching seats to a structural battery pack. It's been described by some as the biggest difference between Texas-made Model Y's and the current version at the Fremont, California factory. It shouldn't have a major impact on the owner's experience, but Tesla has updated instructions for the jacking procedure, as the lift points are different.
With a sleek, open office setup, workers can take in a view of the factory from their seats. It's a component CEO Elon Musk wanted for what is now the headquarters of Tesla.
On the Austin, Texas public location Snapchat, a photo of inside Giga Texas has appeared. On the left you can see a sneak peek of a Model Y body.pic.twitter.com/N7zliZ5vkL— Sawyer Merritt (@Sawyer Merritt) 1643081462
With Snapchat's maps, anyone can look at everyday activity happening at the factory. To view these geographically-linked stories, click the bottom left "map" icon and search "Tesla Giga Texas." Once you've found it, you can view the Snapchat story of those in and around the facility. While most stories stay up for only 24 hours, Giga Texas is a designated place on Snapchat, allowing users to view a collection of photos and videos from the inside.
Following Model Ys, Texas-made Teslas will include the Cybertruck, Semi and Model 3. But it might be a while before those other models arrive. EV makers have been hit hard by the chip shortage, and it's thought that changing features are contributing to Cybertruck delays as Tesla works to compete in the electric pickup market.
Joe Rogan paid a visit to buddy Elon Musk this week. The two have been seen around town since both moving to Texas. Naturally, Rogan was impressed with the prototype.
If you're dying to get a closer look at this factory, you just might get to. In December, Musk said the factory would have tours available to the community early this year.
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