Public Notice: Pushing Our Limits
Time to take COVID matters into our own hands
On Monday, Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott, asking the state to set and enforce regulations similar to what's currently in place in Austin – mandatory masks, a prohibition on social gatherings of more than 10 people, and a rollback to 25% occupancy statewide – or, "If you are not willing to take these actions on behalf of the state, please roll back your restriction on local leaders being able to take these swift actions to safeguard the health of our communities." If you're not part of the solution, get the hell out of the way.
Because we're close to our limits, as witnessed by a pair of scary press releases this week. In quick succession:
• Austin-Travis County announced that "as COVID-19 cases continue to excessively surge ... contact tracing has become challenging due to widespread transmission of the disease. ... While Austin Public Health continues to hire new case investigators to follow the exponentially growing caseload, APH leadership and medical professionals plead with residents to do their part to protect themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19."
• Meanwhile, APH and CommUnityCare Health Centers "are encouraging people with health insurance to seek alternative COVID-19 testing resources to free up space for the uninsured and people without doctors." Their drive-up sites are open to anyone for free testing, but on Monday, they were already at capacity for the day before they opened their doors at 6:30am. So if you have insurance, use a pharmacy, urgent care center, or your regular doctor; the test should still be free, under the federal legislation passed in March. See www.austintexas.gov/covid19 for the most up-to-date info.
Voting woes? Here's a wrinkle: If you requested a mail-in ballot but neglected to designate a party affiliation, and so got a ballot with none of the primary run-offs on it – all is not lost! Take it to a polling place during early voting or on election day, and you can exchange it for a full ballot. Even if you can't go in because of your disability, you can call the Travis County Elections Division at 512/854-4783 and request curbside voting at any polling location, and a poll worker will bring a voting machine out to you. See a list of polling places, plus the Chronicle endorsements.
Local nonprofit Good Work Austin (see "Local Org Offers Beefed-Up COVID-19 Guidelines for Hospitality Businesses") is asking for donations to help keep Austin students fed during AISD's upcoming closure next week, July 6-10, to plug the gap in the district's summer meals program. They're looking to raise $120,000, to pay for 20,000 meals, and AISD's nonprofit education foundation, The Austin Ed Fund, has kicked in a $31,000 matching gift; donate at goodworkaustin.org.
Any businesses out there who didn't get a federal Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loan: It looks like Congress is set to extend the application period for another five weeks, with some $130 billion left to be distributed. For those who've been hurt by the pandemic, it'll pay for at least two months of payroll, rent, and certain other expenses.