This post has local news on the coronavirus pandemic from Wednesday, Sept. 30. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.
- Do you think you have the coronavirus? Here's how to get tested.
- How to get help (and help) in Austin
- Find mental health support
- Track the spread in Texas
- Sign up for coronavirus email alerts
Travis County sees 93 new cases and one new death
Austin Public Health reported 93 new cases of COVID-19 in Travis County on Wednesday, up from 78 reported Tuesday. The seven-day average of daily new cases is 110. One new death was reported, bringing the county’s death total to 427.
There are now 79 people reported to be hospitalized with the virus in the five-county region (Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell), six more than yesterday. APH reported a total of 17 new COVID-19 hospital admissions in the region Wednesday. The seven-day average of new admissions is 13, up from 12.
The area is in stage 3 of APH’s risk-based guidelines. At this level, people are encouraged to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.
City of Austin extends ban on evictions until next year
Many tenants in Austin will continue to be protected from eviction after Mayor Steve Adler extended the city’s ban, which was set to expire tomorrow, to Dec. 31.
The new order bans most landlords from issuing a "notice to vacate," the first step in a legal eviction. That’s typically when a landlord posts a notice on a tenant's door saying they intend to file an eviction against the tenant in court.
This new order excludes renters protected by earlier bans. Evictions are banned only against residential tenants whose monthly rent is no more than $2,475. Residential renters must have signed and given to their landlord a declaration from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which may protect them from eviction under a national moratorium.
Only certain commercial businesses are protected from eviction, including child care centers, live music venues, art venues, restaurants and bars.
Travis County judges have also banned eviction hearings for the rest of the year, although their order does not apply to commercial tenants.
– Audrey McGlinchy
CTRMA survey finds working from home may be here to stay for some
New research from the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority finds a majority of commuters will want to work from home at least part of the week after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey found 68% of people have worked from home four or more days a week since March. At least 25% of commuters said they expect to work from home four or more days a week after COVID-19 is no longer a threat. And 65% percent expect to work from home at least part of the week after the pandemic.
“If we really do end up with 25% working from home essentially every day, that’s a significant change in travel behavior,” said Mike Heiligenstein, executive director of CTRMA. “I guess what we’re looking at is how do we incorporate that into our next round of projects.”
He said traffic on CTRMA tollways is about 80% of what it normally is right now. The MoPac Express lane has been slower to rebound.
The online survey received responses from 929 people, most of whom live in Travis County. It also found that commuters expect to decrease their use of transit (-5%), carpool (-20%) or vanpool (-55%) services to get to work after the pandemic, but 16% expect to increase their use of bikes to get around.
— Samuel King
Mail-in ballot delivery locations open Thursday
Travis County voters who’ve filled out their mail-in ballots have the option of turning them in at drive-thru locations starting Thursday.
Here are the locations:
- Travis County Tax Office at 5501 Airport Blvd. (drive-thru payment lanes)
- 700 Lavaca Parking Garage (Lavaca or Guadalupe entrance)
- 1010 Lavaca Parking Lot (enter from W. 11th St. between Guadalupe and Lavaca)
The hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays until the official start of early voting on Oct. 13. At that point, the hours will expand to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
A photo ID is needed. Voters can only drop off their own ballot, not anyone else’s.
Austin proposes providing $15 million to assist music venues, restaurants and child care facilities
The Austin City Council could vote Thursday on a $15 million plan to assist local industries like live music venues, restaurants and child care facilities during the coronavirus pandemic.
The plan would redirect city tax revenue and reallocate money within the budget to help businesses. But it would fall well short of the expected need, which estimates say could be as much as $75 million for 1,500 businesses.
Council Member Leslie Pool says she wished the state could be doing more to provide funding.
“The state absolutely should be helping out,” Pool said. “They haven’t done anything. The governor hasn’t even called a special session to have that consideration. So, there’s a huge gap in what the state of Texas is doing in order to protect its residents.”
The deliberations come as business owners prepare for possible evictions. Travis County's moratorium on evictions for commercial properties expires at midnight.
— Andrew Weber
More Pflugerville ISD students will return to in-person class next month
All Pflugerville ISD students who chose in-person learning will soon be welcomed back on campus. The district started phasing students back to its campuses on Sept. 14, but they only allowed 25% to return.
Pflugerville ISD decided to maintain that capacity through the end of their first grading period. That will change on Oct. 13, when all K-8 students who chose in-person classes can return.
Ninth through 12th graders will be using a hybrid model if they choose to return to campus, meaning they will have both virtual and in-person classes on different days of the week. Today is the deadline for families to submit their decision to the district on whether to have students attend in-person classes or remain virtual.
— Allyson Ortegon
If you find this reporting valuable, please consider making a donation to support it. Your gift pays for everything you find on KUT.org. Thanks for donating today.