Whispers

Thursday, August 12, 2021 by Tai Moses

Delta variant cancels Pride Parade

Bowing to the reality of the rapidly worsening Covid spike, the organizers of the 2021 Austin Pride Parade, which was scheduled to return on Saturday, Aug. 14, after a year’s absence, announced “with an unimaginably heavy heart” that the popular event is postponed until future notice “due to Delta.” The press release explains that the decision to cancel the parade and the street party “was made for the safety of the community and city,” and concludes, “There is only one way out of this, and that is together. Please, #getvaccinated, #maskup, #socialdistance until we get this in check again.”


Wednesday, August 11, 2021 by Tai Moses

Blues on the Green canceled

The producers of Blues on the Green have made the decision to postpone the last two performances of the popular free concert series, which were scheduled for Aug. 10 and 11, due to the “latest wave in this public health emergency.” A statement released on Twitter Monday read, “This was wholly our call and we’re grateful for the understanding and cooperation we’ve received from the artists that were set to play, the sponsors and the vendors that make Blues on the Green possible, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, and the Austin public health officials we’ve consulted with along the way.” The statement concluded by urging everyone “to get vaccinated so we can again enjoy free live music in Zilker Park.”


Wednesday, August 11, 2021 by Tai Moses

Blood for ice cream

That got your attention, didn’t it? That’s the idea behind a campaign from We Are Blood called Pint for Pint. From now through Aug. 14, We Are Blood is offering blood or platelet donors a voucher for a free pint of Blue Bell Creameries ice cream. For those who are wondering, We Are Blood assures donors that “the FDA has found no evidence that Covid-19 can be transmitted via blood transfusion. It is completely safe to donate blood and to receive a blood transfusion.” The organization follows all of CDC’s recommended Covid safety measures. Quantities of ice cream are limited and advance appointments are necessary. Schedule here.


Wednesday, August 11, 2021 by Tai Moses

Covid test sites reopen

With Covid-19 cases aggressively surging due to the highly contagious Delta variant, health officials are urging anyone with signs or symptoms of Covid to get tested, regardless of their vaccination status. As Central Health explains, “While the vaccine doesn’t make you invincible from Covid-19 and its variants – including Delta – the vaccine significantly reduces your chance of getting extremely sick, being hospitalized, or dying.” Free community testing is available at the George Morales Dove Springs Recreation Center, 5801 Ainez Drive, Tuesday and Thursday from 3-7 p.m. and Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Drive-thru tests are available at the St. Johns site at 7211 N. Interstate 35 Frontage Road, Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Learn more about Covid tests in Austin-Travis County here.


Wednesday, August 11, 2021 by Tai Moses

Get ready for back-to-school

CommUnityCare’s last back-to-school event before school starts is a science roundup offering free school supplies and backpacks, health resources, vaccines, music and cold treats for free, while they last. Vaccines are free, but registration is mandatory. Kids 12 and older may receive the Covid vaccine (register here) and school-age children ages 4-18 may receive free immunizations (register here). Saturday, Aug. 14, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., Southeast Health & Wellness Center, 2901 Montopolis Drive.

 

 

 

 


Tuesday, August 10, 2021 by Seth Smalley

CAMPO cancels meeting thanks to Covid

Monday’s meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Transportation Policy Board was canceled due to a staff member’s recent exposure to the Covid-19 virus. In a press release, CAMPO said, “Out of an abundance of caution, we are cancelling because there is not enough time for CAMPO staff testing prior to the meeting time.” The meeting items will be transferred to the Sept. 13 meeting instead. Any questions regarding the meeting or its items can be sent to campo@campotexas.org.


Tuesday, August 10, 2021 by Tai Moses

Waterloo Park is ready to reopen

Photo courtesy of Waterloo Greenway Conservancy

The grand reopening of Waterloo Park, or Waterloo Park CommUNITY Day, is happening – and it’s happening on Aug. 14, the same day as the Pride Parade. It doesn’t take much imagination to visualize what traffic will be like on the big day, so plan accordingly. The festivities begin with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and dedication at Moody Amphitheater at 10 a.m., followed by local music and dance performances and family-friendly activities and food options throughout the 11-acre park. The day culminates with a “Taste of Austin” concert showcase featuring a lineup of nearly a dozen musical performances. Consult the map for a timeline of festival events, street closures and parking garages. Wear your most festive face mask and be safe.


Tuesday, August 10, 2021 by Tai Moses

Prepare for Pride Parade

After being postponed last year due to the pandemic, the Austin Pride Parade is roaring back on Saturday, Aug. 14, promising to be even bigger than 2019’s event, which organizers say drew 400,000 revelers to the streets. Notwithstanding the current dramatic spike in Covid cases, thousands of people are expected to participate in the vibrant spectacle, which kicks off at 8 p.m. at the Texas Capitol, streams down Congress Avenue and concludes around Fourth Street/Bettie Naylor Street. (See a map of the parade route.) It goes without saying that traffic will be hellish and multiple streets will be closed, so organizers suggest leaving the car at home and taking public transportation or a bicycle. Austin Public Health strongly recommends that only vaccinated people attend the event and urges everyone, participants and spectators alike, to wear face masks to protect themselves and others.


Tuesday, August 10, 2021 by Tai Moses

Want to learn more about variants?

The current surge in Covid-19 cases, driven by the highly infectious Delta variant, makes this upcoming virtual event hosted by the Austin Forum on Technology & Society devastatingly timely. In a talk titled “Covid-19: From Delta to the Pandemic Endgame,” biologists Ilya Finkelstein and Jason McLellan from the University of Texas will “explain what variants are, how they come to be, how we detect them, and more. Ilya and Jason will share what we know about Delta so far, what we can expect, and how we can battle this and future variants. While science and technology play important roles in population health and understanding pandemics, Ilya and Jason will also share what medical and scientific experts believe we can do individually and collectively to improve our outcomes.” Wednesday, Aug. 11, 7 p.m. Register on Eventbrite.


Monday, August 9, 2021 by Elizabeth Pagano

Welcome to city budget week

City Council is set to adopt the city budget this week. Council members are scheduled to meet Aug. 11, 12 and 13, though the adoption could take place on any of those days. Those interested in a nuts-and-bolts preview of the discussion might want to head over to the City Council Message Board for a sneak peek at the amendments various Council members will propose. The less masochistic among us can tune in to Channel 6 or ATXN, where the budget meetings will be broadcast live, with a scheduled start time of 10 a.m. each day.


Monday, August 9, 2021 by Elizabeth Pagano

City investigates possible toxic algae in Bull Creek

Out of an abundance of caution, city officials are warning the public about the possible presence of toxic algae in Bull Creek. According to a press release, the city was informed of a possible exposure on Aug. 5 and is investigating the situation. Preliminary lab results from water and algae samples are expected this week. Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, can produce toxins that are harmful to people and deadly to dogs. From the news release: “We are currently monitoring Lady Bird Lake and Lake Austin for harmful algae every other week. This summer we have detected low levels of dihydroanatoxin in algae at Red Bud Isle since June. We have had isolated positive tests for dihydroanatoxin at Walsh Boat Landing in June and Jessica Hollis Park in March …. To date, the city of Austin has only detected toxins in mats of algae that can be found growing on the bottom of the lake or floating on the surface. This means exposure would come through touching or swallowing visible algae. The city is aware of five dogs who died after swimming in Lady Bird Lake in 2019 and warning signs have been posted there for this reason.” Citizens may find more information about the algae on the city web page dedicated to the topic. Anyone who believes they or their dogs have been exposed is encouraged to call 311.


Monday, August 9, 2021 by Tai Moses

Give input on Zilker plan

Community members are invited to attend the second virtual community meeting the parks department is holding for the Zilker Park Vision Plan. The meeting will focus on “potential programs for the park, including enhancements, amenities, activities, events, traffic, and parking, to generate ideas for the park’s future.” Gregory Montes, PARD program manager, explained, “Zilker plays host to hundreds of programs, events, and functions each year, and thousands of Austinites and outside visitors participate in these many activities. It’s crucial that the public weigh in on future programs and events so we can balance these efforts with the goals to preserve natural and cultural resources and ensure a safe, inclusive environment throughout the park’s 350 acres.” Tuesday, Aug. 10, 6-7:30 p.m. The meeting (the second of five) will be hosted on Zoom and Facebook Live. Those who are unable to attend may share their experiences and stories on Zilker Park Vision Plan’s SpeakUp Austin page.


Monday, August 9, 2021 by Tai Moses

Learn to compost at home

If you already recycle, why not boost your home sustainability game by learning to compost? Austin Resource Recovery is holding a free online home composting class. “Rather than sending your food scraps and lawn clippings to the landfill, you can turn them into a nutrient-rich fertilizer for your plants, garden or lawn by using a home composting system.” Participants may be eligible for up to a $75 rebate on a home composting system and accessories or a backyard chicken coop. Tuesday, Aug. 10, 6-7 p.m. Register for the class on Eventbrite.


Friday, August 6, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Adler suggests stipends for vaccinated employees

With Austin Public Health’s announcement that Austin/Travis County has entered Stage 5 for Covid-19, local officials stressed the urgency of getting vaccines into the arms of the unvaccinated. During Thursday’s budget work session, Mayor Steve Adler said, “We’re in a pretty dire place in the community with respect to the Covid virus and we’re asking the employers in the city to help … employers have the ability to require masking in their businesses and have the ability to say we really only want people who are vaccinated to come in.” City leaders are also discussing the possibility of offering incentives for people to get vaccinated, such as a stipend for city employees in addition to a 2.5 percent yearly wage increase. Adler added that he would want to offer the stipends to city employees who have already been vaccinated as well. He asked his colleagues and City Manager Spencer Cronk to consider where they might find funding for those stipends.


Friday, August 6, 2021 by Tai Moses

Back-to-school clinic offers free shots

Children attending grades K-12 in Texas are required by law to have certain vaccines. To make it easier on busy families, Austin ISD is holding a free back-to-school shot clinic where students can get all of their required immunizations. The Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine will also be available for kids 12 and older; while the Covid vaccine is currently not required to attend school, it is strongly recommended. No appointment is necessary and walk-ins are welcome. Face masks are required inside the clinic and kids must be attended by a parent or guardian. Please bring your child’s immunization records if available. Saturday, Aug. 7, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. AISD Performing Arts Center, 1500 Barbara Jordan Blvd. Free shuttles will be operating from the following sites to the PAC from 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.:

  • Dobie MS, 1200 E. Rundberg Lane
  • Webb MS, 601 E. St. Johns Ave.
  • Guerrero Thompson ES, 102 E. Rundberg Lane
  • Navarro ECHS, 1201 Payton Gin Road
  • Martin MS, 1601 Haskell St.
  • Akins ECHS, 10701 S. First St.
  • Central Office, 4000 S. I-35 Frontage Road
  • Covington MS, 3700 Convict Hill Road
  • Palm ES, 7601 Dixie Drive
  • Small MS, 4801 Monterey Oaks Blvd.

Friday, August 6, 2021 by Tai Moses

Have coffee with a ranger

Park rangers know everything. At least, that’s how it seems to hikers and picnickers and park visitors desperate to shanghai a ranger and pepper her or him with questions. City park rangers have decided to make it easier to get all those questions answered by inviting Austinites to join them for a civilized cup of coffee or tea and a chat on a regular basis. Coffee and tea are provided, as are cups, but participants are encouraged to bring their own reusable mugs along with their questions and topics of conversation. Meet at the Ranger Station in Zilker Park (the stone cottage near the playground) every Saturday from 10 a.m.-noon.


Thursday, August 5, 2021 by Tai Moses

Lidar pilot helps Vision Zero goal

In an effort to move closer to the city’s Vision Zero goals, the Austin Transportation Department is testing out a laser technology called Lidar – for light detection and ranging – that “aims to monitor traffic data and proactively identify safety measures that could be taken to increase safety,” according to the department. The pilot will be installed next month at East Seventh and Springdale, a noted high-injury intersection, where it will collect traffic data for 12 weeks on “all road users including vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists in real time.” Read more about Lidar and how it works here.


Thursday, August 5, 2021 by Elizabeth Pagano

Mobility Committee moves to Friday

Demonstrating some mobility of its own, the City Council Mobility Committee is shifting gears and rescheduling its meeting from today to Friday, Aug. 6. The new meeting will take place from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., with the agenda remaining the same. On Friday, the committee is expected to take up Project Connect plans and Street Impact fees, among other things.


Thursday, August 5, 2021 by Tai Moses

City selects artists for corridor project

Local artists Steve Parker, Wanda Montemayor, Ernesto Hernandez, Nick Schnitzer, Vy Ngo, Laurie Frick, Dharmesh Patel, and Autumn Ewalt have been selected to create art installations for roadways in the Corridor Construction Program. The artists, who were recommended by a panel of community judges and selected by City Council, will collaborate with the community to design and build their artworks. Art in Public Places Program Manager Sue Lambe said in an announcement about the selection, “We’re excited that these talented local artists are now able to begin their work. Their first task will be to listen to the community, getting inspired to create public art that reflects their corridor’s goals. The coordination with the Corridor Program Office will allow for these artworks to be fully integrated in the transportation experience along these corridors.”


Wednesday, August 4, 2021 by Tai Moses

Pick from a potpourri of pop-up clinics

Residents seeking Covid vaccinations will have their pick of more than 40 vaccine events throughout the county this week. The pop-up clinics, hosted by Travis County, Austin Public Health and their local community partners, do not require appointments and are open to anyone. The Pfizer vaccine is currently the only vaccine authorized for kids ages 12-17. Check the online calendar to find a complete list of vaccine events. With the highly infectious Delta variant spreading and hospitalizations on the rise, local health officials are urging unvaccinated residents to get vaccinated without delay.


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