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Austin public health officials expressed concern about the death of COVID-19 vaccines seven weeks into the national rollout. They also confirmed a slight downturn in the number of confirmed COVID cases and related hospital admissions following the massive surge that emerged around the holiday season.
A vaccine update
Since being designated a hub provider for Travis County earlier this month, Austin Public Health has received three weekly allotments of 12,000 doses. Local public health officials said Tuesday that they expect to receive another 12,000 doses next week as well. However, APH Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard continued to ask residents to manage their expectations, adding that the department wouldn't know for sure what their next shipment will be until later this week.
If APH receives additional doses, they will administer them Wednesday through Sunday of next week, continuing to prioritize frontline workers and residents 65 years of age and older.
At this stage of the rollout, vaccine supply remains extremely limited, with only 2% of the Travis County population receiving shots, Hayden-Howard said. This is far cry from the 70% to 75% threshold needed to achieve herd immunity.
Of the 333,650 vaccines allocated by the state last week, Travis County received 4.4%. Travis County has administered 65,050 of the vaccine so far, according the State Health Department.
Although these numbers may be proportional to the doses received elsewhere in the state, Texas remains at the end of the line when receiving the doses. Anaylis last week found that Texas was close to last in how many vaccines it was getting per capita.
Travis County officials said they are doing what they can to get the most people vaccinated as soon as possible, despite this shortage. APH is working with outside consultants to find areas for mass vaccinations, including drive-through options and implementing at-home vaccines for seniors, for whom APH is putting together a call center, Hayden-Howard said.
COVID on the decline
Despite the significant challenges with vaccine availability, there is some good news.
The daily average numbers of confirmed COVID cases and related hospital admissions are both on the decline after flattening last week. The average number of cases confirmed each day is 577, down from 680 last week, and the average number of related hospital admissions each day is 81, down from 87.8 last week.
"All the measures this week showed significant improvements in our COVID-19 situation in Travis County," Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said.
Travis County remains squarely in Stage 5, the highest according to APH's risk-based guidelines, but for the first time since late December the trend line is clearly moving down from the peak.
City of Austin
Another positive sign arrived yesterday from hospitals in Trauma Service O, an 11-county region that includes the Austin area, Escott said. COVID patients now account for fewer than 15% of hospitalizations in the area, which is the threshold the state has set as an indicator of surge. TSA O now has a lower rate of COVID hospitalizations than the trauma services areas for every other major metro city in Texas. Those that include Houston, El Paso, Dallas-Forth Worth and San Antonio are all reporting that at least 18% of their hospitalizations are due to COVID.
Dr. Mark Escott attributed the long-awaited dip to people in Austin changing their behavior.
"We've got to continue that effort, we've got to push it down further," he said. "But we are doing an excellent job and, and I'm proud of this community for the work."
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Police have arrested one of two suspects involved in a mass shooting at Austin's Sixth Street in the early morning hours on Saturday, leaving 14 people injured and two in critical condition.
The arrest was made by the Austin Police Department and the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force. One suspect is still at large.
Police started receiving 911 phone calls at 1:24 a.m about a man that fired shots into a large crowd, and responded to a chaotic scene on the 400 block of East Sixth Street. Detectives are surveying video footage captured by bystanders and cameras on the scene to identify the suspect.
The Austin Police Department has narrowed down their search to two male suspects and believes there was "some type of disturbance" between the two parties.
No deaths have been reported. Fourteen victims are receiving treatment in a hospital in stable condition with one treated in an emergency room; two are in critical condition.
According to Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon, "almost all" of the victims are innocent bystanders but police have not ruled anyone out at this time.
Shooting on 6th Street Austin Texas 6-12-2021 (Aftermath) youtu.be
The shooting occurred on the weekend of the Republic of Texas Motorcycle Rally. With lots of people downtown, police say it was difficult to get EMS in and out of the scene. Police arrived while the scene was still an "active threat," officers "immediately began lifesaving measures" and drove six victims to the hospital in their squad cars, said Chacon, and four were transported in ambulances.
Chacon said that the incident is believed to be isolated, and they optimistic they will be successful in getting the two suspects into custody. Multiple departments, including APD, the FBI, Texas DPS and the ATF, are involved in the investigation.
Austin police are also requesting state troopers for patrol assistance in the coming days. Chacon stressed staffing issues are increasingly making responding to emergency calls "very hard."
"Overall, we remain a safe city," Chacon said. "Also keep in mind when you come downtown, you need to be safety conscious. Be vigilant of your environment and your surroundings."
Today marks the five-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in which 49 were killed and 53 wounded in Orlando, Florida. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call 911 or 512-472-TIPS.
This story was updated at 2:47 p.m. to include new information and will be updated as more details are revealed.
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Austin police are investigating a homicide in North Austin where a woman was shot and killed, just hours after a mass shooting in Downtown Austin hospitalized 14 people.
APD is working a suspicious death near the 1900 block of W Rundberg Ln. PIO is en route and will update with media staging location. PIO6
— Austin Police Department (@Austin_Police) June 12, 2021
Police originally responded to Ironhorse Flats Apartments, 1900 block of W. Rundberg Lane, at 3:20 p.m. when they found the woman with multiple gunshot wounds. She was transported to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 4:07 p.m.
No one is in custody as of yet but police are speaking with potential witnesses. Officials said they believe this was an isolated incident with no danger to the public but said possible relation to the downtown shooting has not been specifically ruled out.
Officers could not provide a suspect description and the relationship to the victim is still unknown.
This is a developing story that will be updated as details become available.
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