Instead of door-to-door trick-or-treating this Halloween, local health leaders are recommending that Austin residents start new traditions. For example, coronavirus-themed piñatas are proving very popular in 2020.
"What new traditions can you create this weekend?" Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden asked Wednesday morning while showing off her new piñata.
Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said he also intends to substitute trick-or-treating this year with a Halloween-themed piñata.
"I'm a little jealous of your COVID-19 piñata," Escott told Hayden.
But many Austin residents are experiencing pandemic fatigue, APH Chief Epidemiologist Janet Pichette acknowledged. For those people determined to party this Halloween, Pichette recommended social distancing—and, indirectly, a mask-themed costume.
"While I don't have a piñata, I do have a mask, so do wear your mask while you're out and about," Pichette said.
Despite COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations remaining relatively steady at the local level, Austin Public Health officials worry that exposure during Halloween celebrations could put the city on a dangerous trajectory. Statewide spread has already prompted health experts to predict that COVID-19 cases are likely to grow in Austin.
"This is a call to action for Austin and Travis County," Hayden said. "This can be avoided. We can come together as a community."
Health officials reiterated their same concerns as last week that case spread from Halloween activity could make for a bleak holiday season the rest of the year. Fortunately, local hospitals aren't overwhelmed right now, and there is backup support, if needed.
"We are lucky that our hospital systems have affiliated hospitals throughout Texas and, in some cases across the country, so they do have the ability to surge personnel from other jurisdictions," Escott said. "But we can't all surge at the same time across our major metropolitan cities in Texas."
More on COVID and the holidays:
- 6 activities that'll remind you it's fall in Austin all month long - austonia ›
- Haunted bars, former brothels, in Austin, Texas - austonia ›
- Hope to enjoy Thanksgiving? Then skip Halloween in Austin ... ›
- Austin parents are reimagining Halloween safely amid COVID-19 - austonia ›
- How risky are your holiday plans this year? - austonia ›
So you want to buy a house?
To anyone trying to get on the "housing ladder," it's been a discouraging couple of years as prices skyrocketed in a market crowded with buyers bidding against each other for just about any available home.
Things may be calming down, with the Austin Board of REALTORS reporting fewer sales and more available homes this summer.
Mortgage rates have more than doubled in the last year, from around 3% to well over 6% on a 30-year fixed rate loan, getting even more of a bump this week after the Federal Reserve raised bank rates on Wednesday.
So how affordable are homes right now? That, of course, depends on what you want and how much you're able or willing to pay, but here are some rough estimates of what a typical buyer would pay to buy a $650,000 home, which would be considered "mid-price" in today's market.
Mortgage banker Chris Holland (NMLS 211033) of Austin's Sente Mortgage ran some numbers for Austonia to illustrate a typical purchase.
Holland says that while the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is often mentioned in the media, the most popular loan that he's seeing now is a 7/1 adjustable rate mortgage, which has a fixed rate for 7 years and then adjusts every year based on market rates, with a limit on how much it can increase each year. The interest is amortized over a 30-year period. Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) offer lower rates than fixed rate loans.
Here are the numbers, which are examples. In practice, exact numbers vary with a buyer's credit rating and overall financial situation, and with the rate, which can move up or down at any time.
- $650,000 home purchase price
- 7/1 ARM at 5.875%
- 5% down payment, equals $32,500
- 95% financed, equals $617,500
- $4,990 payment, including principle and interest (P&I), insurance, and property tax
- Typically, a borrower's debt to income ratio needs to be at or below 45%. So for this mortgage, a borrower, or borrowers, would need income of roughly $11,100/month, or $133,200/year. That number could be higher, depending on the buyer's outstanding credit balances on things like credit cards and car loans.
Holland says he's had a lot of clients approved for loans who were house hunting but have put that on hold, hoping prices come down.
Camp Fimfo Waco, a brand new camping resort, is kicking off football and fall camping season in style! With top-notch amenities, premium accommodations, and 10 weekends of fall fun, there’s no better place to have a fall camping getaway, especially if you’re a Baylor football fan!
Fall promises to be a one-of-a-kind camping experience. From Sept. 16 to Nov. 24, weekends will be packed with fall-themed activities, including special Halloween weekends in October. Campers can enjoy activities like fall crafts, campground trick-or-treating, costume contests, site decorating, outdoor movie nights, and more!
Packages and Ways to Stay
Camp Fimfo Waco
Located just 5 miles from McLane Stadium, Camp Fimfo Waco is the perfect place to stay during home game weekends. Skip the stuffy hotel room and embrace the great outdoors before cheering on the Baylor Bears! Campers can purchase a Baylor Tailgating Package that includes a pre-game meal from Executive Chef Sean Kelley and transportation to and from the game! Chef Kelley will also be cooking up delicious, elevated tailgating meals near the stadium so make sure to check out The Plaid Plate food truck before the game.
Stay in style and comfort, no matter your camping preference! At Camp Fimfo Waco, there are multiple ways to stay. Red Carpet RV sites come with a concrete pad and patio, full hook-ups, cable hook-up, a charcoal grill, fire ring and fire pit. Back-in or pull-thru options are available, as well as coveted spots tucked along the Bosque River!
Don’t have an RV? Not a problem, Camp Fimfo Waco has cabins too! Book a Riverview Firewheel Cabin if you’re looking for an air-conditioned oasis for the whole family. Complete with a kitchen and private bathroom, this cabin can fit up to 10 people. Elevate your stay by adding on a golf cart or snag a private cabana by the pool for guaranteed shade. With wifi available throughout the park, you can stay connected during your stay!
Amenities and Activities
Camp Fimfo Waco
Camp Fimfo Waco features lots of amenities to fill your days with fun, whether you’re a kid or kid at heart. After challenging your friends to a game of pickleball, basketball, or mini golf, go for a dip in the resort-style, heated pool - open daily through October! Stay on the weekends through October to enjoy the interactive splash playground. With plenty of ways to burn off energy, like the jumping pillow or playground, you can be sure to end the day with a peaceful night around the campfire!
Right now, you can get the fourth night FREE when you book three nights with the promo code BONUS! Check out the Offers page for full details and more promo codes!