Austin has less vaccine hesitancy than other Texas metros, but it might still be higher than you think
Over half of Travis County may be partially vaccinated, but a significant number are still showing hesitancy, according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fifteen percent of Travis County residents are hesitant, meaning in a survey they said they would probably not get a vaccine. Additionally, 7% answered they would definitely not get a vaccine, or are strongly hesitant.
In April Austonia reported that Austinites may opt out of a vaccine for a number of reasons, including political ideology, fear about possible long-term side effects and distrust of for-profit pharmaceutical companies.
Still, the number is slightly lower than in other Texas metros. An estimated 17% of the population in both Harris and Dallas counties are vaccine hesitant, while 16% are in Bexar and El Paso counties. The highest percentage of those vaccine hesitant was reported at 21% in mostly southeast Texas counties, but also in Bell County, just north of Williamson County.
Austin and the state of Texas are estimated to have higher rates of vaccine hesitancy than California. In Los Angeles, around 11% are thought to be hesitant, and only 4% reported strongly hesitant.
Meanwhile, in Florida, vaccine hesitancy is much higher. Over a quarter of the populations in certain Florida counties are estimated to be vaccine hesitant. In fellow tech hub Miami-Dade County, 19% of the population is estimated to be hesitant.
Nationwide, hesitancy appears lowest on the West and Northeast coasts, while the Upper Midwest and pockets of the South are estimated to have the highest hesitancy rates.
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Austin police have charged Kaitlin Marie Armstrong, a local cyclist, for the murder of Moriah "Mo" Wilson.
Wilson, a rising star in the gravel and mountain bike community, was found dead with gunshot wounds inside an East Austin home on the night of May 11 when she was in town for the weekend Gravel Locos race in Hico, Texas.
Police believe Wilson was having a relationship with a man Armstrong was also in a relationship with. The man, another gravel cyclist, Colin Strickland, has since issued a statement on the murder.
In his statement, he said he had a brief romantic relationship with Wilson in October 2021 before he resumed his relationship with Armstrong, but that he remained friends with Wilson. "There is no way to adequately express the regret and torture I feel about my proximity to this horrible crime. I am sorry, and I simply cannot make sense of this unfathomable tragedy.
NEW: Austin professional cyclist Colin Strickland has just released a statement about the murder of cyclist Moriah Wilson, clarifying his relationship with her and expressing “torture about my proximity to this horrible crime.” pic.twitter.com/KnIna3mWrE
— Tony Plohetski (@tplohetski) May 20, 2022
Wilson, a 25-year-old Vermont native living in Colorado, had won a slew of races becoming a fan favorite. She had just become a full-time racer this year.
Anyone with information on this crime can contact Austin police at 512-974-TIPS or contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 512-472-8477.
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Austin has added 24-hour security to the city-owned Pecan Gardens property, which will be converted into supportive housing for people exiting homelessness, after the former hotel was found with months of damage and vandalism May 5.
The building, which was broken into and stripped of copper and had people illegally sleeping inside of it, has been secured, Kelly said in a Friday press conference. Kelly said the city confirmed a measure to implement 24-hour security, including updates every 60 days until the property opens up as supportive housing.
"We cannot let this happen to any vacant city-owned property ever again," Kelly said. "This blatant act of disregard and criminal behavior will not be tolerated in our community."
The city bought the former hotel in August 2021 for $9.5 million with plans to renovate the property into a 78-unit supportive housing property. Those 55 or older that are experiencing chronic homelessness can qualify to live at the site once it is completed in late 2022-early 2023.
While the council was set to discuss a $4 million deal with Family Eldercare to begin converting the property Thursday, Kelly pulled the item for a later executive session due to security concerns. But the council did approve an item to authorize city leaders to begin negotiating other renovation contracts.
"I want to thank my colleagues for pumping the brakes on this contract and realizing that we owe the community not only an apology, but reassurance that the protection of the assets the city owns is vital to the success of achieving our intended goals," Kelly said.
When the building was found vandalized May 5, Kelly, who presides over the district containing the property, said damage included:
- Damage spanning all three floors of the building and is in nearly every room.
- The entire hotel was stripped of copper.
- Destroyed washers, dryers, air conditioners and electrical wiring.
- People sleeping at the hotel without permission.
On Tuesday, Austin’s Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Gray apologized and said there was no security due to a delay in processing the request.
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