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Waving a crucifix from her car window, a rabid Trump supporter drove between the Biden celebration crowd and the Trump protest crowd in downtown Austin on Saturday, as captured on video by Austonia.
The driver shouted at the crowd of celebrating supporters of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
"The future of this country is at stake," she said, while her passenger waved a Trump flag from the window.
In a nationwide trend, the crucifix has become a symbol for some of Trump's most loyal supporters, who believe the president's assertions that the election was unfair. They believe he is being "persecuted," on a level that they compare to the persecution and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The crucifix is among Christianity's most sacred icons, representing suffering and self-sacrifice for the greater good.
Nearly half of Travis County residents 16 and older are fully vaccinated, as of Friday afternoon, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. And an even greater portion likely have immunity.
Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott estimates that around 70% of local residents have some form of immunity to COVID-19, either because they have recovered from the disease or are vaccinated. This is approaching the threshold for herd immunity.
"We're starting to approach that 70% mark of combined disease and vaccination, so we may start to see some significant changes when it comes to disease trends," he told council members and county commissioners on Tuesday.
Escott arrived at this percentage by assuming that there is no overlap between those who have had COVID and those who have been vaccinated. "While there's certainly some overlap … there does not seem to be a lot of overlap between those two," he said.
Herd immunity occurs when enough people are immune to a disease that it is unlikely for someone who contracts the disease to spread it. With no one to infect, the disease dies out.
Public health experts have said herd immunity for COVID will require around 80% of the population to be immune based on its relative infectiousness.
Although natural immunity contributes to herd immunity and is partially responsible for the sharp downturn in the number of new COVID infections in recent months, vaccination is the gold standard among experts because of the increased security it offers.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler celebrated the new CDC guidance as proof of vaccines' efficacy. "Since more people will not be wearing masks, it makes it even more important to get vaccinated," he said in a statement Friday.
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As a lifelong Texan and 18-year Austin resident, street artist Goodluck Buddha wants to keep Californians out of Central Texas to preserve the city he loves.
As his business travels took him to states like California, he started posting his art there with a message to Californians in 2013. Buddha has many characters he creates but one, in particular, was created to draw attention to what he saw as a growing problem. Spotted all over Los Angeles is a skeletal monk holding a sign that says one of the following: "get out while you can," "total system failure" and most polarizing, "Austin, TX is at capacity, don't move there."
Buddha started developing his persona as an artist around 2013, keeping his art under wraps for the sake of his family and day job in the security industry. He asked his real name not be used on account of the work's potentially illegal nature. He had always admired street art and saw it as a way to interact with the community.
His disdain for the California migration started as a trendy joke but as the trickle of transplants turned more into a steady stream in the early 2010s, it started to seem like each new person he met was coming from Los Angeles or Beverly Hills.
"Austin started becoming a little popular with the California folks and everybody started moving here slowly and then it became kind of a problem," Buddha said.
The problem is not Californians, Buddha said, but the amount of money they come with, which he believes is driving up the cost of living and making it harder for the average Austinite to afford living here.
"I wanted to go straight to the source and put it out there for them to see that there's an issue—I don't know if they see it that way," Buddha said. "There's a lot of people that were able to make it with one full-time job and live in a nice house and now they're having to work a full-time job and a side hustle and then a side gig. It's making people more focused on trying to make money versus just living and having a good time."
Buddha can relate—while he would like to take his art career full-time, he is also a father and waiting until his children leave home to take a risk like that. He said he remembers a time when local artists could make a living doing what they loved while Austin nurtured them and wore the title "Live Music Capital of the World" like a badge of honor.
His art has since made its way to other big cities that he also goes to for business travels, including Portland and New York. And until he goes full time, he sells his art on social media.
"I always had this urge just to leave my mark and put stuff up," Buddha said. "It's kind of like a renegade art movement."
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