Confusing messages and questionable predictions continue from Austin’s local officials, which could cause even more citizens to lose their jobs.
On Wednesday, interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said large events such as October’s Austin City Limits music festival or Texas Longhorns football are not likely for the rest of 2020.
“Mass events are a challenge and, as I said last week, I believe large events were the first thing we turned off and they’ll be the last thing we turn back on because of that risk of exposing a lot of people to others,” Escott said. “We are working on a plan to help forecast what we think is going to be reasonable, but looking through the end of December, we don’t have any indications at this stage that we would be able to mitigate risk enough to have large events, particularly ones over 2,500 [people].”
However, despite currently recommending cancellations for an entire city through the end of December, Escott also said forecasting “beyond a month or two is very challenging.”
Furthermore, Escott said Tuesday that the Chinese coronavirus curve in the Austin metro area has already flattened, though he has recommended citizens continue wearing masks for “at least a year.”
In March, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and Mayor Steve Adler decreed that anyone who does not wear a mask in public could be fined up to $1,000 or even thrown in jail for six months. Eckhardt claimed over 10,000 Travis County citizens could die if their orders were not obeyed. Adler recently used report data from the University of Texas that had 70 to 100 percent uncertainty.
As far as events for this coming fall, Austin City Limits has currently not released an update for this year’s festival, nor has the University of Texas made any changes to their football calendar. The NCAA announced Wednesday that voluntary on-campus activities for football and men’s and women’s basketball can resume on June 1.
And amid government officials’ projections of what might happen, here’s a summary of the current reality of the coronavirus in Central Texas: Travis County, which has a population of 1.27 million people, currently has almost 2,600 confirmed cases of coronavirus—0.2 percent of the population. So far, 915 have recovered; tragically, 81 have died.
From 2017 to 2018, 49 Travis County citizens died from the flu.
Of the state’s roughly 29 million Texans, there have currently been 1,369 coronavirus deaths. This flu season, 6,737 Texans died from influenza and pneumonia.
Meanwhile, because of the government officials’ shutdowns, 261,000 Austinites—an entire quarter of the city’s workforce—could lose their jobs, and over 36 million Americans are now unemployed, potentially facing a new crisis of struggling to feed their family and provide a place to live.