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[00:00:06]

GOOD MORNING.

I'M LASHONDRA SHAW PIO FOR THE CITY OF AUSTIN.

AND I AM THE MODERATOR FOR TODAY'S MEDIA AVAILABILITY.

SPANISH INTERPRETATION IS ON ATX IN THREE TO START AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR.

STEPHANIE HAYDEN WILL FIRST SAY A FEW WORDS FOLLOWED BY DR.

MARK S. SCOTT, INTERIM AUSTIN, TRAVIS COUNTY HEALTH AUTHORITY.

THEN JANET PICHET AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH, CHIEF EPIDEMIOLOGIST FOLLOWED BY CASSANDRA DAILY, LEON INTERIM APH ASSISTANT DIRECTOR DISEASE PREVENTION, HEALTH PROMOTION DIVISION.

WE WILL THEN OPEN IT UP TO OUR POOL REPORTER WHO WILL ASK QUESTIONS ON BEHALF OF THE MEDIA.

STEPHANIE.

GOOD MORNING TODAY.

WE REALLY CANNOT EMPHASIZE THAT WE ARE IN ASSERT.

IT IS SO IMPORTANT FOR US TO STAY THE COURSE.

I KNOW THAT WE HAVE, WE HAVE PASSED THE HOLIDAY SEASON AND WE ARE VERY CONCERNED TODAY.

WE ARE COMING TO YOU FROM A PLACE OF BEING VERY CONCERNED.

OUR NUMBERS ARE AT A PLACE AND AN ALL TIME HIGH.

AND SO RIGHT NOW WE ARE REALLY, DEPENDING ON EVERYONE TO DETERMINE THE BEST BEHAVIOR YOU CAN HAVE IS REALLY TO STAY HOME.

IF YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE, UM, OUT IN THE PUBLIC, WE PREFER YOU TO STAY HOME, MAKE ONLY ESSENTIAL TRIPS.

ONLY.

WE WANT TO EMPHASIZE THAT I KNOW EVERYONE.

ISN'T EXCITED ABOUT THE VACCINE BEING HERE, BUT THERE IS NOT ENOUGH VACCINE FOR US TO PROVIDE OUR COMMUNITY.

AND EVEN WITH THE PEOPLE THAT RECEIVE THE VACCINE, WE ALL HAVE TO CONTINUE TO WEAR OUR MASK, WATCH OUR DISTANCE, WASH OUR HANDS.

AND IF YOU'RE SICK, PLEASE STAY HOME.

AND SO WE HAVE TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO DO THAT BECAUSE WE'D HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING WE CAN TO BRING THESE NUMBERS DOWN.

AT THIS TIME, I WILL TRANSITION TO DR.

SCOTT.

THANK YOU, STEPHANIE.

AND GOOD MORNING AS DIRECTOR HAYDEN SAID, WE ARE IN UNPRECEDENTED SURGE RIGHT NOW IN AUSTIN AND TRAVIS COUNTY YESTERDAY, WE REPORTED 115 ADMISSIONS TO THE HOSPITAL WITH A MOVING AVERAGE OF 83 NEW ADMISSIONS EVERY DAY FOR THE PAST WEEK, THAT'S 160% INCREASE IN OUR NEW ADMISSIONS TO THE HOSPITAL.

SINCE THE 5TH OF DECEMBER, OUR HOSPITALIZATIONS YESTERDAY 574, THAT'S 166% ICU UTILIZATION, ONE 61 YESTERDAY 99% INCREASE.

AND OUR VENTILATOR USE WAS 99 YESTERDAY.

THAT'S UP 130%.

UH, ONCE AGAIN, WE'RE NOT JUST TRACING SURGE HERE IN AUSTIN AND TRAVIS COUNTY, BUT IT'S HAPPENING STATEWIDE.

IN ADDITION TO THE 14 JURISDICTIONS THAT I HAD SURPASSED THE 15% THRESHOLD FOR SEVEN CONSECUTIVE DAYS YESTERDAY, THE STATE ADDED HOUSTON AND BELTON AND COLLEEN, UH, TO THOSE NUMBERS THIS WEEK, UH, THE VALLEY WILL ALSO TRANSITION AND LIKELY THIS WEEKEND, AUSTIN AND TRAVIS COUNTY, UH, JURISDICTION TSA.

OH, WE'LL TRANSITION INTO THAT STAGE THAT IS GOING TO NECESSITATE ROLLBACKS OF OCCUPANCY AND ROLLBACKS ON ELECTIVE PROCEDURES.

NOW THE STATE IS IN SURGE.

THE STATE IS IN CRISIS AND NOW IS THE TIME MORE THAN EVER THAT WE NEED EVERYBODY TO BAND TOGETHER AND FOLLOW THOSE DIRECTIONS.

UH, THAT MEANS STAYING HOME.

THAT MEANS WASHING YOUR HANDS, AVOIDING TOUCHING YOUR FACE, UH, YOU KNOW, ENSURING THAT WE'RE SOCIAL DISTANCING AND MASKING.

UH, WE'VE BEEN ABLE TO CONTROL DISEASE IN SOME CIRCUMSTANCES, UH, FAIRLY WELL.

THAT INCLUDES PLACES LIKE SCHOOLS, BUT AS THE POSITIVITY RATE INCREASES AS THE NUMBER OF ACTIVE CASES INCREASES, IT'S GOING TO BE MORE AND MORE DIFFICULT TO PROTECT IN THOSE AREAS THAT WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO PROTECT BEFORE.

SO IT IS GOING TO REQUIRE PEOPLE MAKING A CHOICE IF AT ALL, POSSIBLE TO STAY HOME, TO STAY HOME AND HELP MITIGATE THIS SURGE WITH THAT, I'LL TRANSITION OVER TO JANET PICHET GOOD MORNING.

UM, AS WE ANTICIPATED, UH, IT AS DR.

S SCOTT AND BOTH DIRECTOR HAYDEN HAVE MENTIONED, UH, WE ARE SEEING THOSE CASES SURGE, UH, LIKE I SAID, AS WE ANTICIPATED WOULD HAPPEN, UH, BASED ON CASE INVESTIGATION THAT IS CURRENTLY OCCURRING, MUCH OF THIS SURGE HAS BEEN DIRECTLY RELATED TO, UH, PARTICIPATION IN HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES, SUCH AS CHURCH

[00:05:01]

SERVICES, FAMILY GATHERINGS, UH, AND NEW YEAR'S EVE GATHERINGS.

AND WHAT'S HAPPENED IS NOT ONLY ARE JUST ONE OR TWO PEOPLE BEING EFFECTED, BUT ENTIRE FAMILIES ARE BEING, HAVE BEEN EXPOSED AND ARE TURNING UP POSITIVE.

UH, WE ALSO SAW UNPRECEDENTED TRAVEL DURING THIS TIME PERIOD, AND I ENCOURAGE PEOPLE THAT HAVE TRAVELED IF YOU RETURN TO THE AUSTIN AREA, THAT YOU PLACE YOURSELF IN A SEVEN DAY QUARANTINE PERIOD, UH, AND CONSIDER GETTING TESTED AT THE END OF THAT PERIOD TO ENSURE THAT YOU HAVE NOT CONTRACTED COVID-19.

UM, AS, AS BOTH DIRECTOR HAYDEN AND DR.

S SCOTT HAD MENTIONED THE ONLY WAY WE CAN CONTROL THIS SURGE, UH, UNTIL WE HAVE VACCINE THAT'S READILY AVAILABLE IN THE COMMUNITY AND IT IS ON OUR HORIZON.

AND I'M OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THAT IS THAT WE TO MAKE SURE THAT WE ARE FOLLOWING NON-PHARMACEUTICAL INTERVENTIONS, THAT WE HAVE BEEN PREACHING SINCE, UH, MARCH OF 2020, AND THAT IS WASHING YOUR HANDS, AVOID TOUCHING YOUR FACE, UH, STAY HOME IF YOU'RE SICK, UH, WEAR A MASK, DO SOCIAL DISTANCING.

AND IF YOU, AND AGAIN, STAY HOME, IF YOU'RE SICK, EVEN IF YOU'RE EXPERIENCING COVID LIKE SYMPTOMS LIKE COUGH AND FEVER, UH, LOSS OF TASTE OR SMELL, UH, CONSIDER, CONSIDER THAT YOU ARE AN INFECTIOUS PERSON.

UH, AND SO WITH THAT, I WILL NOW TURN IT ON OVER TO CASSIE DELEON.

THANK YOU, JANET.

AND GOOD MORNING, WE ARE EXCITED THAT VACCINE IS BEGINNING TO ROLL OUT INTO OUR COMMUNITY.

WHILE WE HAVE VACCINE, WE HAVE NOT SEEN THE NUMBERS THAT WE NEED TO EFFECTIVELY VACCINATE ALL THAT OUR MOST VULNERABLE, ALL THAT OUR DIRECT HEALTH CARE, ALL THAT NEED THE VACCINE IMMEDIATELY.

AND SO WE ARE WORKING COLLABORATIVELY WITH ALL OF OUR HEALTHCARE SYSTEM TO THINK ABOUT HOW WE CAN WORK THROUGH THE COMING WEEKS TO MAXIMIZE ALL OF THE VACCINE THAT WE RECEIVE IN OUR COMMUNITY.

THAT BEING SAID, WE HAVE SIGNIFICANT PLANS IN PLACE TO ENSURE ONCE WE GET THE PRODUCT, WE ARE READY AND ABLE TO ADMINISTER VACCINE TO ALL THAT NEEDED, UM, WITH, WITH A, WITH A STRATEGIC APPROACH, UM, SO THAT WE CAN ENSURE THAT THERE ARE INDIVIDUALS THAT ARE AT HIGHEST RISK ARE FOCUSED INTO, UM, PLANNED, UH, LOCATIONS SO THAT THEY ARE ABLE TO ACCESS VACCINE.

AS SOON AS WE HAVE ABILITY TO, TO ADMINISTER THAT BEING SAID, WE ARE IN THAT STATE OF EMERGENCY.

WE ARE IN A CURRENT SURGE SITUATION, AND WE'VE GOT TO DO EVERYTHING WE CAN WITH ALL THE TOOLS THAT WE ALREADY HAVE IN PLACE TO CONTROL THE SURGE.

EACH ONE OF US HAS A RESPONSIBILITY TO DO THAT.

EACH ONE OF US CAN BE AN ACTIVE PART OF CONTROLLING THE SURGE.

WE JUST HAVE TO FOLLOW THOSE PROTECTION CONTROL ORDERS THAT WE'VE HAD IN PLACE SINCE MARCH CONTINUE TO MASK, CONTINUE TO SOCIAL DISTANCE, CONTINUE TO STAY HOME WHEN YOU'RE SICK AND CONTINUE TO THINK ABOUT YOUR FAMILY, YOUR FRIENDS, UM, ALL OF OUR LOVED ONES THAT ARE VULNERABLE SO THAT WE CAN TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER AND GET THROUGH THIS, THIS PANDEMIC WITH THAT, WE CAN OPEN WITH QUESTIONS.

THANK YOU, CASSANDRA.

NOW WE WILL OPEN UP TO OUR POOL REPORTER THAT SULLIVAN FROM AUSTIN IN MORNING, EVERYONE.

AND THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO SPEAK WITH US TODAY.

THE FIRST QUESTION WE HAVE IS FROM THE CHRONICLE.

CAN YOU PROVIDE AN UPDATE ON ANY PLANS TO OPEN THE ALTERNATIVE CARE SITE AT THE CONVENTION CENTER? SO I'M HAPPY TO ANSWER THAT.

UH, WE ARE IN THE, IN THE PROCESS OF DISCUSSING THE ACTIVATION, THE ULTIMATE CARE SITE, UH, IT APPEARS THROUGH THE MODELING THAT IT LOOKS LIKE WE MAY RUN OUT OF, OF ICU BEDS NEXT WEEK.

UH, AND THERE ARE, THERE'S A PHASE BASED APPROACH, UH, TO, TO SURGE WITHIN OUR HOSPITALS AND THEN OUT OF OUR HOSPITALS AND TO ALTERNATE CARE SITES.

UH, BUT MY GUESS IS THAT, YOU KNOW, THIS WEEK OR NEXT WEEK, WE WILL START THAT ACTIVATION PROCESS FOR THE ALTERNATE CARE SITE.

IT SEEMS VERY CLEAR TO US THAT, UH, WE ARE GOING TO RUN OUT OF HOSPITAL BEDS AND THAT WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO STRETCH RESOURCES, UH, IN ORDER TO MEET THE NEEDS OF OUR COMMUNITY.

AGAIN, WE CANNOT VACCINATE OURSELVES OUT OF THIS SURGE THAT IS GOING TO REQUIRE ALL OF US TO CHANGE OUR BEHAVIORS, TO ACT IN A MORE PROTECTIVE WAY SO THAT WE CAN MITIGATE THE TRANSMISSION OF DISEASE, DECREASE THE TRANSMISSION OF DISEASE THAT WILL BUY US TIME IN ORDER TO GET MORE PEOPLE BACK SAYING THE VACCINE STRATEGY IS REALLY FOCUSED ON PREVENTING THE NEXT SURGE.

IT'S NOT GOING TO HELP US VERY MUCH WITH THIS ONE, FOR THIS ONE, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO

[00:10:01]

STAY FOCUSED ON THOSE PROTECTIVE ACTIONS.

NEXT QUESTION IS FROM COMMUNITY IMPACT.

SOME OTHER COMMUNITIES, PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENTS HAVE RECEIVED ENOUGH VACCINE DOSES TO SET UP REGISTRATION, PORTALS AND WALK-IN CLINICS.

WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH TO SET UP A SIMILAR PROCESS? HOW MANY DOSES WOULD BE NEEDED? WHAT WE HAVE SEEN ACROSS THE STATE OF TEXAS IN MY CONVERSATIONS WITH MY COLLEAGUES, UM, SOME OF THEM HAVE RECEIVED AS SMALL AS 3000 DOSES.

UM, OTHERS HAVE RECEIVED, UM, ALMOST 10,000 DOSES.

AND SO WE WOULD WANT TO BE ABLE TO S TO RECEIVE A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF DOSES, UM, AT LEAST 10,000 OR MORE, UM, TO BE ABLE TO, UM, ESTABLISH, UM, THAT TANK OF PROCESS.

AND SO IT IS IMPORTANT FOR US TO CONTINUE TO WORK WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICES.

UM, SO WE CAN RECEIVE THAT TYPE OF ALLOCATION.

AND AS SOON AS WE RECEIVE THAT ALLOCATION, WE WILL DISTRIBUTE IT TO THE PUBLIC.

NEXT QUESTION IS FROM OSTEOPENIA.

THERE HAVE BEEN REPORTS OF A SMALL NUMBER OF INELIGIBLE PEOPLE RECEIVING A COVID VACCINE ON A MASS DISTRIBUTION EVENT IN TRAVIS COUNTY.

WHAT IS BEING DONE TO ENSURE THAT VACCINES ARE GOING ONLY TO THOSE IN GROUPS, ONE A AND ONE B.

SO I'M HAPPY TO, TO, TO TAKE THAT QUESTION.

UM, WE HAVE PRIORITIES FOR VACCINES ONE DAY AND ONE DAY, UH, ARE THE PRIORITIES RIGHT NOW, THE PART OF THE CHALLENGE WITH THIS VACCINE IS, IS ONCE IT'S THAWED, IT'S GOTTA BE GIVEN.

AND SO I THINK WHAT WE'RE LIKELY TO SAY IS VERY SMALL NUMBERS OF INDIVIDUALS WHO MAY FALL OUTSIDE OF THE ONE, A OR ONE BIG GROUP THAT ARE OUR PROVIDERS ARE, ARE TRYING TO AVOID WASTE, UH, AND TRYING TO GET THOSE VACCINES INTO HARMS BEFORE THEY ARE NO LONGER USEFUL.

I THINK THE, THE MESSAGE FROM THE STATE HAS BEEN VERY CLEAR.

THESE ARE YOUR PRIORITIES, BUT DO NOT WASTE THE VACCINE.

AND WE CERTAINLY BELIEVE THAT, UH, WE WANT TO BE ABLE TO VACCINATE EVERYBODY AT SOME STAGE.

I THINK WE'RE GOING TO FIND THAT, THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE GETTING VACCINE ARE ONE A AND ONE B SOME MAY FOLLOW IT FALL INTO TWO OTHER PRIORITY GROUPS.

UH, AND I THINK THAT'S JUST SOMETHING THAT WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO ACCEPT TO AVOID THAT WASTAGE.

AND, YOU KNOW, I JUST WANT TO JUST REMIND THE PUBLIC THAT I KNOW THAT EVERYONE IS REALLY EXCITED ABOUT THE VACCINES AND WE ARE TOO.

UM, BUT IN THE MEANTIME, WE'VE GOT TO KEEP OUR FOCUS AND STAY THE COURSE.

UM, WE ARE AT A SURGE RIGHT NOW AND WHAT WE KNOW THAT HAS WORKED FOR US THUS FAR, UM, ARE THOSE, UM, PREVENTATIVE HEALTH MEASURES.

AND SO WE MUST CONTINUE TO DO THOSE MEASURES.

CPS AUSTIN ASKS YOU'VE RECEIVED NUMEROUS REPORTS OF PEOPLE IN THE ONE B CATEGORY OVER 65 YEARS OF AGE, BEING UNABLE TO FIGURE OUT WHERE THEY CAN GET A VACCINE, EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE ELIGIBLE, IT'S A MORE CENTRALIZED LOCAL INFORMATION SOURCE, A DISTRIBUTION OR DISTRIBUTION POINT BEING CONSIDERED THE, THE VACCINE, UM, DISTRIBUTE THE PERSON THAT DISTRIBUTES THE VACCINE IS THE TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICES.

THEY ARE WORKING ON A DASHBOARD.

UM, THE DASHBOARD WILL HAVE ALL OF THE PROVIDERS THERE AND HOW MUCH VACCINE, UM, THEY AREN'T GOING TO BE ABLE TO PROVIDE ONCE THAT SYSTEM IS UP AND RUNNING.

THE GOAL IS FOR THE CITY OF AUSTIN TO HAVE A SIMILAR DASHBOARD, UM, LIKE WE DID FOR TESTING.

SO WHAT WE WOULD DO IS THEN WE WILL DETERMINE ALL OF THE PROVIDERS IN TRAVIS COUNTY AND, UM, WHERE THEY'RE LOCATED AND, AND BE ABLE TO PROVIDE THAT INFORMATION ON OUR WEBSITE.

AND THEN THAT WAY THEY CAN LOOK AT WITH SEVERAL PROVIDERS AND MAKE A DECISION ABOUT THE MOST APPROPRIATE PLACE FOR THEM TO GO, TO GET THEIR VACCINE.

AND I WOULD JUST LIKE TO ADD THE SITUATION THAT WE HAVE CURRENTLY IN TRAVIS COUNTY IS THE AMOUNT OF ALLOCATION THAT WE RECEIVED IS REALLY ENOUGH TO FOCUS ON OUR ONE, A POPULATION WE'VE NOT RECEIVED ENOUGH VACCINE TO REALLY, UM, EFFICIENTLY TO THAT ONE BEEF POPULATION.

I, AND I UNDERSTAND THAT THE GOVERNOR AND THE DEPARTMENT HEALTH SERVICES HAS OPENED UP VACCINE TO THAT BROADER COMMUNITY.

WE

[00:15:01]

JUST HAVEN'T HAD THAT AMOUNT OF VACCINE AVAILABLE.

SO AS ADDITIONAL WEEKS COME THROUGH, THAT WILL BE THE GUIDANCE WE APPLY TO OUR ALLOCATION SO THAT WE CAN EXPAND VACCINE TO A BROADER COMMUNITY.

WITH THAT BEING SAID, WE HAVE TO CONTINUE TO PRACTICE THOSE SAFETY MEASURES SO WE CAN PROTECT EACH OTHER THROUGHOUT THE REST OF THIS, THIS TIME PERIOD, SO THAT WE CAN REALLY TAMP DOWN THIS SEARCH.

NEXT QUESTION IS FROM KX AND THE TIMELINE FOR WHEN OUR ICU'S MIGHT FILL UP, CONTINUES TO SHIFT JUST BEFORE THE NEW YEAR MODELING SUGGESTED ICU WOULD BE FULL BY TODAY.

THE LATEST INFO SAYS JANUARY 15, IT APPEARS CASES AND HOSPITALIZATIONS CONTINUED TO GET WORSE.

THE, WE KEEP PUSHING BACK WHEN WE WILL EXCEED OUR ICU CAPACITY.

WHY, UH, AND I'M, I'M HAPPY TO TAKE THAT QUESTION.

UH, YOU KNOW, THE, THE, THE MODELS ARE MODELS, THEY'RE PROJECTIONS OF, OF WHAT WILL HAPPEN.

UH, IT'S NOT TELLING THE FUTURE, IT'S TELLING US THE FUTURE.

IF THEY DISEASE TRANSMISSION STAYS THE SAME AS IT IS.

UH, I THINK IT'S A GREAT SIGN THAT, THAT WE SEE THAT DATE GETTING PUSHED OFF OUR HOPE IS THAT WE CAN AVOID OVERWHELMING SURGE.

UH, THAT'S STILL A POSSIBILITY IT'S STILL WITHIN US AS A COMMUNITY TO FLATTEN THE CURVE AND, AND, AND AVOID OVERWHELMING OUR HEALTHCARE SYSTEM.

BUT IT TAKES ALL OF US TO DO THAT.

IT TAKES THE DECISIONS FROM EVERY INDIVIDUAL'S COMMUNITY TO STAY HOME, UH, TO, TO NOT GO OUT, UNLESS IT'S ESSENTIAL.

IF THEY WANT TO GET FOOD OR RETAIL TO DO A TAKEAWAY OR DELIVERY, IT'S, IT'S THOSE KINDS OF THINGS THAT WILL CHANGE THE SHAPE OF THAT CURVE.

THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT WE SAW BACK IN JUNE AND JULY.

WE SHOWED SIMILAR PROJECTIONS, WHICH INDICATED THAT, UH, THAT WE WERE GOING TO HAVE OVERWHELMING SURGE, BUT WHAT HAPPENED IN THE SUMMER IS PEOPLE RESPONDED, OUR COMMUNITY SAID, WE'RE NOT GOING TO LET THIS HAPPEN HERE.

THEY STAYED HOME.

THEY REDUCED THEIR RISK AND THE CURVE WAS FLATTENED AND THEN DECLINED.

THAT'S WHAT WE NEED TO HAPPEN AGAIN.

UM, OUR HOPE IS THAT AGAIN, WE CAN CHANGE THE SHAPE OF THAT CURVE.

WE CAN CONTINUE TO PUSH OFF THE DATE WHEN, WHEN THAT, UH, ICU CAPACITY IS GOING TO BE, UH, SURPASSED, BUT THAT, THAT TIMEFRAME IS GETTING SHORTER AND SHORTER TO TAKE THE SITES OF ACTION AS A COMMUNITY TO, TO AVOID THAT.

AND I'LL JUST ADD THAT, YOU KNOW, UNTIL VACCINES AVAILABLE, UH, YOU KNOW, WE KNOW WHAT PRACTICES WORK AS FAR AS ELIMINATING AND REDUCING THE RISK OF TRANSMISSION OF DISEASE.

AND THAT IS THOSE NON-PHARMACEUTICAL, UH, AND PREVENTATIVE MEASURES THAT WE HAVE BEEN DISCUSSING OVER AND OVER.

AND THAT'S, UH, WE NEED TO CONTINUE TO DO THAT.

AND IN ORDER TO FLATTEN THE CURVE, I MEAN, I WANT TO SEE THAT HAPPEN.

UM, I SAID BACK IN LATE SUMMER, UH, THE HISTORY OF PANDEMIC SHOW THAT THERE'S ALWAYS GOING TO BE A SECOND WAY.

AND, UH, HISTORY HAS SHOWN US OFTEN THAT THE SECOND WAVE IS USUALLY GREATER THAN THE, THAN THE FIRST WAVE AND, AND, AND THINGS AREN'T HAPPENING AS I ANTICIPATE, OR WE ANTICIPATED, THEY WOULD.

SO IT'S ALL THE MORE IMPORTANT FOR, UH, PEOPLE TO, TO CHOOSE, TO DO THE RIGHT THING, TO PROTECT THEIR FAMILY AND THEIR LOVED ONES, AND TO PROTECT OUR COMMUNITY UNTIL WE ARE ABLE TO, UH, GET VACCINE OUT INTO PEOPLE.

NEXT QUESTION WE HAVE IS FROM TEXAS TRIBUNE.

WHEN DO YOU EXPECT TRAVEL OR GATHERINGS OVER CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR TO BE FULLY REFLECTED IN THE HOSPITALIZATION NUMBERS? UM, I THINK THEY'RE BEING REFLECTED IN THE HOSPITALIZATION AND OUR NEW CASE CUT NUMBERS RIGHT NOW, AS I MENTIONED EARLIER, WE ARE DOING CASE INVESTIGATIONS.

UM, UH, AND, YOU KNOW, I HAD ONE CASE INVESTIGATOR MENTIONED THIS MORNING, EVERY SINGLE PERSON HE INVESTIGATED WAS DIRECTLY RELATED TO A HOLIDAY GATHERING, WHETHER THEY GOT TOGETHER WITH THEIR FAMILY OVER THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS OR NEW YEAR'S AND NOT JUST ONE FAMILY MEMBER, BUT MULTIPLE FAMILY MEMBERS HAVE COME DOWN WITH COVID.

UM, YOU KNOW, WITH THAT TYPE OF SURGE, UH, WE KNOW THAT OUR HOSPITALS ARE GOING TO BE SURGED.

I MEAN, IT'S JUST A DIRECT CONSEQUENCE OF THAT.

AND SO IT'S, IT, IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT AT THIS POINT IN TIME THAT WE CONTROL THE SURGE AND FLATTEN THE CURVE AGAIN, UH, YOU KNOW, W WE EXPECT THAT THAT SURGE TO HAPPEN THE

[00:20:01]

IMPACT OF THE HOLIDAYS A WEEK TO TWO WEEKS FOLLOWING THE HOLIDAY.

UH, SO WE'RE SMACK IN THE MIDDLE OF SAYING WHAT HAPPENED OVER CHRISTMAS NEXT WEEK.

WE'RE GOING TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED AT NEW YEAR'S, WHAT'S IMPORTANT THAT WE DO NOW.

WE CAN'T CHANGE WHAT HAPPENED THEN WHAT WE CAN CHANGE IS WHAT HAPPENS GOING FORWARD.

AND THAT'S WHY WE'RE GIVING THE ADVICE.

IF YOU TRAVEL DURING THE HOLIDAYS, IF YOU WERE INVOLVED IN A SOCIAL GATHERING FOR CHRISTMAS OR NEW, YEAR'S STAY HOME, PLEASE GET TESTED.

IF WE CAN LIMIT THE NEXT GENERATION OF TRANSMISSIONS BY BEING MORE PROTECTIVE RIGHT NOW, THE NECK WILL HELP FLATTEN THE CURVE IN TWO OR THREE WEEKS.

UH, BUT WE HAVE TO TAKE THOSE ACTIONS TODAY.

NEXT QUESTION IS FROM COOPERATING, LEO PROFESSOR MARTIN HIBBARD AT THE LONDON SCHOOL OF HYGIENE AND TROPICAL MEDICINE SUGGEST THAT AROUND 70% OF PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN MAY BE ASYMPTOMATIC CARRIERS OR ARE LESS LIKELY TO SHOW SYMPTOMS, BUT ALSO LESS LIKELY TO PASS IT ON.

WHAT DO YOU KNOW OF SUCH CONTAGION WITHIN AISD AUSTIN, INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT? WELL, W WE DON'T HAVE ACTIVE SURVEILLANCE PROGRAMS OF, OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS.

UH, SO WE SIMPLY DON'T KNOW ABOUT, UH, ASYMPTOMATIC TRANSMISSION.

I WILL SAY THAT, UH, WHEN WE LOOK AT THE BREAKDOWNS BY SCHOOL AGES, THE POSITIVITY RATE FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IS MUCH LOWER THAN IT IS FOR MIDDLE OR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS.

UH, AGAIN, ONE OF THE CHALLENGES THAT WE FACE, UH, WITH OUR SCHOOLS GOING BACK INTO SESSION IS THAT THINGS ARE DIFFERENT AND THERE'S, THERE'S THREE MAIN ISSUES THAT WE NEED TO FOCUS ON.

NUMBER ONE IS WE HAVE A MUCH HIGHER POSITIVITY RATE THAT WE HAVE EVERY INDICATION THAT THIS WEEK, UH, WE'RE GONNA BE OVER 20% POSITIVITY, MAYBE CLOSER TO 25.

UH, WE HAVE A NEW VARIANT, WHICH WE DON'T HAVE CONFIRMATION OF BEING HERE.

WE CAN CERTAINLY ASSUME FROM THE DATA THAT WE'RE SEEING, HOW OTHER STATES THAN IT IS HERE, UH, WHICH MAKES IT MORE CONTAGIOUS.

AND THE THIRD ISSUE IS THAT WE HAVE INDICATIONS FROM OUR SUPERINTENDENTS THAT MORE STUDENTS AND FAMILIES ARE CHOOSING IN-PERSON EDUCATION THIS SEMESTER.

SO THOSE THREE THINGS ARE GOING TO LEAD US TO HAVE OUTBREAKS RELATED TO SCHOOLS WHERE WE MAY NOT HAVE SEEN THAT IN THE PAST.

UH, THIS IS WHY WE MADE THE RECOMMENDATION THAT ALL OF OUR SCHOOLS THAT I GO VIRTUAL FOR AT LEAST THE FIRST TWO WEEKS OF THIS SEMESTER OF OUR ADVICE REMAINS THE SAME FOR THE PARENTS.

IF YOU CAN CHOOSE VIRTUAL EDUCATION, YOU SHOULD CHOOSE VIRTUAL EDUCATION.

NOW, PATCH.COM ASKS YOU SPECIFICALLY DETERMINES THE NUMBER OF VACCINE DOSAGE EACH CITY GETS.

UH, SO THERE IS A, A, UH, A PROCESS FOR THE STATE, UH, THAT DOES THE ALLOCATION TO VARIOUS JURISDICTIONS.

UH, SO THE STATE IS IN CHARGE OF DISTRIBUTING VACCINE.

IN ADDITION TO THE DISTRIBUTIONS FROM THE STATE, THERE IS A FEDERAL PROGRAM, UH, THAT DISTRIBUTES VACCINE DIRECTLY TO PHARMACIES FOR THE PURPOSES OF VACCINATING, THAT LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES AND THEIR STAFF.

THE NEXT QUESTION IS FROM KVU DR.

AS SCOTT SAID, THE NEW VARIANT IS SHOWN TO INFECT CHILDREN.

AS KIDS RETURNED TO CLASS, WILL THE VIRUS SPREAD MORE EASILY AMONG CHILDREN? WELL, I'LL, I'LL, I'LL STAY AT A CORRECTION.

I, I DIDN'T SAY THAT IT, IT, IT SPREADS MORE EASILY AND CHILDREN, I SAID IT MORE EASILY.

UH, AND AGAIN, THOSE THREE FACTORS THAT ARE GOING TO LEAD TO A HIGHER LIKELIHOOD OF CLUSTERS AND OUTBREAKS IN SCHOOLS IS THAT INCREASING POSITIVITY, THE NEW VARIANT AND MORE CROWDING IN SCHOOLS.

UH, AGAIN, IT'S IMPORTANT NOW, MORE THAN EVER THAT WE LIMIT THE CROWDING OF THAT INCLUDES SCHOOLS.

WE HAVE PARTICULAR ISSUES OF CONCERN IN SCHOOLS.

UH, ONE IS SURROUNDING EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES OR RHINO INDIVIDUALS ARE NOT MASKED, AND THEY'RE NOT DISTANCED BECAUSE OF THE NATURE OF THE ACTIVITY.

THOSE SHOULD BE SUSPENDED.

THE OTHER MAJOR ISSUE OF RISK IS, UH, IS RELATED TO, UH, CAFETERIAS THAT MAY STILL BE FUNCTIONING AGAIN WHEN PEOPLE ARE, HAVE THEIR MASKS OFF, AND THEY'RE NOT SOCIALLY DISTANT, IT'S GOING TO INCREASE THE LIKELIHOOD OF TRANSMISSION.

AND I WILL SAY ONE OTHER THING WHERE WE'VE DEFINITELY SEEN CLUSTERS AND THAT'S ASSOCIATED WITH, WITH SHARED TRANSPORTATION.

SO CARPOOLS AND BUSES MAY BE ANOTHER ISSUE, UH, THAT IS GOING TO LEAD TO INCREASING TRANSMISSION ASSOCIATED WITH SCHOOLS.

NEXT QUESTION IS FROM AUSTIN AMERICAN STATESMAN.

HOW ARE HEALTH OFFICIALS PLANNING TO DO VACCINE EDUCATION

[00:25:01]

AND INFORM IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES THAT SPEAK A LANGUAGE OTHER THAN ENGLISH? UM, THE DEPARTMENT, UM, HAS DONE A FEW THINGS, UM, DURING THIS, DURING THIS RESPONSE, UM, WE HAVE ENSURE THAT OUR MATERIALS ARE, UM, CULTURALLY AND LINGUISTICALLY APPROPRIATE.

UM, WE WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO.

THE OTHER THING IS SINCE, UM, WE HAVE A MINI GRANT PROCESS WHERE WE ARE GOING TO BE WORKING WITH SMALL NONPROFITS THAT ARE ABLE TO DO SOME GRASSROOTS WORK, TO BE ABLE TO PROVIDE OUTREACH AND EDUCATION, UM, TO OUR COMMUNITIES.

AND SO, UM, THOSE MATERIALS, UM, WILL BE, UM, IN MULTIPLE LANGUAGES.

AND I THINK WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT WE WANT TO GET THE MESSAGE OUT TO ALL RESIDENTS WITHIN OUR, WITHIN OUR COUNTY, UM, WITHIN OUR COMMUNITY, THAT THE VACCINE DOESN'T REQUIRE THAT YOU'RE A CITIZEN, YOU CAN GET THE VACCINE AND IT WILL BE FREE.

AND THE MAIN THING IS JUST TO LOOK FOR WHAT ARE YOUR ACCESS CHANNELS AND, AND WORK WITH THOSE TO, TO, TO ACCESS VACCINE.

SO THAT, THAT IS ONE OF THE THINGS WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT ALL FOLKS UNDERSTAND AND KNOW THAT THE VACCINE IS GOING TO BE AVAILABLE WHEN YOU GET IT, UM, OR, OR THE POPULATION GROUPS THAT ARE, UM, DESIGNATED FOR THAT VACCINE AT THAT TIME, REGARDLESS OF THEIR, UM, THEIR STATUS WITHIN, WITHIN THE, UM, REGARDING THEIR CITIZENSHIP.

K U T ASKS WITH TRENDS, CONTINUING TO WORSEN IS APH HAVE PLANS FOR RECOMMENDATIONS BEYOND STAGE FIVE OF ITS CURRENT RISK BASED GUIDELINES.

BUT WHAT IS STAGE SIX LOOK LIKE? WELL, TH THERE'S NOT REALLY A STAGE WE'VE REALLY REACHED THE LIMITS OF, OF WHAT WE CAN DO UNDER, UNDER STATE LAW AND UNDER THE EXECUTIVE ORDERS.

UH, AGAIN, YOU KNOW, I, I THINK WE WOULD ENCOURAGE THE STATE TO REASSESS THEIR PLAN.

UH, YOU KNOW, WHAT WE'VE SEEN IS JURISDICTION AFTER JURISDICTION TRANSITIONING INTO A SURGE, AND THEN ONCE THEY TRANSITIONED TO SURGE, IT CONTINUES TO WORSEN.

I DON'T THINK THE ROLL BACK TO 50% OCCUPANCY AT RETAIL AND, AND, UH, RESTAURANTS IS, IS DOING THE TRICK.

UH, AND I, YOU KNOW, I WILL SAY, I THINK IT WAS A GOOD STRATEGY.

I THINK IT WAS FORWARD-THINKING TO SET THOSE BENCHMARKS, BUT I THINK WE HAVE TO ASSESS THE SITUATION AND IDENTIFY WHETHER OR NOT THE STRATEGY IS WORKING OR NOT.

IT'S CLEARLY NOT WORKING, WHICH MEANS THAT WE NEED TO REASSESS.

WE NEED TO READ PLAN AND WE NEED TO IMPLEMENT THE OTHER STRATEGIES THAT MAY SERVE TO MITIGATE THE RISK FURTHER.

UH, WE HAVE RECORD NUMBERS OF DEATHS IN TEXAS.

WE HAVE RECORD NUMBERS OF HOSPITALIZATIONS ACROSS THE STATE, UH, IN IT'S GOING TO WORSEN UNLESS WE TAKE ACTION TO MITIGATE THAT RISK.

AND AGAIN, WE'RE NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT THROUGH VACCINATION ALONE.

IT'S GOING TO TAKE STRONGER POLICY TO HELP US LIMIT THAT RISK.

NOW, THIS NEXT QUESTION IS FROM FOX SEVEN, WE HAVE SEEN PEOPLE POSTING ON SOCIAL MEDIA SCIENCE AT HEB AND OTHER PHARMACIES THAT THESE PLACES ARE RUNNING OUT OF VACCINE ONE, MAN, WE SPOKE TO CAN FIND ONE FOR HIS 93 YEAR OLD GRANDMOTHER.

I UNDERSTAND APH IS ONLY IN CONTROL OF ITS OWN DISTRIBUTION, BUT ARE YOU HEARING ANYTHING ON YOUR END? AND DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA AS TO WHY THIS IS HAPPENING? IS IT A STATE ISSUE? OUR ACCOUNTING PROBLEM? SO LET ME, I'M GOING TO START THIS AND I'M SURE THE OTHERS MAY WANT TO ADD IN.

I THINK WE NEED TO APPRECIATE THE BIGGER PICTURE.

WE ARE ABOUT A YEAR PAST IDENTIFYING THIS VIRUS AND WE HAVE A VACCINE WHICH HAS BEEN ALLOCATED IN THE MILLIONS ACROSS THE UNITED STATES.

THIS IS AN INCREDIBLE FEAT OF SCIENCE.

IT'S AN INCREDIBLE FEAT OF GOVERNMENT TO EVEN BE AT THIS STAGE, WHAT WE HAVE TO REALIZE.

IT'S GOING TO TAKE TIME TO GET THAT VACCINE OUT.

AND I KNOW IT'S FRUSTRATING AND I KNOW WE ALL WANT IT NOW.

I WANT IT FOR MY OWN FOLKS AND MY IN-LAWS, BUT IT'S SIMPLY NOT THERE IN THE VOLUME YET.

SO I'M GOING TO ASK THAT PEOPLE BE PATIENT.

UH, THE STATE IS DOING A GOOD JOB OF GETTING VACCINE OUT WHEN THEY CAN, BUT WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT THERE'S NOT HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF VACCINE, WHICH IS PRODUCED IN WAITING ON DISTRIBUTION.

THE STATE, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ARE GETTING IT OUT AS QUICKLY AS, AS THEY GET IT.

IT'S GOING TO TAKE TIME.

AND UNTIL WE HAVEN'T INSUFFICIENT SUPPLY, WE NEED PEOPLE TO FOCUS ON THOSE PROTECTIVE MEASURES THAT ABSOLUTELY

[00:30:01]

DO WORK.

THE MASKING, THE DISTANCING, THE HAND HYGIENE, STAYING HOME WHEN YOU'RE SICK, THAT THOSE THINGS WILL WORK.

IT WILL BUY US TIME IN ORDER TO GET MORE PEOPLE VACCINATED.

AND JUST TO ADD TO WHAT DR.

S SCOTT SAID, JUST TO GIVE SOME PERSPECTIVE AS OF WEEK THREE ALLOCATION, THIS COUNTY ONLY RECEIVED 42,000 DOSES OF VACCINE THAT DOES NOT GO VERY FAR, AND THAT DOES NOT MEET EVEN THE NEEDS THAT WE HAVE FOR OUR DIRECT HEALTH CARE STAFF.

THERE ARE MORE VACCINE THAT'S COME INTO OUR, OUR, OUR, UM, COUNTY THIS WEEK, AND WE'RE WORKING HARD TO TRY AND DISTRIBUTE THAT, BUT THAT ONLY INCREASED ABOUT 10%, 10,000 ADDITIONAL DOSES.

SO THERE'S A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT NEED VACCINE.

A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT NEED THAT ONE B CATEGORY THAT, UM, COULD BE ELIGIBLE.

WE JUST DON'T HAVE ENOUGH OF THE PRODUCT TO PROVIDE.

WHEN WE GET MORE ONLINE, WE WILL, WE WILL HAVE, UH, PLANS AND WE CURRENTLY HAVE PLANS IN PLACE TO DISTRIBUTE, AND WE WILL MAKE SURE THAT ALL OF THOSE THAT ARE, ARE PRIORITIZED THAT HAVE, THAT WE CAN FOCUS ON IN THAT ONE BIG CATEGORY THAT WE WORK THROUGH THE SYSTEMS TO GET THEM THE SHOTS.

UM, IN THE MEANTIME, THE BEST THING THAT WE CAN DO FOR ALL OF THOSE VULNERABLE POPULATIONS IS TO PRACTICE THE CONTROL MEASURES THAT WE CURRENTLY HAVE IN PLACE.

AND IT'S IMPERATIVE THAT WE CONTINUE TO DO THAT THROUGHOUT THE REMAINDER OF THE NEXT FEW MONTHS.

NEXT QUESTION IS FROM USA TODAY.

HOW CONCERNED ARE YOU ABOUT THE COMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION AND CONTRIBUTING TO THE ANOTHER SPIKE IN COVID-19 CASES? AND ARE YOU RECOMMENDING THAT ALL OUR MAKERS AND STAFF BE VACCINATED ASAP? UM, I'M HAPPY TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION.

UM, SO BEFORE CHRISTMAS I MADE THE RECOMMENDATION PUBLICLY THAT OUR STATE LEGISLATORS AND THEIR KEY STAFF BE VACCINATED PREFERABLY IN THEIR HOME JURISDICTION, UH, BEFORE THEY COME TO AUSTIN.

BUT I DO THINK WE NEED TO VACCINATE THOSE INDIVIDUALS BECAUSE WE DO HAVE A LARGE EVENT, AND WE'VE NOT HAD AN EVENT OF THIS SIZE SINCE THE PANDEMIC AGAIN IN AUSTIN.

AND WE DO HAVE TO RECOGNIZE THAT THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE, THE DURATION OF THE CONTACT AND THE NATURE OF THE CONTACT IS GOING TO LEAD TO INCREASED RISK OF TRANSMISSION.

UH, BOTH HOUSES ARE DOING A GREAT JOB OF CREATING PROTECTIONS, BUT THE BEST PROTECTION THAT WE'RE GOING TO HAVE IS ADDING ANOTHER LAYER OF DEFENSE AND THAT'S VACCINE, UH, YOU KNOW, EACH COMMUNITY FROM AROUND THE STATE HAS ELECTED THESE INDIVIDUALS TO REPRESENT THEM FOR A LIMITED AMOUNT OF TIME EVERY OTHER YEAR.

UH, AND I THINK FOR THE PURPOSES OF CONTINUITY OF GOVERNMENT, IT'S IMPORTANT THAT THOSE INDIVIDUALS ARE VACCINATED TO HELP PREVENT SPREAD WITHIN THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION, BUT ALSO TO MITIGATE THE RISK OF SPREAD TO OUR COMMUNITY, OUR AUSTIN AND TRAVIS COUNTY COMMUNITY.

UH, SO MY HOPE IS THAT THAT THE STATE WILL, WILL PROVIDE BACK SAME FOR THOSE LEGISLATORS THAT ARE KEY STAFF, UH, FOR THOSE PURPOSES.

AND I'LL JUST ADD THAT IT IS A LARGE CONGREGATE SETTING, WHICH HAS THE VERY HIGH POTENTIAL FOR DISEASE, TRANSMISSION RISKS TO OCCUR.

AND SO, UM, IN THE ABSENCE OF VACCINE IS, CAN BE IMPORTANT FOR THOSE LEGISLATORS AND ALL THE PUBLIC, UH, THAT WILL INTERACT IN THE, UH, PROCESS OF THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION TO BE SURE THAT THEY ARE, UM, FOLLOWING THOSE PREVENTION MEASURES TO REDUCE, UH, ADDITIONAL DISEASE, TRANSMISSION RISKS.

AND I WOULD LIKE TO ADD, YOU KNOW, I AGREE WITH BOTH WHAT DR.

GRANT SCOTT AND JANET PUSH-IN HAS SAID.

UM, BECAUSE I THINK, YOU KNOW, ONE OF THE OTHER THINGS THAT IS VERY IMPORTANT, UM, IF ARE, IF I'M, UH, LEGISLATORS ARE, ARE SAFE, THE ENVIRONMENT IS SAFE.

UM, THEY HAVE THEIR VACCINE, UM, AND THEN EVERYONE, INCLUDING THEM CONTINUE TO WEAR THEIR MASKS, UM, IN, IN, UH, PHYSICALLY, UM, DISTANCE IN THAT LOCATION, UM, AS INDIVIDUALS THAT MAY WANT TO COME UP, UM, TO, UM, PROVIDE THEIR EXPERTISE AND THEIR OPINION, UM, ON SPECIFIC, UM, LEGISLATIVE MATTERS, IT MAKES IT TO BE A SAFER PLACE FOR THE PUBLIC, BECAUSE WE ARE ULTIMATELY CONCERNED ABOUT EVERYONE'S SAFETY.

THIS IS A QUESTION THAT WE HAVE AT THE CHRONICLE.

WHEN DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE THE IMPACT OF NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS AT BARS IN THE DATA? UM, I WOULD EXPECT, UM, THAT WE WOULD BEGIN TO START SEEING THAT IMPACT THIS WEEK.

UH, AS I MENTIONED, UH, WE'RE, WE'RE DEFINITELY SEEING THE IMPACT OF CHRISTMAS AND

[00:35:01]

HOLIDAY GATHERINGS.

UM, UM, AS WE'VE SAID IN PREVIOUS MEDIA BRIEFINGS, UH, USUALLY TAKES ABOUT FIVE, FIVE TO SIX DAYS FOR THE IMPACT TO BE SEEN A CASE INVESTIGATION IS SHOWING THAT WE HAVE HAD PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN IN A BAR SETTINGS THAT HAVE BEEN EXPOSED OR HAVE, UH, BECOME POSITIVE.

AND THAT WAS THEIR ONLY KNOWN EXPOSURE, UH, OUTSIDE OF THEIR HOME.

BUT, UH, I IMAGINE THE CASE COUNTS WILL CONTINUE TO INCREASE OVER THE NEXT WEEK, UM, AND THAT WE MAY SEE THE IMPACT, UH, FROM NEW YEAR'S EVE, EVEN NEW YEAR'S EVE GATHERINGS, UH, WITHIN THE NEXT WEEK OR SO, IF NOT NOW, AND AGAIN, UH, THE, THE PATTERN THAT WE SEE IS WE SEE INCREASES IN POSITIVITY.

WE SEE THE IMPACT IN THE NEW CASES, AND THEN AS A LAGGING INDICATOR, UH, THE IMPACT ON HOSPITALIZATIONS AND EVENTUALLY DEATHS.

UH, SO THERE'S GOING TO BE SOME VARIATION WHEN WE SEE THOSE INDICATORS OF CHANGE.

UH, BUT YOU KNOW, AGAIN, WE EXPECT FOR IT TO COMPOUND OUR ISSUES.

NOW THAT WE'RE SEEING THAT RELATED TO CHRISTMAS.

NEXT QUESTION IS FROM CBS AUSTIN, THE POSITIVITY RATE JUMPED FROM 15.5 TO 17.8% IN A SINGLE DAY.

THE RATE AMONG CHILDREN BETWEEN 10 AND 19 YEARS OLD IS ALSO ESCALATING.

DO YOU SEE THAT AS A NEW LEADING POINT IN CORONAVIRUS SPREAD? YES, WE'RE, WE'RE CONCERNED.

AND AGAIN, UH, WHEN WE LOOK AT THE LAST TWO DAYS OF LAST WEEK, UH, WHICH ARE THE FIRST TWO DAYS OF JANUARY, THAT PER THE, UH, POSITIVE RATE ON THOSE TWO DAYS WAS 19%.

UH, SO EVERY INDICATION THAT WE HAVE IS THAT IT'S CONTINUING IN AN UPWARD DIRECTION.

SO THIS MEANS NEXT WEEK FOR HOSPITALIZATIONS, IT'S GOING TO CONTINUE IN AN UPWARD DIRECTION, OR THESE ARE THE THINGS THAT ARE CONCERNING US.

AND, YOU KNOW, I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT FOR US AS AN ENTIRE COMMUNITY TO LIMIT THE RISK AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, INCLUDING OUR RISK OF SCHOOLS.

THIS QUESTION IS FROM KX AND DR.

S SCOTT IS RECOMMENDING STUDENTS HAVE TWO MORE WEEKS OF VIRTUAL LEARNING, BUT THEIR SUPERINTENDENT HAS OPENED UP THE CAMPUS FOR IN-PERSON LEARNING.

IT'S IN PERSON LEARNING, NOT SAFE.

WHAT'S THE DISCONNECT.

UH, WELL, THE, THE, THE DISCONNECT AND THE ISSUE IS THAT THE SCHOOLS CAN'T BE FUNDED UNLESS THEY OFFER IN-PERSON EDUCATION.

UM, THIS IS DIRECTLY CONTRADICTORY TO WHAT THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES RECOMMENDED, WHICH IS THAT YOU SHOULDN'T PENALIZE SCHOOL DISTRICTS FOR, UH, FOR OFFERING THAT VIRTUAL OPTION.

UH, I THINK THE SCHOOL DISTRICTS WOULD WANT IT TO OFFER THE VIRTUAL OPTION FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOLS IN PARTICULAR, UH, THAT THERE WAS PUSHBACK FROM, FROM THE STATE ON THAT.

UH, AND THERE WAS A CONCERN ABOUT, ABOUT FUNDING.

UM, SO I THINK THAT'S, THAT'S THE CHALLENGE.

THAT'S A DISCONNECT, I THINK, REGARDLESS OF, OF WHAT THE SCHOOL DISTRICT POLICY IS ON, HAVING THE OPTION FOR IN-PERSON MY RECOMMENDATION ACROSS THE BOARD IS IF YOU CAN VIRTUALLY EDUCATE YOUR STUDENTS, PARTICULARLY OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF WEEKS, YOU SHOULD DO THAT.

MY OWN CHILDREN WERE IN-PERSON SEMESTER.

THE RISK WAS MUCH DIFFERENT THIS SEMESTER.

THEY ARE BOTH VIRTUAL AND, YOU KNOW, AGAIN, IF MORE PARENTS CHOOSE THE VIRTUAL OPTION, IT WILL HELP US DECREASE THE OVERALL SPREAD AND CERTAINLY DECREASE THE RISK OF SPREAD WITHIN OUR SCHOOLS.

THIS QUESTION IS KIND OF THE TEXAS TRIBUNE.

HOW DOES THE COUNTY GUARANTEEING THAT PEOPLE IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR CAN ACCESS VACCINATION IN THE EASY WAY? DISTRIBUTION PLACES ARE MANY TIMES MORE PRESENT IN WHITE AFFLUENT NEIGHBORHOODS AND LOW INCOME FAMILIES.

MANY TIMES ALSO HAVE TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGES.

WELL, WHEN WE LOOK AT, UM, WHERE WE SHOULD BE, UM, AS FAR AS, UM, OUR TESTING EFFORTS, UM, THAT WE'VE DONE THUS FAR, UM, AND ALSO, UM, TYPICALLY WHEN WE PROVIDE OUTREACH, UH, WE TYPICALLY LOOK AT, UM, WHAT IN AUSTIN, WE CALL IT THE EASTERN CRESCENT.

UM, AND THEN WE ALSO LOOK AT A FEW OTHER AREAS, UM, OUTSIDE OF THE EASTERN CRESCENT, BUT WE DEFINITELY CONSIDER ACCESS TO TRANSPORTATION WHEN WE ARE, UM, DEVELOPING OUR PLANS.

AND SO, UM, YOU KNOW, WE ALWAYS LEAD WITH AN EQUITY LENS AND SO IT WAS GOING TO BE IMPORTANT FOR US TO,

[00:40:01]

UM, BE VERY FLEXIBLE, UM, BEING IN LOCATIONS WHERE THERE IS HIGH POSITIVITY RATE, UM, ACCESS TO TRANSPORTATION.

UM, AND THEN, UM, WITH OUR TESTING, UM, WE'VE BEEN ABLE TO PROVIDE SOME AT HOME TESTING.

AND SO, UM, WE WOULD DEFINITELY WANT TO CONTINUE THAT, UH, ESPECIALLY FOR OUR ELDERLY AND DISABLED POPULATION, UM, SO THEY DON'T HAVE TO LEAVE HOME.

AND SO DOING THOSE TYPES OF MODIFICATIONS HAVE TYPICALLY WORKED VERY WELL FOR, UM, PEOPLE OF COLOR.

AND I'D JUST LIKE TO ADD THE MAP THAT DSA JUST PUBLISHED, DEMONSTRATES WHERE VACCINE PROVIDER SITES HAVE RECEIVED VACCINE.

UM, AND THAT REPRESENTS ABOUT 62 VACCINATORS, UH, VACCINE LOCATIONS.

THERE ARE OVER 350, UM, VACCINE SITES THAT HAVE BEEN ENROLLED, BUT WE ALSO KNOW THAT THOSE ARE GOING TO TRADITIONAL LOCATIONS THAT HAVE BEEN TRADITIONAL CLINICS.

AND WE KNOW PRIOR TO COVID, UM, THAT THIS HAS BEEN AN ISSUE OF ACCESS ACROSS OUR COMMUNITY, WHERE, UM, CLINICS ARE LOCATED.

WE HAVE PLANS IN PLACE TO BE MOBILIZING OUT INTO AREAS WHERE THERE IS NOT EXISTING ACCESS TO CLINICS, PROVIDING EASIER ACCESS FOR THOSE POPULATIONS OF COLOR WHO HAVE TRADITIONALLY NOT BEEN ABLE TO ACCESS THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM THAT WE CURRENTLY HAVE IN PLACE NOW.

SO THERE ARE THE ARE SPECIFIC STRATEGIC EFFORTS THAT WE ARE PUTTING IN PLACE NOW, SO THAT WE HAVE ENOUGH VACCINE TO MOBILIZE AND, AND SHARE WITH THE MASSES.

WE WILL BE ABLE TO GET TO LOCATIONS THAT ARE MUCH EASIER TO ACCESS, AND THAT ARE ACCOMMODATING ALL POPULATIONS WITHIN TRAVIS COUNTY.

HIS QUESTION IS FROM COOPERATING OUT THIS WEEK, WE ARE SUPPOSED TO HAVE A STATE SUPPLIED AND STAFF MOBILE INFUSION CENTER IN SOUTHEAST AUSTIN ADMINISTERING THEIR RECENTLY APPROVED MONOCLONAL ANTIBODY THERAPY.

CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE FDA GUIDELINES FOR ITS USE AND HOW IT'S USED MAY HELP OUTPATIENTS AND HOSPITALIZATIONS? UH, SO THE, UH, WE'RE, WE'RE GRATEFUL TO THE SUPPORT FROM THE STATE, THE TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT, UH, AND THEIR EFFORTS TO, TO PROVIDE US THAT ASSET.

IT'S GOING TO BE INCREDIBLY HELPFUL FOR US TO HELP, UH, PROVIDE THIS, UH, THIS THERAPY FOR THOSE INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE AT HIGH RISK FOR SEVERE DISEASE.

NOW, THOSE ARE INDIVIDUALS OVER THE AGE OF 65.

THOSE ARE INDIVIDUALS WITH UNDERLYING HEALTH CONDITIONS.

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF, UH, OF INDIVIDUALS WHO QUALIFY AND, UH, WE HAVE A SCREENING PROCESS THAT IS BEING IMPLEMENTED.

AND SO THAT WE CAN RECOMMEND FOLKS REFER FOLKS FOR THAT THERAPY AND A PARTICULARLY FOCUSED ON OUR POPULATIONS, UH, UH, FROM OUR COMMUNITIES OF COLOR AND LOW INCOME POPULATIONS WHO MAY NOT OTHERWISE HAVE ACCESS TO THAT THERAPY.

UH, THIS IS AN INFUSION, UH, WHICH MEANS THAT IT'S A, IT'S AN IB, WHICH HAS PLACED IT'S A MEDICATION, WHICH IS ADMINISTERED.

AND WHAT IT DOES IS IT JUMPSTARTS THAT THE BODY'S RESPONSE TO FIGHT OFF THE INFECTION.

UH, AND IT'S, UH, IT HAS BEEN SHOWN TO DECREASE THE NEED FOR HOSPITALIZATIONS.

AND OUR HOPE IS THAT WE CAN PROVIDE A REGULAR CYCLE OF INDIVIDUALS THROUGH THAT FACILITY, UH, SO THAT WE CAN PREVENT THOSE HOSPITALIZATIONS AND ALSO HELP TO BLUNT THE IMPACT, UH, ON THE SURGE THAT OUR HOSPITALS ARE, ARE HAVING NOW, UH, THE INDICATION THAT WE HAVE IN THE STATE IS THAT THAT FACILITY WILL BE STAFFED TODAY, AND THAT WILL BEGIN THE ROLLOUT PROCESS STARTING TO SCHEDULE PEOPLE IN THE FOLLOWING DAYS.

UH, AGAIN, OUR HOPE IS TO GET DOZENS OF PEOPLE THROUGH THERE A DAY, SO THAT WE CAN, WE CAN OFFER THAT TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE PATCHED.COM ASKS DESPITE THE STATE'S INTERVENTION AND HAVING THE HOLIDAY RESTAURANT CURFEW HALTED.

WELL, IT'S TAKING EFFECT ON NEW YEAR'S EVE YOU'LL HAVE MEASURABLE IMPACT ON CURBING THE SPREAD OF ILLNESS.

WELL, I, I THINK WE'LL SEE THE ANSWER TO THAT IN THE NEXT WEEK OR TWO.

UH, OUR HOPE IS THAT, UH, THE ACTIONS WERE ENOUGH TO AT LEAST BLUNT THE IMPACT ON NEW YEAR'S EVE, OR WE'RE AWARE THAT, THAT SOME STAYED OPEN, UH, SOME BUSINESSES DID NOT FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES.

WE HAVE VIOLATIONS, WHICH ARE PENDING.

UH, WE KNOW THAT PEOPLE STILL GATHERED OUTSIDE OF THOSE BUSINESSES.

UH, BUT I THINK WE'LL HAVE TO WAIT OVER THE NEXT WEEK OR TWO TO SEE WHAT THE REAL IMPACT IS.

KATIE YOU ASKS.

CAN WE GET MORE DETAILS ABOUT APH PLAN FOR PUBLISHING A SYSTEM FOR PEOPLE TO SIGN UP, TO GET THE VACCINE

[00:45:02]

TYPICALLY, UM, THE AREAS THAT HAVE SET UP THAT TYPE OF SYSTEM, UM, HAVE THE AWARENESS THAT THEY WERE GOING TO RECEIVE THE VACCINES, THE VACCINES WERE ALL IN THE WAY.

UM, AND SO, UM, WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A SYSTEM, UM, WHERE FOLKS WILL BE ABLE TO, UM, TO GO ONLINE, UM, AND TO REGISTER.

AND THE PROCESS WILL BE SIMILAR TO WHAT WE HAVE DONE, UM, USING THE AUSTIN SALESFORCE, UM, PLATFORM.

UM, AND THEN FOR THOSE THAT DON'T HAVE ACCESS, WE'LL BE ABLE TO GIVE US A CALL AND OUR FOLKS WILL REGISTER THEM.

AND THEN WE'LL LET THEM KNOW WHEN THEY CAN COME IN FOR THEIR VACCINE FOR AN APPOINTMENT.

WE WILL BE WORKING OFF OF APPOINTMENTS.

THIS QUESTION IS FROM THE AUSTIN AMERICAN STATESMAN, HOW ARE HEALTH OFFICIALS PLANNING TO INFORM AND EDUCATE THOSE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS ON VACCINES, OR EVEN GETTING BACK VACCINES TO THEM? UM, CURRENTLY, UM, WE, WE ESTABLISHED A PROCESS, UM, AT THE BEGINNING OF THE PANDEMIC.

UM, IT IS A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE CITY OF AUSTIN, UH, COMMUNITY CARE, UH, AND MEDICAL SCHOOL.

AND SO WHAT WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO IS, IS WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO SOME SURVEILLANCE TESTING FOR OUR HOMELESS, UM, INDIVIDUALS.

UM, AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO DO THAT, UM, WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE HOMELESS SERVICE PROVIDERS, UM, AS WELL, WE WILL, UM, USE THOSE VEHICLES AS WELL AS OUR OTHER OUTREACH TEAM, OUR HOST TEAM, UM, TO BE ABLE TO GET THE WORD OUT, UM, TO THEM IN THE PAST, WE'VE BEEN ABLE TO, UM, GO OUT IN THE COMMUNITY AND PROVIDE, UM, VACCINES TO FOLKS, UM, IN THE COMMUNITY.

AND SO, UM, THAT HAS BEEN A VERY SUCCESSFUL, UM, PROCESS IN THE PAST.

AND WE WILL REPLICATE THAT WITH THESE VACCINES WHEN WE HAVE ENOUGH, UH, VACCINE AVAILABLE, THIS IS THE FINAL QUESTION, AND IT'S FROM KUT.

WHAT IS APH HIS REACTION TO NOT GETTING ANY VACCINES IN A WEEK FOR ALLOTMENT FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICES? UH, THE DEPARTMENT, UM, DID RECEIVE SOME VACCINES, UM, AND THE WEEK FOUR ALLOTMENT.

UM, AND SO WHAT WE HAVE DONE IS WE HAVE RECEIVED THOSE VACCINES, UM, FOR OUR PATIENTS AND OUR REFUGEE CLINIC.

UM, AND WE'VE ALSO, UM, RECEIVE THE VACCINES, UM, AND OUR, UM, SHOTS FOR TOX CLINICS.

AND SO THEY WERE, UM, A VERY SMALL AMOUNT OF VACCINES.

AND SO OUR PLAN IS, IS TO GO AHEAD AND GET THOSE OUT TO OUR COMMUNITY, UM, USING OUR EXISTING CLIENTS.

THANK YOU FOR THAT RESPONSE.

AND THANK YOU, BETH.

SO BEFORE WE LEAVE, WE'D LIKE TO KNOW, UM, IF ANYONE HAS ANY CLOSING REMARKS STARTING WITH YOU, STEPHANIE, THANK YOU.

WE JUST HAVE TO REMIND FOLKS THAT WE ARE IN A SURGE.

UM, EVERY DAY OUR NUMBERS ARE INCREASING OUR HOSPITALIZATION RATES, OUR POSITIVITY RATES IN OUR COMMUNITY.

THEY ARE GOING HIGHER AND HIGHER EVERY DAY.

I KNOW FOLKS ARE VERY EXCITED ABOUT THE VACCINE AND WE ARE TOO, BUT WE'VE GOT TO BE PATIENT.

AND SO WHAT WE KNOW THAT HAS WORKED, WE'VE GOT TO CONTINUE TO WEAR OUR MASK, WATCH YOUR PHYSICAL DISTANCE AND WASH YOUR HANDS, STAY HOME.

IF YOU'RE NOT FEELING WELL, THAT IS GOING TO BE IMPORTANT.

AND EVEN FOR THOSE THAT HAVE RECEIVED THIS VACCINE, YOU MUST ALSO CONTINUE TO DO THIS AS WELL.

WE'VE GOT TO KEEP THIS COMMUNITY SAFE, AND IT'S GOING TO TAKE ALL OF US COMING TOGETHER TO DO IT.

THANK YOU.

I WILL TRANSITION OVER TO DR.

SCOTT.

AGAIN, WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO VACCINATE OUR WAY OUT OF THIS SURGE OR SMOKING THE HEART RUN VACCINE DISTRIBUTION, BUT WE DO NEED PEOPLE TO REDUCE THEIR RISK TODAY.

AND THAT MEANS MAKING THE SIMPLE DECISIONS TO STAY HOME, TO VIRTUALLY WORK OR HAVE YOUR CHILDREN GO TO SCHOOL VIRTUALLY IF POSSIBLE EVERY LITTLE BIT IS GOING TO HELP US REDUCE THE RISK IN OUR

[00:50:01]

COMMUNITY, DECREASE OUR POSITIVITY RATE AND HELP TO LIMIT THE RISK OF OUR HOSPITALS.

BEING OVERWEIGHT, VERY CLOSE TO THE STAGE WHERE OUR HOSPITALS ARE GOING TO RUN OUT OF BEDS.

AND IF THEY RUN OUT OF BEDS THAT NOT ONLY RUN OUT OF BEDS FOR COVID-19 PATIENTS, BUT THEY RAN OUT OF BEDS FOR EVERYBODY.

WE ARE SEEING EVIDENCE OF STRESS ON THE HOSPITALS ALREADY, AND WE NEED PEOPLE TO MAKE THOSE DECISIONS TO PROTECT THEMSELVES TODAY, THEMSELVES.

TODAY.

IF WE CAN DO THAT, WE CAN CHANGE THE PROJECTIONS.

WE CAN FLATTEN THE LIQUOR AS WE HAVE DONE EVERY OTHER TIME BEFORE.

AND WE CAN PUT OURSELVES IN A BETTER SITUATION, UH, TO, TO HAVE VACCINE AND TO SAVE LIVES IN OUR COMMUNITY.

AND I'M JUST GOING TO BE RE UH, REPEATING EXACTLY WHAT BOTH STEPHANIE AND DR.

S SCOTT HAVE MENTIONED ABOUT US RESPONDING TO THIS SURGE IN CASES AND HOSPITALIZATIONS WITHIN OUR COMMUNITY.

UH, AND IT'S GOING TO BE AGAIN, CRITICALLY IMPORTANT FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL WITHIN OUR COMMUNITY, EVEN OUR VISITORS IN OUR COMMUNITY TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE DOING THOSE THINGS TO PROTECT, UH, PEOPLE THEY MAY INTERACT WITH.

UH, AGAIN, WE'VE SAID IT OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

UH, THE ONLY WAY WE WILL BE ABLE TO FLATTEN THIS CURVE IS IF PEOPLE FOLLOW THE PREVENTIVE MEASURES THAT WE HAVE BEEN DISCUSSING FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME, AND THAT IS WASHING YOUR HANDS, COVERING YOUR FACE WITH A MASK AND MAKING SURE THAT YOUR MASK THAT YOU'RE WEARING IS WORN CORRECTLY SO THAT IT'S COVERING BOTH YOUR NOSE AND MOUTH, UH, AND THAT IT PROPERLY FITS MAKING SURE THAT YOU SOCIALLY DISTANCE, UH, YOU NEED TO ASSUME WE HAVE WIDESPREAD COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION OCCURRING.

IF YOU GO OUT AND ARE SHOPPING, UH, YOU WILL LIKELY ENCOUNTER SOMEBODY WHO IS COVID POSITIVE.

SO YOU NEED TO DO YOUR VERY BEST TO LIMIT YOUR ACTIVITIES TO ONLY THOSE THAT ARE ESSENTIAL, LIKE GROCERY SHOPPING, UM, AND DO IT, YOU KNOW, WITH A DESIGNATED, UH, HOUSEHOLD MEMBER.

UM, AND THEN, YOU KNOW, WE'RE ASKING YOU, UH, IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS OF COVID, UH, YOU KNOW, FEVER, COUGH, THOSE TYPES OF THINGS.

IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING SYMPTOMOLOGY THAT, OR YOU ARE, ARE SICK, YOU NEED TO STAY HOME AND ISOLATE AND PROTECT YOUR OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS WITHIN YOUR HOUSEHOLD.

AND I'LL TURN IT OVER TO CASSIE.

AND FINALLY, WE WANT TO ASSURE, WE ARE ADVOCATING WITH OUR LARGER HEALTHCARE SYSTEM TO GET MORE VACCINE.

WE KNOW IT'S BEEN SLOW, AND WE KNEW THAT IT WOULD BE A SLOW TRICKLE OF VACCINE IN THESE FIRST FEW WEEKS, BUT WE DO CONTINUE TO ASK FOR MORE.

AND WE'RE HOPING THAT WE CAN GET MORE IN THE COMING WEEK SO WE CAN EXPAND THE AMOUNT THAT WE PROVIDE TO THE LARGER POPULATION.

WE ARE READY TO HAVE THAT VACCINE.

WE HAVE PLANS IN PLACE.

WE HAVE PRACTICED THOSE PLANS.

WE HAVE WORKED THROUGH OUR INITIAL ALLOCATIONS, AND WE KNOW THAT WE CAN DISTRIBUTE THIS TO OUR BROAD POPULATION.

WE JUST NEED TO HAVE THE PRODUCT AVAILABLE WITH THAT.

WE'VE SEEN SO MANY THAT I'VE ALREADY SUFFERED AND ARE CURRENTLY SUFFERING FROM THIS DISEASE.

IT'S IMPORTANT THAT WE ARE INTENTIONAL ABOUT OUR DECISION-MAKING.

WE THINK ABOUT OURSELVES AND OUR COMMUNITY AND OUR FAMILIES IS A DECISION THAT WE'RE MAKING, GOING TO ENSURE THAT THEY'RE SAYING ENSURE THAT THEY'RE NOT AT RISK FOR CONTRACTING.

COVID-19 THINK ABOUT THOSE THINGS AS WE MOVE ALONG AND WE INTERACT WITH OTHERS, BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT YOUR ACTIVITIES, ENSURE THAT YOU'RE PRACTICING ALL THOSE SAFETY MEASURES TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU DON'T CONTRACT COVID, YOU DON'T SPREAD COVID TO SOMEONE WHO'S VULNERABLE WHO MAY SUFFER SEVERE DISEASE AND POSSIBLY COULD DIE.

WE ALL WANT TO GET THROUGH THIS.

WE DO HAVE THE TOOLS TO COMBAT THIS DISEASE.

SO AS WE MOVE THROUGH AND WE GET MORE VACCINE AVAILABLE, WE STILL HAVE TO STAY THE COURSE, KEEP FOCUSED ON HOW WE CAN PROTECT EACH OTHER, AND LET'S ALL WORK THROUGH TRYING TO BECOME A HEALTHY, HEALTHIER COMMUNITY.

THANK YOU.

THAT CONCLUDES OUR MEDIA AVAILABILITY FOR TODAY.

THANK YOU TO APH DIRECTOR.

STEPHANIE HAYDEN, DR.

MARK SCOTT, CHIEF EPIDEMIOLOGIST, JENNIFER SHED, CASSANDRA DAILY ON INTERIM APH, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR DISEASE PREVENTION, HEALTH PROMOTION DIVISION, AND OUR POOL REPORTER BETH SULLIVAN FROM AUSTIN CHRONICLE.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

HAVE A SAFE DAY.

.

* This transcript was compiled from uncorrected Speech-to-Text.