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It's not only 'the most wonderful time of year,' but its also the most risky time of year with COVID-19 meeting flu season. Here's what you need to know about your risk level during the holidays.
Like everything these days, almost all pre-COVID-19 traditions pose at least a small risk in contracting the virus. Since all states have handled the virus differently, gathering with people from out of state has potential to increase the risk.
Though celebrations are certainly going to look different this year, there are tools to help prep for the worst.
Risk can be determined through the number of people, where people are coming from and what their behaviors have been like in the two weeks before the event.
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology created a risk assessment tool to help determine the severity of a gathering based on the county it is in. The live tool shows risk per county, depending on how many people attend.
The risk of 50 people in a gathering are still pretty moderate in Travis County.
For instance, a 10-person gathering in Travis County has a 7% likelihood that one person would test positive afterwards but a 100-person gathering bumps the number up to 50%.
If you and yours are staying home for the holidays, the Texas Medical association ranked holiday activities by level of severity on a scale from one to 10. Anything in your home poses very low risk but the more contact it requires means the risk gets higher.
Attending Thanksgiving dinner with family members is a risk of three points, traveling by plane lands you at five points and attending a large indoor event poses the highest risk at 10 points.
The rankings on the list assume that all attendees are following COVID-19 guidelines and the chart reads "the more people, the closer together, the fewer masks, the more mingling indoors, the longer the time, the more singing and voice projection and the more alcohol—the greater the risk."
Official holiday guidelines can be found on the CDC's holiday guide.
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that Texas will opt out of further federal unemployment benefits related to the pandemic effective June 26, citing the number of current job openings and concern about potentially fraudulent unemployment claims. The benefits include a $300 weekly supplement.
"The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring communities across the state," Abbott said in a statement. "According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment jobs."
TWC listed 837,273 job openings as of Monday afternoon compared to 226,849 unemployment insurance claims filed statewide between March 31 and May 1. An estimated 1 million Texans were unemployed as of March, according to latest estimates released by the state agency.
Some local business owners, including Doc's Backyard Grill owner Charles Milligan, suspect unemployment benefits are deterring Austinites from returning to work. But others agree with economists who say multiple factors are at play, including health concerns and child care availability.
We're seeing lots of posts about how nobody wants to work right now. Just wanted to share our experience.
We received over 60 resumes for a taproom bartender position we posted last week. Every applicant we've set up an interview with has shown up.
People want 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥 work.
— Austin Beerworks (@AustinBeerworks) May 11, 2021
Abbott also cited fraudulent unemployment claims. Between March 2020 and April 2021, TWC received 4.48 million unemployment benefit applications, 611,000 or around 14% of which were tagged as suspicious. Most of those tagged were blocked before any benefits were paid out, according to an April 29 press release.
Federal law requires the effective date of such benefits change to be at least 30 days after the U.S. Department of Labor is notified.
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Is it just us, or is the current Austin mask situation confusing? Are we supposed to wear a mask or not, and where? And should we wear one anyway, even if not requested or required?
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