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Austin Mayor Steve Adler is requesting city require employees to get vaccinated. (Steve Adler/Twitter)

Facebook is the latest of several employers in Austin to begin requiring vaccinations for their employees.

The company, which announced the controversial shift Tuesday afternoon, joins Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White and the Department of Veterans Affairs in requiring that their employees be vaccinated. Other Austin businesses, including Waterloo Records and St. Edward's University, have begun requiring masks once again.

Just before Facebook's announcement, Mayor Steve Adler submitted a request to the city manager, which was later denied due to an executive order from the governor, for city of Austin employees to require proof of vaccination to continue work. He cited the rapid uptick in cases and hospitalizations as the reason for the request in a statement on Wednesday afternoon. Austin was labeled a high-risk area for COVID transmission on Tuesday, according to CDC data.

"With alarming increases in cases, ICU admissions and community positivity rates, we must do more," Adler said. "I urge Austin businesses also to require their employees to become vaccinated. We must all lead by our own example."

President Joe Biden recently said the current administration is considering a vaccine requirement for federal employees as well. "That's under consideration right now," Biden said. "But if you're not vaccinated, you're not nearly as smart as I thought you were."

While government-mandated "vaccine passports" were barred by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in April, employers can enforce vaccine requirements, with some exceptions.

In June, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit made by employees at Houston Methodist Hospital after they sued their employer for requiring vaccines. The move may open the floodgates on more mandates, Ryan Rivas, a partner at law firm Hall Booth Smith PC. told the Business Journals. "The Texas decision has been a lightning rod for everybody," Rivas said.

Austin has had less vaccine hesitancy than other Texas metros, with almost 63% of those eligible fully vaccinated. Still, Adler's request may get some pushback from city employees who aren't eager to get their jabs. Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday told KXAN in April that some city police officers were hesitant.

Adler's statement is the latest in his efforts to ramp up COVID-safe protocols, even with pushback from state officials. On the same day that the CDC recommended indoor masking for vaccinated individuals in high-risk areas, including Austin, and masking for schoolchildren in the fall, Abbott doubled down on his commitment to not implement another mask mandate.

This story was updated to include that Adler's request for proof of vaccination for city of Austin employees was denied due to an executive order from the governor.


Janice Omadeke of The Mentor Method was one of five Black entrepreneurs in Austin to earn $100k from Gogle for her startup. (The Mentor Method/Facebook)

Five Austin companies joined Google's second Startups Black Founders Fund on Wednesday, earning $100,000 each as part of the $10 million initiative geared toward giving Black entrepreneurs access to funding for their startups.

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The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission approved a draft district map Sept. 15 that looks much the same as the current map. (The Austin Bulldog)

A member of the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) contacted council members asking for their home addresses despite a charter provision prohibiting the ICRC from considering such information in its mapping process, according to emails obtained by the Bulldog through a public information request.

Four council members or their staffers replied providing home addresses: Alison Alter, Paige Ellis, Mackenzie Kelly, and Leslie Pool, according to the emails dated August 9th to Aug. 17.

Read the full story at The Austin Bulldog here.


Austinites will once again be able to take a nonstop flight to London as Austin-Bergstrom International Airport resumes transatlantic travel this fall.

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