The excitement is building and tensions are rising as the University of Texas at Austin prepares for the first home game of its Texas Longhorns football team on Saturday—the largest gathering in Austin since the brink of the pandemic in March.
Game Week, the week leading up to the pre-season matchup against UT-El Paso—set for 7 p.m. Saturday at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium—was marked by peppy "can't wait for Saturday!" posts on social media and cautionary messages from those who fear it will create another COVID-19 spike in Austin.
"It's Game Week! #HookEm" the UT athletics department tweeted on Monday, in a post that was shared 275 times.
It's GAME WEEK! #HookEm🤘 https://t.co/CzbLQTUMKS— Texas Longhorns (@Texas Longhorns) 1599492602.0
On Wednesday, Austin Travis County Interim Health Authority Mark Escott asked students and fans to stay home and "avoid gatherings" after UT reported 100 cases as a result of three clusters of the coronavirus on West Campus.
"Let's watch football at home this year, and keep each other safe," he said.
Within 24 hours, UT Athletics posted: "2 more days, y'all!"
All your #MyTexas schedule needs, 1️⃣ location. 2 more days, y'all! 🤘 https://t.co/z86cgzdt4y https://t.co/mxMsIBICqt— Texas Longhorns (@Texas Longhorns) 1599764515.0
Longhorns will allow up to 18,000 fans to attend Saturday's game. Student attendees are required to get tested on Friday before being allowed in.
Some say that's not enough with Escott postulating that as many as 50 people could show up at the game with the virus and turn it into a super-spreader event.
😕 Texas is two deaths away from reaching a total of 14,000 people lost due to COVID-19. But yaknow, Texas football… https://t.co/ptKhUYgFbu— ty marsh (@ty marsh) 1599848269.0
The game comes at a time when university students are struggling with a new, limited, no-parties-allowed normal.
It also brings in much-needed revenue to universities and colleges that are struggling with layoffs, UT-Austin being no exception.
@JeffBarker_ He better wear a mask. 🙄— Barbara Wiggins (@Barbara Wiggins) 1599793601.0
- Austin's top doc: 'College football in the fall is going to be a stretch ... ›
- Longhorns fans will mask up at home games University of Texas ... ›
- Two Longhorns football players test positive for COVID-19 - austonia ›
- UT Longhorns season starts 9/26 vs. Texas Tech Raiders: Big 12 ... ›
- Texas Longhorns jump into AP’s top 10 after Saturday win - austonia ›
- Game preview: Longhorns travel to Lubbock in Big 12 opener - austonia ›
- Longhorns preview for Saturday's game against OU - austonia ›
- Longhorns band will not play "Eyes of Texas" at football game - austonia ›
- Game preview: Longhorns look to bounce back against Baylor - austonia ›
- Game preview: #22 Longhorns face West Virginia at home - austonia ›
- Game Preview: Longhorns face off against #13 Cyclones - austonia ›
- Game Preview: Longhorns face off against #13 Cyclones - austonia ›
- UT longhorns go against Kansas State in football - austonia ›
- Longhorns cancel Kansas game due to positive COVID-19 tests - austonia ›
- Steve Sarkisian officially announced as new head coach of Longhorns - austonia ›
- Steve Sarkisian officially announced as head coach of Longhorns - austonia ›
- Longhorns plan for 100% stadium capacity in 2021 season - austonia ›
- Longhorn Band will be required to play "The Eyes of Texas" next fall - austonia ›
- Texas, Oklahoma officially request a move to the SEC - austonia ›
- UT names Hudson Card as Longhorn Football starting quarterback - austonia ›
- Austinite Hudson Card confirmed for starting quarterback in Week 1 Texas football - austonia ›
- Constant change, lack of 'five-star culture' could be holding back 'rock-bottom' Texas football program - austonia ›
- Michael Center says others at university of texas were involved in Varsity Blues scandal - austonia ›
Austin parents and grocery store shelves are feeling the effects of a nationwide baby formula shortage.
Caused mostly by a February recall due to contamination issues, followed by the Abbott Nutrition factory closure in Michigan, the shortage has left Austin shelves barren. However, earlier this week, U.S. officials announced a plan with the facility to restart production.
In the meantime, local parents in crisis have turned toward the Mother’s Milk Bank to keep their babies fed.
HEB on East 7th has been picked clean of formula and is limiting purchases. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
The milk bank—which takes donations from lactating mothers and dispenses milk to babies in the NICU—has been helping feed upwards of 30 families in need as the formula supply tightens.
According to the bank’s executive director Kim Updegrove, Mother’s Milk Bank has seen an uptick in calls from parents with healthy babies in need of help since the shortage began.
“We aren't used to hearing from families with healthy infants,” Updegrove said. “They're typically very upset, angry, frustrated, sobbing—it's scary to not be able to feed your infants. So in the past few weeks, those calls have been significantly increasing.”
Mothers are only able to donate if they are within a year postpartum, so Updegrove said they are constantly bringing on and retiring donors. While donors had been on a 30% decline leftover from 2021 when the shortage began, Updegrove said the shortage has led to mass community interest and more than 90 prospective donors in just the past few days.
“We and other milk banks are experiencing significant interest from the community—becoming milk donors and helping to turn around this crisis,” Updegrove said. “Every infant needs to be fed, every one of us can relate to that need, and we need to make sure as a community that it happens.”
Whole Foods downtown was also cleaned out of typical formula. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
While you may still be able to find formula at places like Whole Foods—which currently has goat milk, soy and plant-based formula in stock—Updegrove said it might not be what a baby needs.
Updegrove said it is best to buy types that say “infant formula,” as they are FDA approved and will provide the nutrients, vitamins and minerals a baby needs. Plant-based, homemade, non-cow's milk or diluting formula may not provide the same nutritional value.
As the community navigates the shortage, Updegrove said the most important way to help out is to not panic buy or stockpile.
“This is a crisis for families,” Updegrove said. “This is the time for the community to gather together and figure out what everyone can do to help families with young infants.”
Next time you’re sitting at a red light in Austin, you may look over and see a car without a person at the driver’s wheel.
Autonomous vehicle tech company Argo AI has brought driverless operations to Austin and Miami, starting out with only company employees using the service. Later on, tests with Lyft and Walmart will carry out ride-sharing and grocery delivery services, with the help of a human safety operator. The company has already made moves on this front in Miami Beach where some Lyft passengers have used its autonomous vehicles with a human operator.
While its platform is designed for integration with multiple vehicle types, the test fleet uses the Ford Escape Hybrid and VW's all-electric ID.Buzz.
The Pittsburgh-based company says this progress on its autonomy platform has been more than five years in the making and boasted about reaching this milestone before others.
"Argo is first to go driverless in two major American cities, safely operating amongst heavy traffic, pedestrians and bicyclists in the busiest of neighborhoods," said Bryan Salesky, Founder and CEO of Argo AI.
Expect to see the autonomous cars on the road during daytime business hours as the tech aims to learn from a diversity of road infrastructure and driving behaviors.
The company, which is testing in eight cities in the U.S. and Europe, has brought its tech to Austin as the company looks to expand in densely-populated cities. In particular, Argo is looking at ridesharing, delivery and logistics companies for integrating its autonomous vehicles into their digital services.
Argo anticipates its service availability to someday cover more than 15 million people in Austin, Miami and Washington D.C.
- Elon Musk "The Boring Company" tunnel to be built in Austin ... ›
- Austin voters ask: How will Project Connect affect transit ridership ... ›
- Robots become part of everyday Austin life - austonia ›
- Tesla files plans to build batteries at Austin Gigafactory - austonia ›
- Tesla and Space X CEO Elon Musk is moving to Austin, Texas ... ›
- What would Austin's roads look like if they were built for growth ... ›
- The robots are driving: Argo AI gears up to bring driverless ... ›
- Take a ride in Ford's new electric vehicles in downtown Austin with ... ›
- Austin-based company displays upcoming 'flying car' - austonia ›