COVID-19 April 20 Updates: Nonprofits To Get Money From City Fund, Cap Metro Gives Passengers Masks
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Update at 5:51 p.m. – Cap Metro feels the financial impact from COVID-19
Capital Metro could see its sales tax revenue drop as much as 50% in the coming months as a result of the economic disruptions caused by the coronavirus. Sales taxes account for the bulk of the agency’s revenue.
The agency is also losing money from fares, which it stopped collecting in April, and saw a steep drop in ridership in March, after schools closed and stay-at-home orders were issued.
The agency is eligible to receive $102 million in funding from the federal coronavirus relief bill, which should help it avoid dipping into reserves, according to CFO Reinet Marneweck.
Meanwhile, the agency is also dealing with the health impacts of the virus. Frontline employees like bus drivers have priority access to testing through Austin Public Health, but only if they show symptoms or have been exposed to someone who is suspected to have COVID-19.
President and CEO Randy Clarke told board members a plan for more testing is in the works once capacity is available.
“One of those items is that we do onsite testing whether through Central Health or through a private endeavor," he said. "We’re already thinking about how to implement that."
So far, nine employees have tested positive. That includes a mechanic who died two weeks ago. Cap Metro has now started temperature checks for employees at its offices and garages.
– Samuel King
Update at 4:40 p.m. – First nonprofits get money from city's $15 million relief fund
Austin Public Health has announced that Catholic Charities, Asian Family Support Services, El Buen Samaritano and the Austin Area Urban League will be among the first nonprofits to receive some of the $15 million relief fund council members approved nearly two weeks ago.
The city did not say how much money these nonprofits would be getting. The funds are intended to go to low-income families affected financially by COVID-19 and those who don’t qualify for cash payments from the federal stimulus bill.
The city is currently accepting applications from other nonprofits for a portion of the funds – anywhere from $250,000 to $2 million.
Update at 3:48 p.m. – Concordia University offers free short-term housing for frontline workers
Concordia University in Austin is offering rooms in its residence halls to first responders and health care workers who are supporting efforts to mitigate COVID-19. The workers can reserve one of more than 120 rooms to rest in between shifts, so they can avoid exposing their families to the virus.
“The university feels privileged to support our local first responders as they work selflessly for our community,” Kristin Coulter, vice president of partnerships, said in a press release. “We look forward to serving you while we continue to care for our on and off-campus students, staff, and faculty.”
Rooms can be reserved here and will be available beginning April 27, according to Concordia’s website.
Update at 1:13 p.m. – City to start awarding grants this week to help with rent
The City of Austin is accepting applications for rental assistance from a pool of $250,000.
The city said it had received 138 applications as of Monday morning and will begin awarding money this week. There are income restrictions though; a family of four, for example, can earn no more than $52,400 a year to be eligible.
Residents can call the city's social service hotline at 512-972-5780 for more information.
Update at 8:03 a.m. — Central Texas Food Bank drive-thru starts at 9 a.m.
The Central Texas Food Bank will give out meals today to people hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
Families will receive about 28 pounds of food, including peanut butter, rice and canned fruit. Boxes also come with hygiene products like toothpaste and deodorant.
The drive-thru event will be at Del Valle High School from 9 a.m. until noon. If you can't make today's food distribution event, the food bank has a map of sites where you can find food in Travis County. You can also call 2-1-1 for help finding food now.
The next food distribution event on the food bank's schedule is at the Toney Burger Center (3200 Jones Rd., Austin) on Thursday, April 30.
Update at 7 a.m. — Capital Metro to offer masks to passengers in need
A member of the community donated 40,000 surgical masks to Capital Metro, a spokesperson for the transit agency said Saturday. Capital Metro will give part of the inventory to passengers who don’t have face coverings starting Monday.
The City of Austin announced last week that people in public, including those taking public transportation, are required to wear face coverings.
“While most customers and all frontline staff have access to masks, Capital Metro knows that some members of our community do not,” a Cap Metro spokesperson said in an email.
The agency is equipping its operations supervisors, train conductors, security officers and temporary cleaning crews with extra masks, which will be available for customers who don’t have access to a face covering.
Update at 7 a.m. — More CommUnityCare drive-thru testing sites established
CommUnityCare announced more drive-up COVID-19 testing locations in eastern Travis County. The group of health centers is offering testing at various locations in this part of the county on a rotating basis Monday through Friday. The rotation began last week with Del Valle on Thursday and Colony Park on Friday.
Here’s an updated schedule for drive-up testing in eastern Travis County:
- Monday and Friday: Barbara Jordan Elementary School, 6711 Johnny Morris Rd., Austin. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Wednesday: Manor Senior High School, 14832 FM 973, Manor. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Thursday: Del Valle at Southeast Metropolitan Park, 4511 SH-71 W, Del Valle. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
No appointment, insurance or payment is needed for CommUnityCare testing. CommUnityCare has also been offering drive-up testing Monday through Saturday at the Hancock Center, 1000 E. 41st St., Ste. 925, Austin.
CommUnityCare’s Del Valle Health Center, which was closed in March, is opening Monday with modified hours. The new hours are Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Here’s what happened over the weekend
More protesters at the State Capitol call for Texas to reopen
Protesters gathered at the Capitol on Saturday demanding Texas businesses reopen. The rally was promoted by InfoWars, the Austin-based conspiracy site run by Alex Jones.
Saturday’s protest came a day after Gov. Greg Abbott announced a plan to gradually reopen aspects of the state’s economy, including an order that allows businesses not previously considered essential to offer “retail-to-go” services.
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