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Schools should delay starting or offer virtual-only instruction until Sept. 8, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said Tuesday, to avoid loss of life due to the coronavirus.


Sept. 8 is three weeks later than the currently planned start date for Austin ISD.

The recommendation comes as Austin has seen soaring numbers of positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks.

"The schools need time, they need time to plan, they need time to orient their faculty and staff to the new realities," Escott said at a Travis County commissioners meeting.

Travis County had about 192,000 school-age children and thousands of teachers and administrative and support staff in 2019, according to Census data. Of those students, 80,000 are in Austin ISD.

"The risk of students having severe illness or death is relatively small compared to others," Escott said, adding that the risk of death is 0.18%, with Travis County's numbers looking closer to 0.3%-1.02%. "This is a little bit of a challenge of the numbers because you hear 0.18% and the translation is well, my child has a 99.8% chance of not dying from COVID-19."

However, Escott said the issue is that when those small numbers are taken and multiplied by the current student population, with an expectation that up to 70% of students could be infected, those small percentages turn into anywhere from 40-1,370 deaths.

"These are sobering numbers, and we have to be very, very careful when we hear people talking about the percentage of people," he said.

But with faculty and staff, the potential number of deaths is somewhere between two and 10 times higher, Escott said.

Looking beyond the potential loss of life, though, Escott said the spread of the disease will endanger continuity of education if a school has to shut down because too many students or staff members get sick.

"The practicality of social distancing in almost all of our schools is a challenge," Escott said, citing information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Education Agency as well as anecdotally, his own wife who is a schoolteacher. "Our schools are not designed to have desks six feet apart, most of our districts would have to triple the size of schools, triple the size of spaces in order to achieve that."

Right now, Escott said schools are simply not ready to handle the return of students and protect the safety of them and their staff.

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Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway