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[COVID-19: Press Q & A]

[00:00:09]

GOOD MORNING.

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

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

SPANISH INTERPRETATION IS AVAILABLE ON ATX IN THREE TO START DR.

DEZ MAR WALKS AUSTIN, TRAVIS COUNTY HEALTH AUTHORITY WILL FIRST SAY A FEW WORDS FOLLOWED BY INTERIM AUSTIN, PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR, ADRIAN STIRRUP.

THEN JANET PICHET AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH, CHIEF EPIDEMIOLOGIST FOLLOWED BY CASSANDRA DE LEON APH, CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER FOR DISEASE PREVENTION AND HEALTH PROMOTION DIVISION.

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

WALKS OVER TO YOU.

GOOD MORNING TODAY.

WE ARE HERE TO GIVE YOU AN UPDATE ON THE SITUATION WITH REGARDS TO COVID-19.

AND, UM, I START OFF WITH SOME STATISTICS.

UM, WE'VE HAD THE EARL IN DURING THE EARLY PART OF THIS WEEK.

UM, A DECLINE IN, UH, CASES THAT LOOKED HOPEFUL, BUT NOW IT LOOKS AS THOUGH WE'RE PLATEAUING.

WE HAVE A SEVEN DAY MOVING AVERAGE OF 55, UH, 537 INDIVIDUALS WITH COVID IN OUR HOSPITAL, 229 PEOPLE IN ICU, 159 ON VENTILATORS AS OF YESTERDAY.

AND THE SITUATION IN OUR ICU IS SUCH THAT WE'RE SEEING, UH, LONGER STAYS IN OUR ICU IS BECAUSE DELTA IS DIFFERENT.

IT CAUSES MORE SEVERE DISEASE.

IT, UH, CAUSED FOR PEOPLE THAT ARE UNVACCINATED.

UM, IT'S 10 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO CAUSE PEOPLE TO BECOME HOSPITALIZED, REQUIRING ICU CARE AND 10 TIMES MORE LIKELY AND UNVACCINATED PEOPLE TO CAUSE DEATH.

AND WE'VE SEEN MORE DEATHS RECENTLY.

WE'RE NOW SEEING THAT WE'VE EXCEEDED OUR ICU BED CAPACITY.

UM, WE STARTED OFF THIS EPIDEMIC OF PANDEMIC SHOWING THAT WE HAD THE CAPACITY FOR 200 IN OUR ICU.

WE'VE EXCEEDED THAT CAPACITY, WHICH MEANS THAT WE HAVE PEOPLE WHO NEED ICU CARE, WHO ARE NOT IN ICU.

UM, AND THEY'RE NOT BEING CARED FOR BY ICU NURSES BECAUSE WE ARE STRETCHING OUR NURSE NURSING STUFF TO A SITUATION THAT'S CAUSING, UM, SOME IMPACTS ON OUR NORMAL MEDICAL CARE.

IN OUR HOSPITALS.

WE HAVE PATIENTS IN OUR SURROUNDING COUNTIES WHO ARE STARTING TO HAVE TO WAIT TO BE TRANSFERRED FOR ROUTINE MEDICAL CARE.

UM, AT ONE POINT DURING THE EARLY PART OF THE WEEK, WE HAD OVER 20 FOLKS WAITING TO BE TRANSFERRED IN TO AUSTIN, TRAVIS COUNTY FOR CARE.

UM, FIVE OF THOSE WERE COVID PATIENTS AND THE REST WERE PEOPLE THAT NEEDED HELP WITH THINGS LIKE STROKES AND HEART ATTACKS.

SO WE'RE REACHING THAT POINT WHERE WE NEED TO LOOK AT OUR MASS CRITICAL GUIDANCE FOR TRIAGING PATIENTS AND ASSESSING WHO NEEDS TO HAVE THE CARE FIRST AND WHERE THEY NEED TO BE IN ORDER TO HAVE THAT CARE.

AND THAT IS THE SITUATION THAT WE CAN CHANGE AS A COMMUNITY, JUST AS WE MADE CHANGES BEFORE WE'VE BROUGHT OURSELVES DOWN FROM THE PEAK IN CASES A FEW WEEKS AGO TO THIS LEVEL OF 55, AND WE'RE CLOSE TO THAT STAGE FOUR THRESHOLD, AND WE CAN DO IT AGAIN BY CONTINUING TO DO WHAT WE KNOW WORKS, WEARING MASK, GETTING VACCINATED, STAYING HOME WHEN WE'RE SICK.

AND IF WE DO TEST POSITIVE, GETTING IN TOUCH WITH A HEALTHCARE PROVIDER AND SEEING IF WE'RE ELIGIBLE FOR MONOCLONAL ANTIBODY THERAPY, WE'VE GIVEN UP MANY, MANY INFUSIONS OF MONOCLONAL ANTIBODY THERAPY AT OUR REGIONAL INFUSION CENTER, AND THAT HAS MADE THE DIFFERENCE.

WE'VE HAD FEWER HOSPITALIZATIONS AS A RESULT.

SO I ASKED FOR OUR COMMUNITY TO REDOUBLE THEIR EFFORTS, GET ON YOUR PHONES, TEXT YOUR FRIENDS, NOT JUST IN AUSTIN, TRAVIS COUNTY, BUT IN SURROUNDING COUNTIES AND ASK THEM TO GO GET VACCINATED, ENCOURAGED PEOPLE TO WEAR A MASK.

WHEN YOU SEE SOMEONE WHO'S NOT WEARING MASKS, OFFER THEM ONE.

IF YOU'VE GOT ONE EXTRA IN YOUR PURSE OR YOUR BRIEFCASE, LET'S, LET'S DO WHAT WE KNOW WE CAN DO.

WE'VE GOTTEN THROUGH SEARCHES BEFORE WE CAN DO IT AGAIN.

THANK YOU, AUSTIN.

THANK YOU,

[00:05:01]

DR.

WACHS.

UM, THAT IS A GREAT REMINDER OF HOW THE COMMUNITY CAN DO THEIR PART TO GET US OUT OF THIS SURGE AND TO HELP, UM, GET US THROUGH THIS PANDEMIC AND AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH WILL CONTINUE TO DO AS FAR AS WE CONTINUE TO SUPPORT OPERATIONS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTY.

UM, FROM TESTING, WE HAVE, UH, TWO TESTING LOCATIONS.

WE CONTINUE TO OFFER AT-HOME TESTING FOR ANYONE WHO, UM, IS NOT ABLE TO GET OUT TO ONE OF OUR TESTING SITES.

UM, FOLKS CAN ACCESS THAT BY CALLING 3, 1, 1, WE CONTINUE TO SUPPORT OUR COMMUNITY BY PROVIDING, UH, IN FACILITY TESTING FOR LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES, HOMELESS SHELTERS, AND OTHER CONGREGATE LIVING SPACES.

AS PART OF OUR OPERATIONS, WE CONTINUE TO SUPPORT VACCINES.

WE HAVE OUR STATIC LOCATIONS THAT WE TALK ABOUT EVERY WEEK AND WE HAVE OUR MOBILE VACCINE PROGRAM.

THAT'S GOING OUT INTO COMMUNITY SPACES TO MAKE SURE THAT THERE IS, UM, EQUITABLE ACCESS TO VACCINES THROUGHOUT TRAVIS COUNTY.

AND THIS IS NOT WORK THAT WE DO ALONE.

WE HAVE THE PRIVILEGE OF PARTNERING WITH TRAVIS COUNTY AND THE COUNTY VACCINE COLLABORATIVE TO MAKE SURE THAT WE ARE, UM, IN EVERY SPACE THAT WE CAN POSSIBLY BE.

WE CONTINUE TO BE A PART OF THE EMERGENCY OPERATION CENTER, WORKING WITH OUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS TO LOOK AT THE, UM, SCOPE OF THE SYSTEM AND HOW WE AS A GOVERNMENTAL PARTNER CAN, UM, SUPPORT.

WE ARE CONTINUING TO REACH OUT TO OUR SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO PROVIDE THE LATEST SUPPORT AND GUIDANCE ON HOW TO KEEP OUR STUDENTS SAFE.

AND SO, UM, AS, AS DR.

WACHS, SO ELOQUENTLY SAID, AS WE ALL CONTINUE TO DO OUR PART, WE KNOW WHAT WORKS, WE'VE DONE IT BEFORE WE CAN GET OUT OF THIS SURGE.

AND WITH THAT, I'LL PASS IT TO JEN AND MICHELLE.

UH, GOOD MORNING, EVERYONE.

UH, YOU KNOW, AS DR WACHS MENTIONED, WE ARE STARTING TO SEE SOME VERY POSITIVE INDICATIONS INDICATORS IN OUR COMMUNITY THAT COVID IS AT LEAST, OR THIS SURGE IS BEGINNING TO, TO STABILIZE AND DECLINE.

UM, WE ARE SEEING DECREASES IN HOSPITAL EMISSIONS THAT ASIDE FROM THAT, UH, INCREASES IN ICU, UH, BUT WE ARE SEEING DEEPLY DECREASES IN HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS AND, UM, OUR CASE COUNTS FOR THE LAST FEW DAYS, UH, AS FAR AS CONFIRMED POSITIVE, UH, PCR CASES ARE, UH, AT A STABLE LEVEL.

WE'RE GONNA REPORT OUT TODAY THAT WE HAVE 100 JUST SHY OF 113,000 CASES OF COVID, UH, 340 OF THOSE NEW NEW CASES REPORTED TODAY, UH, WITH FOUR ADDITIONAL DEATHS FROM YESTERDAY.

SO OUR DEATH COUNT WILL STAND AT 1042, BUT ONE POSITIVE INDICATION THAT I TEND TO LOOK AT FROM OUR SPECIFIC TESTING, UH, IS THAT WE, I LIKE TO LOOK AT OUR TEST POSITIVITY RATE, UH, AS AN INDICATOR OF WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN OUR COMMUNITY.

UM, WITHIN THE TESTING THAT'S BEING CONDUCTED AT AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH, OUR CHEST POSITIVITY RATE HAS DECLINED DOWN TO JUST SHY OF 10%, WHICH IS A GOOD POSITIVE MOVEMENT IN THE DOWNWARD DIRECTION.

SO, UM, AS, AS DR WACHS ALSO MENTIONED, YOU KNOW, OUR, OUR, A MONOCLONAL ANTIBODY INFUSION CENTER, WHICH IS A REGIONAL ASSET THAT HAS BEEN PROVIDED TO US, THEY HAVE SEEN SINCE AUGUST 16TH, UM, 1,656 PATIENTS.

AND IT CONTINUES TO BE A HUGE ASSET TO OUR REGION AND REDUCING THE NUMBER OF SERIOUS ILLNESSES RELATED TO COVID-19 AND, UH, PREVENTION OF HOSPITALIZATIONS AS A RESULT.

SO YOU FEEL LIKE THAT IS A POSITIVE THING THAT'S HAPPENING.

UH, WE, WE CONTINUE TO SEE A DOWNWARD, UH, DECREASE IN DEMAND FOR TESTING IN OUR TESTING SITES AS WELL.

SO I'M HOPING THAT THESE ARE, UH, ARE GOOD INDICATIONS, BUT WHAT WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE, AND I'LL LET KASEY EXPAND ON THIS MORE IS THAT WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE AN INCREASE IN VACCINATION BECAUSE TO GET BEYOND THIS AND TO GET BEYOND THE VARIANTS THAT MAY EMERGE IN OUR FUTURE, UH, WE NEED TO KIND OF MAKE SURE EVERYBODY HAS ONBOARD THOSE ANTIBODIES THAT ARE GOING TO PROTECT THEM THE BEST AND VACCINATION IS THE SAFEST WAY TO DO THAT.

SO WITH THAT, I'LL TURN IT OVER TO CASSIE.

THANK YOU, JANET.

AND YES, JUST TO KIND OF REITERATE THAT, UM, THEME OF HOW A VACCINE IS SOMETHING THAT IS AN IMPORTANT TOOL FOR US TO WORK TOWARD AND, AND TO PROVIDE THROUGHOUT THE COMMUNITY, UH, NOTING THAT WE ARE MAKING GOOD STRIDES.

UM, AND, UH, AS A, AS A LARGE CITY AND COUNTY, WE ALL HAVE PRETTY GOOD VACCINE UPTAKE, UM, PARTICULARLY FOR FULLY VACCINATED, WE'RE AT 69%.

SO THAT'S A KEY INDICATOR.

WE HAD SET GOALS TO TRY

[00:10:01]

TO GET TO 70% BY SEPTEMBER 1ST.

AND WE WERE VERY, VERY CLOSE WHERE WE THINK WE CAN MAKE THE GREATEST STRIDES IN INCREASING VACCINE EFFORTS ARE AMONG THOSE THAT ARE BETWEEN 12 AND 15 AND THE 16 TO, UM, 64 POPULATION.

WE SEE THAT THAT'S PROBABLY WHERE OUR LARGEST GAPS ARE LAGGING BEHIND IN REACHING THAT 70% THAT 12 TO 15 YEAR OLD AGE RANGE IS SITTING AT 56% FULLY VACCINATED.

SO THAT'S 14 PERCENTAGE POINTS AWAY FROM THAT 70%, THE LARGER POPULATION ARE YOUNG ADULTS WORKING ADULTS.

THOSE THAT ARE MOST OUT IN POPULATION MOST MOVING AROUND, UH, MOST CHANCE OF, UH, POTENTIALLY SPREADING AND CONTRACTING COVID-19 ARE SITTING AT 50% FULLY VACCINATED.

SO THERE'S A LOT OF WORK THAT CAN BE DONE THERE.

UM, AND ALSO PUBLIC HEALTH SCANS READY.

WE ARE OFFERING THIS WEEK ALONE, 27 DIFFERENT LOCATIONS THAT WE'RE GOING TO BE IN.

UM, WE'RE SUPPORTING BUSINESSES IF THEY ASK FOR US TO PROVIDE CLINICS.

UM, AND THERE'S ALSO MANY, MANY OTHER ACCESS POINTS, UH, FOR, UH, INDIVIDUALS TO, TO ACCESS VACCINE.

SO IF YOU'RE IN THAT AGE RANGE AND YOU WANT TO, UM, DO YOUR, GET THAT PROTECTION, UM, THERE'S A LOT OF OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU TO, TO GET VACCINATED.

AND THESE ARE THE KEYS AND TOOLS FOR US IN THE FUTURE, UH, TO GET BACK TO BEING ABLE TO DO THE THINGS THAT WE WANT TO DO WITHOUT, UM, WITHOUT THAT CONCERN, KNOWING THAT YOU HAVE THAT PROTECTION, KNOWING THAT WE CAN MOVE AROUND THE, UH, SOCIETY, BEING ABLE TO DO THESE DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES THAT WE WANT TO DO, HAVING THAT VACCINE, UH, GIVES US ALL THAT LAYER OF PROTECTION.

AND WITH THAT, I'LL OPEN THIS UP FOR QUESTIONS.

OKAY.

THANK YOU, CASSIE.

AT THIS TIME, WE WILL OPEN IT UP TO OUR POOL REPORTER HANNAH RUTGER WITH KVU ANA.

OKAY.

SO IT SEEMS LIKE HER AUDIO IS OUT.

I'LL GET STARTED FOR US.

UM, THIS FIRST QUESTION IS FROM KVU IT SAYS WITH ACL AROUND THE CORNER, ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH THE COVID SAFETY MEASURES THAT THE FESTIVAL HAS ESTABLISHED? I'LL START THIS OFF.

UM, WE ARE LOOKING AT THE MITIGATION EFFORTS THAT WE KNOW ARE GOING TO WORK TO HELP CONDUCT EVENTS SAFELY, AND THAT INCLUDES WEARING MASKS SOCIALLY DISTANCING, AND, UM, MAKING SURE THAT AS MANY PEOPLE AS WE CAN POSSIBLY GET VACCINATED, OUR COMMUNITY ARE VACCINATED.

AND I'LL PASS THIS OVER TO DIRECTOR STERN TO HER TO GO INTO THE OPERATIONS PART OF THIS QUESTION.

THANK YOU, DR.

WATSON, I THINK HE COVERED IT RIGHT.

WELL, THE DEPARTMENT CONTINUES TO WORK WITH THE AUSTIN CENTER FOR EVENTS TO UPDATE OUR HEALTH AND SAFETY GUIDANCE.

AND THAT TEAM IS DOING AN AWESOME JOB OF CONNECTING WITH EVENT ORGANIZERS, EXPLAINING THE PROTOCOLS AND MAKING SURE THAT WE CAN PROVIDE AS MUCH SUPPORT AS POSSIBLE, UM, AS A CITY TO OUR EVENT ORGANIZERS.

SO WE CAN HELP, UM, AUSTIN GIVE BACK, UH, TO, TO SOME SENSE OF NORMALCY WITH RESPECT TO OUR FESTIVAL SEASON.

OKAY, THANK YOU.

THE NEXT QUESTION IS FROM K X A N IF THE AUSTIN CENTER FOR ADVANCED IS NOW REQUIRING TESTING 72 HOURS IN ADVANCE OF LARGE EVENTS, REGARDLESS OF VACCINATION STATUS WILL TESTING BE OFFERED AT ACL AND ALL THOSE CONCERNS ABOUT TESTING AND LAB CAPACITY, UM, AROUND THAT TIME.

AND SO, UM, I'LL START, UM, AT THIS CURRENT TIME, THE HEALTH AND SAFETY GUIDELINES ARE RECOMMENDING THAT EVENT.

ORGANIZERS ASK FOR PROOF OF A NEGATIVE TEST WITHIN 72 HOURS OF THE EVENT.

OF COURSE, UM, A PATRON HAS THE OPTION OF OPTING OUT OF TESTING BY SHOWING PROOF OF VACCINATION, UM, WITH RESPECT TO PROVIDING TESTING OPTIONS AT ACL, UH, JUST DUE TO THE SIZE OF THE EVENT, THAT WOULDN'T BE AN EFFICIENT PRACTICE.

WE ENCOURAGE PATRONS TO GET THE TEST, UM, AT LEAST 72 HOURS BEFORE IF YOU, IF YOU CAN GET A RAPID TEST THAT SHOWS 24 HOURS PRIOR TO SHOW, AND NOT THAT YOU'RE COVID FREE, THAT WOULD WORK TOO.

OKAY.

NEXT QUESTION.

YOU MENTIONED BEFORE THE SURROUNDING COUNTIES HAVE LOWER VACCINATION RATES THEN TRAVIS COUNTY, BUT DEPEND ON AUSTIN HOSPITAL SYSTEMS. HOW IS APH WORKING WITH SURROUNDING COUNTIES TO IMPROVE VACCINATION RATES? THERE I'LL START,

[00:15:01]

UM, AWESOME PUBLIC HEALTH WORKS, UM, IN CONJUNCTION WITH OUR, UM, PARTNERS.

UM, AND THAT'S A REGIONAL APPROACH.

WE DON'T ONLY JUST LOOK AT TRAVIS COUNTY, BUT WE HAVE PARTNERSHIPS ACROSS THE ENTIRE REGION.

UM, WE PARTNER WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICES, THEIR REGIONAL OFFICE, AND THE HEALTH AUTHORITIES ACROSS THE OTHER COUNTIES, UH, THROUGH OUR CENTRAL TEXAS, UM, VACCINE COALITION TO HAT SET STRATEGIES THAT WE ALL HAVE CONSENSUS ON HOW WE'RE GOING TO PRIORITIZE AND PROVIDE VACCINE AND MAKE SURE THAT WE HAVE EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION SO THAT WE ARE ABLE TO, UM, ADDRESS THIS PANDEMIC, UM, FROM A REGIONAL PERSPECTIVE, NOTING THAT THE VIRUS HAS A NO COUNTY BOUNDARY.

SO WE REALLY TRY TO MAKE SURE THAT WE ARE, UM, SOLID IN OUR MESSAGING AND OUR APPROACH.

UM, SO MOST OF THE MEDIA THAT IS PRODUCED HERE IN TRAVIS COUNTY AFFECTS THE ENTIRE REGION.

AND SO WE WANT TO BE COGNIZANT OF WHAT ARE THOSE ISSUES AND NEEDS, UH, NOT JUST FOR OUR RESIDENTS, BUT FOR RESIDENTS THAT WOULD ALL BE SEEING AND HEARING THIS INFORMATION.

UM, WE ALSO KNOW THAT SOME OF OUR PARTNERS WITHIN TRAVIS COUNTY ARE ALSO SERVING THOSE OTHER COUNTIES, AND WE KNOW THAT THE COUNTIES, THOSE OTHER HEALTH AUTHORITIES ARE COGNIZANT OF THEIR NEEDS AND HAVE THEIR OWN VACCINE OPERATIONS THAT THEY'RE MANAGING.

UM, TRAVIS COUNTY AND OPERATIONS THAT AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH MANAGES IS AVAILABLE FOR ANYONE WHO COMES INTO TRAVIS COUNTY, REGARDLESS OF YOUR COUNTY RESIDENTS.

YOU CAN ALSO GET VACCINATED FROM OUR LOCATIONS.

SO IF YOU WORK IN TRAVIS COUNTY, BUT YOU LIVE IN CALDWELL OR BACKDROP OR HAYES, WILLIAMSON, ANY OF THOSE SURROUNDING COUNTIES, YOU CAN GET VACCINATED HERE IN TRAVIS COUNTY AS WELL.

SO WE LOOK AT ALL THOSE OPTIONS TO MAKE SURE THE ACCESS IS NOT AN ISSUE AND THAT EVERYONE IN THE, IN THE, ACROSS THE REGION IS, UH, WE'RE ALL ON THE SAME PAGE.

AND, UM, WE'RE USING THE SAME PLAYBOOK TO MAKE SURE THAT EVERYONE HAS ACCESS TO VACCINE AND, AND WE SUPPORT EACH OTHER THROUGHOUT OUR, ALL OF OUR OPERATIONS.

AND I JUST LIKE TO ADD AS WELL, THAT WINTER'S ON THE WAY WE'RE ALREADY SEEING SOME FLU CASES IN OUR REGION.

AND SO WHEN WE'RE THINKING ABOUT VACCINATIONS, WE'RE NOT JUST TALKING ABOUT COVID-19 VACCINATIONS.

WE WANT PEOPLE TO GET OUT THERE AND GET THEIR VACCINATE VACCINE AS WELL.

UM, WE ALREADY HAVE STRESS ON OUR HOSPITAL SYSTEM, UM, AS A RESULT OF THE COVID CASES THAT WE'RE SEEING FROM THIS DELTA VARIANT, AND WE NEED TO GET VACCINE, UM, UH, FOR PEOPLE AS WELL FOR FLU PROTECTION.

AND JUST AS WE USED MASKING LAST YEAR, AND WE'VE PROTECTED OURSELVES FROM DEVELOPING COVID-19.

UM, WE ALSO KNOW THAT WITH USING MASS LAST YEAR, WE WERE ABLE TO DECREASE THE NUMBER OF FLU CASES AND IN ANY GIVEN YEAR, WHEN COVID IS NOT A PROBLEM, FLU HAS BEEN A PROBLEM.

AND WE'VE HAD PEOPLE WAITING IN EMERGENCY ROOMS AND HOSPITALS AND SURROUNDING COUNTIES TO BE HOSPITALIZED HERE.

AND AT THIS POINT WE DO NOT HAVE THE CAPACITY TO TAKE ON, UM, THAT AS WELL AS COVID.

SO IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT THAT EVERYBODY GET THE VACCINES FOR BOTH COVID AND FOR THE FLU.

THANK YOU, DR.

WACHS, AS A REMINDER PANEL MEMBERS, REMEMBER THAT WE DO HAVE SPANISH INTERPRETATION, SO PLEASE SLOW YOUR RESPONSES DOWN.

THANK YOU, HANNAH.

HI, HAPPY FRIDAY.

ALL SORRY.

I POPPED OUT FOR A SECOND.

THIS NEXT QUESTION IS FROM CO-OP RADIO.

IT SAYS, HOW HAS THE EFFICIENCY OF THE VACCINES OVER TIME BEING TESTED AND VERIFIED, THE VACCINES ARE BEING MONITORED BY LOCAL STATE AND FEDERAL DEPARTMENTS OF HEALTH TO DETERMINE THEIR EFFICACY.

AND THAT IS SOMETHING THAT'S AN ONGOING DISCUSSION AT THE FDA, AND PARTICULARLY WITH THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON IMMUNIZATION PRACTICES.

AND THE NEXT QUESTION IS FROM COMMUNITY IMPACT, IT SAYS, IS HERD IMMUNITY STILL A MEANINGFUL GOAL FOR THE AUSTIN COMMUNITY OR, OR HAS AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH MOVE PAST THE IDEA THAT A CERTAIN VACCINATION THRESHOLD WILL DAMPEN THE SPREAD OF COVID-19? NO, WE ARE STILL LOOKING AT HERD IMMUNITY AS SOMETHING THAT IS ACHIEVABLE AND DESIRABLE.

UM, AS YOU KNOW, WE NOW HAVE THE DELTA VARIANT.

IT IS MORE SERIOUS THAN THE TYPE OF DISEASE PROGRESSION AND UNVACCINATED INDIVIDUALS.

SO WE OF COURSE ARE ENCOURAGING EVERYBODY WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO GO AND GET VACCINATED TO PROTECT THEMSELVES.

AND FOR ALL OF THOSE TO WEAR A MASK, WHEN WE'RE IN CROWDED SITUATIONS WHERE WE'RE WITH PEOPLE THAT WE DON'T LOOK WITH, UM, PARTICULARLY IN DOORS, BUT ALSO IN AN OUTDOOR SETTING, IF IT'S A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN'T ACHIEVE A SOCIAL DISTANCING MASKING AS ADVISE

[00:20:07]

AND LET'S SEE THIS NEXT ONE, IT SAYS, WHAT IS THE LIKELIHOOD THAT ACL WILL BE CANCELED THIS YEAR BECAUSE OF CORONAVIRUS SPREAD? WHAT IS AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH AND OR DR.

WACHS ROLE IN MAKING THAT DECISION? UM, THE, I LAUGH BECAUSE THE VIRUSES IS AN EVER EVOLVING SITUATION.

YOU CAN GO TO BED ON A FRIDAY NIGHT AND THINKING THAT WE'RE ON THIS NEW TRAJECTORY TO STAGE FOUR AND WAKE UP ON A MONDAY AND FIND OUT THAT SOMETHING HAPPENED OVER THE WEEKEND.

AND THOSE PROJECTIONS ARE SAYS THAT IT'S GOING TO TAKE US A LITTLE BIT LONGER.

SO THAT BEING SAID, WE ARE CONTINUING TO WATCH THE SITUATIONS WITH OUR CASE COUNT, AS WELL AS THE SITUATION WITH OUR HOSPITALS.

AND, UM, WE ARE GOING TO PROVIDE AS MUCH GUIDANCE AS WE CAN TO THE ORGANIZERS OF THAT FESTIVAL ABOUT WHETHER IT'S NOT WHETHER OR NOT IT'S SAFE, UM, TO PROCEED.

THEY HAVE BEEN A GREAT PARTNER IN EVERYTHING THAT WE'VE ASKED THEM TO DO IN TERMS OF THE BEST METHODS OF MITIGATION THAT ARE POSSIBLY ALLOWED.

UM, THEY'RE, THEY'RE WILLING TO DO.

I THINK IT'S ALSO A QUESTION FOR THE COMMUNITY.

HOW BAD DO WE WANT ACO? PART OF THAT DECISION IS IN THE HANDS AND THE ACTIONS THAT WE CHOOSE TO TAKE UP TO THE EVENT.

WE HAVE THE CONTROL OVER WHETHER OR NOT WE GET TO STAGE FOUR OR EVEN A LOWER STAGE BY THAT TIME.

AND HOW CAN WE DO THAT? WE WEAR OUR MASKS, WE STAY HOME.

IF WE ARE SICK, WE USE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO SOCIALLY DISTANCE AND WE GO GET THAT VACCINE.

UM, DR.

WACHS, I DON'T KNOW IF YOU WANTED TO ADD ANYTHING ELSE ONTO THAT.

NO, THE DIRECTOR SYRUP, I THINK YOU COVERED IT.

WELL, UM, ACL IS A PART OF THE FABRIC OF AUSTIN AND IT REALLY IS UP TO THE COMMUNITY.

DO WE WANT TO HEAR THE MUSIC AGAIN? IF WE DO, WE NEED TO WEAR A MASK, GET VACCINATED, STAY HOME, IF WE'RE SICK AND PROTECT OUR HOSPITAL SYSTEM.

AND THIS NEXT QUESTION IS FROM CBS AUSTIN.

IT SAYS TODAY THE FDA IS MEETING TO DISCUSS WHETHER TO APPROVE THE BOOSTER SHOT.

CAN YOU GO INTO MORE DETAIL ABOUT HOW THE CITY PLANS TO ADMINISTER BOOSTERS? HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE BEING HIRED? HOW MANY NEW SITES AND WHAT'S THE MESSAGING LIKE? YEAH.

I'M HAPPY TO, UM, RESPOND.

UM, WE ARE DEVELOPING AND PLANNING FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF BOOSTERS, UM, AND WE'RE READY.

UH, WHEN FDA MAKES THE DECISIONS, DEPENDING ON WHAT THE DECISION IS TO, TO RESPOND ACCORDINGLY, WE ARE ADDING SOME ADDITIONAL SCIENCE TO BE ABLE TO ANTICIPATE INCREASED DEMAND FROM AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH.

BUT WE ALSO ARE NOTING THAT OUR VACCINE DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM IS MUCH, MUCH LARGER THAN WHEN WE PREVIOUSLY, UM, WHEN WE INITIALLY, UH, GAVE, HAD VACCINES TO PROVIDE TO THE COMMUNITY BACK IN JANUARY.

AND SO WE ARE LOOKING AT, AND LOOKING TO OUR LARGER PARTNERSHIPS TO MAKE SURE THAT MANY PEOPLE HAVE OPTIONS ACROSS THE COMMUNITY.

UM, AND THAT WE ARE ANTICIPATING THAT WE HAVE VACCINE CAPABILITY FOR, FOR ANYONE WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR A BOOSTER THAT THEY CAN RECEIVE IT AT AT THE TIME THAT THEY'RE AVAILABLE, BUT THEY NEED TO.

UM, BUT YES, WE ARE, UH, WE ARE ADDING NEW SITES, UM, AND WE ARE ANTICIPATING NEEDING MORE STATIC SITES, MEANING, UM, LIKE BRICK AND MORTAR LOCATIONS, BUT ALSO ANTICIPATING NEEDING TO HAVE, UH, MORE MOBILE OPTIONS AS WELL, JUST TO MEET THAT DEMAND THAT THEIR NEEDS AND DEMAND.

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT REGARDLESS OF THE BOOSTER STRATEGY, UM, AND REGARDLESS OF THE BOOSTER RECOMMENDATIONS COMING DOWN THE PRIORITY STILL HAS GOT TO BE ON FOCUSING ON THOSE WHO ARE UNVACCINATED AND ARE NOT FULLY VACCINATED.

UM, WE HAVE PLANS TO MAKE SURE THAT WE CAN INTEGRATE ALL OF THESE THINGS TOGETHER AND TO CONTINUE THAT FOCUS ON INCREASING THAT LEVEL OF PROTECTION FOR EVERYONE IN OUR COMMUNITY.

AND THIS NEXT ONE IS FROM UNIVISION.

IT SAYS ATTORNEY GENERAL, KEN PAXTON STARTED SUING SCHOOL DISTRICTS WHO MANDATE FACE COVERINGS.

IF OUR NUMBERS CONTINUE TO DROP, DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE SAFE FOR STUDENTS TO ATTEND CLASSES WITHOUT ONE, AS LONG AS WE ARE NOT ABLE TO VACCINATE CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 12, TO PROTECT THEM FROM GETTING ILL FROM AND DEVELOPING COVID-19, IT IS GOING TO BE EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT WE STOP THE SPREAD OF COVID-19 BY WEARING MASKS AND BY VACCINATING EVERYONE WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR VACCINE 12 YEARS AND OLDER, SO THAT WE CAN PROTECT OUR YOUNGEST IN OUR COMMUNITY.

AND THIS NEXT ONE IS FROM TELEMUNDO.

IT SAYS THE AUSTIN LATINO COALITION IS CRITICAL OF APH IS RESPONSE TO GET MINORITY COMMUNITIES VACCINATED.

[00:25:01]

ARE THERE PLANS TO INCREASE REESE EFFORTS? AND HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT CONVINCING THOSE WHO WERE HESITANT TO GET A POSSIBLE THIRD SHOT? FIRST OF ALL, I'D LIKE TO SAY, I TRULY APPRECIATE THE ADVOCACY OF THE AUSTIN LATINO COALITION AND OUR OTHER BOOTS ON THE GROUND ORGANIZATIONS, UM, TO GIVE A VOICE TO COMMUNITIES THAT HAVE LONG BEEN HISTORICALLY MARGINALIZED AND UNDERSERVED BY OUR COMMUNITY, UM, IRON SHARPENS IRON, UM, EVERY TIME WE GET FEEDBACK ABOUT AN UNINTENTIONAL CONSEQUENCES AND COMMUNITY, AS A RESULT OF AN OPERATIONAL DIRECTIVE, WE ARE QUICK TO COURSE CORRECT EXAMPLES OF THAT HAVE BEEN MAKING SURE THAT OUR PLATFORMS ARE AVAILABLE IN A VARIETY OF LANGUAGES.

WE STOOD UP THE EQUITY LINE TO MAKE SURE THAT RESIDENTS THAT DIDN'T HAVE READY ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY CAN, UH, SCHEDULE THEIR APPOINTMENTS.

WE'VE NEVER REQUIRED PAYMENT OR IDENTIFICATION AT ANY OF OUR LOCATIONS, WHETHER FOR TESTING OR FOR VACCINATION.

AND NOW WE'RE AT A POINT WHERE YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE TO CALL ANYBODY OR TURN ON YOUR COMPUTER.

YOU CAN WALK UP AND SAY TODAY, I WANT MY SHOT.

NOT ONLY WHEN WE WERE ABLE TO MOVE FROM THE HUB DESIGNATION, WE MOVED INTO OUR NORMAL SPACE AS THE PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT, AND WE WERE IN PLACES AND SPACES.

AND WE'LL CONTINUE TO BE, TO MAKE SURE THAT COMMUNITIES IN, IN THE VARIETY OF ZIP CODES THAT WE KNOW ARE SUFFERING DISPARATE OUTCOMES DUE TO COVID HAVE ACCESS TO VACCINES.

AND IT'S NOT ONLY BEING THERE WITH VACCINES.

WE HAVE TEAMS THAT ARE OUT PROVIDING INFORMATION AND EDUCATION TO HELP PEOPLE MAKE INFORMED CHOICES.

UM, WE CONTINUE TO PROMOTE ALL OF THE SERVICE THAT WE HAVE AVAILABLE ON A VARIETY OF MEDIA PLATFORMS. WE'VE INVESTED IN GRASSROOTS ORGANIZATIONS, UNDERSTANDING THAT SOMETIMES IT CAN BE US THAT'S THE FACE.

AND IF THERE ARE PARTNERS WHO ARE BETTER SUITED TO DO THIS WORK, THEN WE HAVE RESOURCE.

THEN NOT ONLY WITH DOLLARS, BUT ALSO INFORMATION AND MATERIALS SO THAT THEY CAN SPREAD THE WORD IN COMMUNITY.

UM, AS A RESULT OF THE RECENT BUDGET, WE WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO HIRE MORE COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS THAT CAN BE IN THE FIELD, HELPING US WITH OUR VACCINE EFFORTS.

AND THEN IN THE SPIRIT OF THE CHU COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKER MODEL, THESE WILL BE PEOPLE WHO ARE FROM THE COMMUNITY WHO LIVE IN THE COMMUNITY AND HAVE THAT LIVED EXPERIENCE.

AND THEREFORE AT TIMES BETTER SUITED TO HELP SOME, SOMEONE TO HELP SOMEONE MAKE A PERSONAL, UM, DECISION ABOUT VACCINE INDICATE THAT WE'RE AT A POINT WHERE ACCESS IS NOT THE ISSUE IT'S IDEOLOGY.

SO WHAT ARE THOSE THINGS? WHAT ARE THOSE CONVERSATIONS THAT WE NEED TO HAVE WITH COMMUNITY TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY FEEL CONFIDENT ABOUT ACCEPTING VACCINE? AND SO, UM, I KNOW THAT DR WACHS AND MEMBERS OF THIS TEAM, WE'VE BEEN TO DIFFERENT SCHOOL BOARD MEETINGS.

WE'VE BEEN TO DIFFERENT CHURCH MEETINGS.

WE'VE BEEN ON FACEBOOK, WHATEVER WE NEED TO DO TO CONTINUE TO PROVIDE THAT INFORMATION WE WILL DO.

SO.

AND I JUST WANT TO ADD ON, UM, ALSO PUBLIC HEALTH IS ONE PLAYER IN THIS ENTIRE WORK.

UM, WE'VE ALSO ENSURED THAT WE ENGAGE ALL A WHOLE HOST OF PARTNERS, INCLUDING THE, UM, AUSTIN LATINO COALITION TO HELP GUIDE AND PROVIDE INSIGHT INTO HOW WE CAN BETTER MEET PEOPLE'S NEEDS.

THIS IS AUSTIN, PUBLIC HEALTH CANNOT DO THIS ALONE.

AND IT IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL OF US THAT ARE COMMUNITY ADVOCATES AND INFLUENCERS TO USE THAT PLATFORM TO HELP ADVOCATE AND HELP OUR COMMUNITY AND LIFT THEM UP SO THAT THEY CAN WORK THROUGH THE CLUTTER OF ALL OF THE MYTHS THAT ARE OUT THERE ABOUT VACCINES, REALLY SPEAK TO WHAT, WHAT DOES MOTIVATE THEM, UH, SO THAT, SO THAT WE CAN MAKE SURE THAT WE'RE PROTECTED.

UM, WE ARE HAVING THESE CONVERSATIONS WITHIN OUR OWN FAMILIES.

WE KNOW THE STRUGGLE, WE KNOW WHERE THAT'S COMING FROM, AND WE'RE TRYING TO ADDRESS THOSE ALL OF US AT A PERSONAL LEVEL.

AND WE KNOW THAT EVERYONE ELSE IN THE COMMUNITY.

SO I REALLY ENCOURAGE THOSE THAT ARE INFLUENCERS THAT REPRESENT THOSE COMMUNITIES ARE USING THAT PLATFORM TO HELP ENGAGE AND MOTIVATE THE COMMUNITY, TO MAKE THOSE DECISIONS Y'ALL ARE AWESOME.

THIS NEXT QUESTION IS FROM KVU IT SAYS HAAS HOSPITALIZATIONS ARE GOING DOWN, BUT CRITICAL CARE PATIENTS ARE STILL HIGH.

WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGY TO HELP WITH THAT? WE ARE IN CONSTANT CONSTANT COMMUNICATION WITH THE HOSPITAL SYSTEMS AND ELECTED OFFICIALS AND PROVIDERS, NOT ONLY IN AUSTIN, TRAVIS COUNTY, BUT IN SURROUNDING COUNTIES TO COORDINATE CARE.

UM, AS I MENTIONED EARLIER, OUR ICU'S ARE STRETCHED.

THEN WE HAVE

[00:30:01]

PEOPLE IN NON-TRADITIONAL ICU SETTINGS BEING CARED FOR BY NON ICU NURSES, WHICH IS NOT IDEAL.

WE HAVE PEOPLE WHO NEED ROUTINE MEDICAL CARE, UM, ALL OVER OUR, UH, REGION.

AND IT'S IMPORTANT THAT WE, AS A COMMUNITY DOUBLED DOWN ON OUR EFFORTS TO STOP THE SPREAD OF COVID-19, THE UNINVITE VACCINATED INDIVIDUALS IN OUR COMMUNITIES, WE REALLY NEED TO REACH OUT TO THEM AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO BE VACCINATED.

THEY'RE FAR MORE LIKELY TO HAVE SEVERE ILLNESS.

WE'RE SEEING YOUNGER INDIVIDUALS IN HOSPITAL, MOTHERS AND FATHERS GETTING SICK AND SUCCUMBING TO THE DISEASE, UM, PREGNANT WOMEN, HAVING CHILDREN THAT THEY'RE NOT SEEING BECAUSE THEY END UP ON LIFE SUPPORT BECAUSE THEY HAVE COVID-19.

IT IS CRITICAL THAT WE REDOUBLE OUR EFFORTS AND CONTINUE TO DO WHAT WE KNOW TO DO TO STOP THE SPREAD OF COVID-19.

AND WE IN THE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY WILL CONTINUE TO SHOW UP AND WORK TOGETHER TO PROVIDE CARE AND DO IT IN A SAFE, EQUITABLE MANNER.

BUT IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT THAT OUR, OUR COMMUNITY UNDERSTANDS NOW'S THE TIME THE VACCINE WE'VE BEEN BLESSED WITH IS SAY, YOU GO GET IT.

AND I'LL ADD ONTO THAT.

IT'S THIS IS GOING TO TAKE A COLLECTIVE EFFORT OF OUR COMMUNITY.

AS WE'VE BEEN SAYING FOR MONTHS AND MONTHS NOW, 20 MONTHS TO BE EXACT, UH, WE'RE ALMOST HITTING THE TWO YEAR MARK HERE, BUT IF YOU ARE SICK AND HAVE SYMPTOMOLOGY THAT IS SIMILAR TO COVID LIKE ILLNESS, OR EVEN FLU LIKE ILLNESS, YOU NEED TO STAY HOME AND YOU NEED TO ISOLATE AND PROTECT YOURSELF FROM OTHER, YOU NEED TO PROTECT OTHER PEOPLE FROM ME.

YOU NEED TO, IF YOU GO OUT, YOU NEED, AND YOU'RE NOT VACCINATED.

PLEASE WEAR A MASK.

UH, YOU KNOW, BUT OUR BEST AS DR.

WATSON SAID, AND WE'VE BEEN SAYING THE SAME THING.

I MEAN, THE ONLY TIME OUR MESSAGE HAS CHANGED IN THE LAST 20 MONTHS HAS BEEN WHEN VACCINE CAME ON BOARD IN JANUARY, AND WE SAID, NOW'S THE TIME TO GET VACCINATED.

AND WE'RE STILL SAYING, NOW'S THE TIME TO GET BACK TO THEM.

HEY, DID YOU NEED TO GET VACCINATED? YOU NEED TO PROTECT YOUR LOVED ONES.

IF YOU KNOW SOMEBODY WHO'S NOT VACCINATED, PLEASE BY ALL MEANS ENCOURAGE THEM TO GET VACCINATED.

BUT, UH, YOU KNOW, IT, IF YOU CAN PROTECT YOURSELF, YOU CAN'T PROTECT YOUR LOVED ONES BY DOING ALL OF THESE, BOTH NON-PHARMACEUTICAL INTERVENTIONS AND PHARMACEUTICAL INTERVENTIONS RIGHT NOW, UH, IT'S THE BEST WAY TO GET US BACK DOWN AND CONTINUE TO DRIVE OUR CASE.

COUNT DOWN.

THIS NEXT QUESTION IS FROM TXA.

IT SAYS TO WHAT EXTENT ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT PEOPLE TRAVELING TO AUSTIN FOR ACL AND A GATHERING THEY COULD BE DOING OUTSIDE OF THE FESTIVAL AND SAY BARS AND RESTAURANTS, THE ORGANIZERS ARE PUTTING IN PLACE MITIGATION STRATEGIES THAT WERE USED AT LOLLAPALOOZA IN CHICAGO.

PEOPLE ARE EXPECTED TO BE, UM, EITHER VACCINATED OR HAVE A NEGATIVE TEST.

AND AS A RESULT OF THAT, UM, THAT PROVIDES A LEVEL OF SAFETY AND DECREASE RISK THAT, UM, WE ARE GOING TO BE LOOKING AT AS WE MAKE OUR DECISION, THAT THAT IS PROVIDING MITIGATION TO A LEVEL THAT IN CHICAGO PRODUCED VERY LITTLE, UM, IN THE WAY OF CASE NUMBER INCREASES WITHIN THEIR CITY.

I WILL SAY IF YOU'RE VACCINATED AND YOU'RE MASKING, AND YOU'RE DOING ALL THE RIGHT THINGS, I FEEL COMFORTABLE WITHOUT PEOPLE COMING IN.

UH IT'S IT'S WHEN YOU HAVE HAZARDLY, DON'T FOLLOW THE GUIDANCE GIVEN TO YOU, UH, YOU BY PUBLIC HEALTH PROFESSIONALS ON HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND HOW TO PROTECT OTHERS, THAT, THAT, UH, PLACE PEOPLE AT RISK, A PLACE.

IF YOU'RE NOT VACCINATED, YOU PLACE YOURSELF AT GREAT RISK BY, BY NOT SOCIALLY DISTANCING BY NOT MASKING.

I MEAN, WE HAVE HEARD STORY AFTER STORY, AFTER STORY OVER THE LAST FEW WEEKS OF PEOPLE HAVE FAMILIES, HUSBANDS AND WIVES WHO HAVEN'T BEEN VACCINATED, UNNECESSARILY PLACED THEMSELVES AT RISK BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T THINK COVID WAS REAL OR THAT VACCINES WERE GOING TO WORK.

AND THEY'RE NOW BOTH ON THE VENTILATOR, AND THESE ARE THE STORIES THAT WE GET, YOU KNOW, WE HEAR, AND WE'RE THINKING THIS IS SO PREVENTABLE.

SO

[00:35:01]

IF YOU DO THE RIGHT THING, UM, AND YOU ARE MINDFUL OF WHO'S AROUND YOU AND YOU'RE PROTECTING YOURSELF, THAT'S ALL WE CAN ASK AT THIS POINT.

UH, AND YOU KNOW, WE'LL CONTINUE TO ASK, BUT WE WILL CONTINUE TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO DO THOSE NON PHARMACEUTICAL VINCI INTERVENTIONS, MASKING THAT SOCIALLY DISTANCING, AND ALSO, UM, STAYING HOME IF YOU'RE SICK, BUT, UH, GETTING VACCINATED BY ALL MEANS, UH, NEEDS TO HAPPEN.

THIS ONE IS FROM KUT.

IT SAYS BASED ON THE OUTREACH THAT YOU'VE DONE OVER THE LAST YEAR, WHO ARE THE PEOPLE WHO ARE STILL NOT VACCINATED, WHAT ARE THEIR BARRIERS TO VACCINATION? YEAH, I CAN JUMP IN.

UM, WE DEFINITELY ARE CONTINUING TO ASSESS WHAT ARE THE REASONS WHY PEOPLE ARE NOT GETTING VACCINATED AND HOW WE CAN MEET THEM.

AND THERE'S JUST SO MANY DIFFERENT LAYERS OF WHEN AND HOW PEOPLE COME TO THAT DECISION TO GET VACCINATED.

BUT WE ARE REALLY SEEING IN, UM, OUR LOCAL COMMUNITY IS THAT THE HIGHEST RATES OF UNVACCINATED FOLKS ARE IN THAT YOUNGER POPULATION.

WE KNOW THAT OUR 12 TO 15 YEAR OLD AND NOTING THAT THEY WERE THE LAST ONES THAT WERE ELIGIBLE FOR AVAILABLE VACCINE OR APPROVED FOR VACCINE, UM, THEY'RE SITTING AT 56% FULLY VACCINATED, SO THERE'S SOME WORK TO DO THERE.

UM, BUT THEN WE KNOW THAT THE LARGER PART OF WHERE WE ARE REALLY LAGGING BEHIND IS OUR YOUNG ADULT AND WORKING POPULATION.

UM, WE NOTICED THAT THE 16 OF 64 PER, UM, AGE RANGE IS, UM, IS UNDER THAT 70% SIGNIFICANTLY.

THEY'RE SITTING AT 50%, UH, NOT FULLY VACCINATED.

UM, AND THAT'S WHERE WE THINK WE CAN MAKE THE MOST STRIDES.

UM, AND SO NOTING THAT THOSE ARE STILL WAITING TO POTENTIALLY GET THEIR SECOND DOSE, UM, THERE'S, UH, ARE THOSE THAT ARE IN THE WORKSPACE TRYING TO DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT THEY'RE GOING TO GET THAT VACCINE.

THIS IS THE TIME BECAUSE THAT IS THE POPULATION THAT IS MOVING AROUND THE MOST IN OUR COMMUNITY THAT ARE GOING TO EVENTS THAT ARE, UM, UM, THE WORKING POPULATION AND, AND POTENTIALLY ALSO, UM, MAYBE PROVIDE AGAIN, CONTINUING TO SPREAD COVID.

UM, AND SO IF WE CAN GET THOSE POPULATIONS VACCINATED, WE CAN DEFINITELY, UM, ADD MORE LAYERS OF PROTECTION.

UM, BUT AGAIN, IT'S A BROAD GROUP OF PEOPLE.

THEY HAVE THEIR VARIETY OF DIFFERENT REASONS FOR THEIR DECISION-MAKING.

UM, AND WE CONTINUE TO WORK THROUGH THAT.

THIS ONE IS FROM CO-OP RADIO.

IT SAYS, ARE WE NOW MERELY ON THE DOWN SLOPE OF THE LABOR DAY SURGE, OR ARE WE REALLY GAINING GROUND AS A COMMUNITY AGAINST DELTA AND OTHER VARIANTS? WE ARE STILL, UM, IN THE INK WITHIN THAT INCUBATION PERIOD FOR, UM, THE IMPACT OF THAT SENTINEL EVENT, LABOR DAY, WHERE WE GOT TOGETHER WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY, AND SOME OF THOSE FOLKS WERE ON VACCINATED AND SOME MAY HAVE BEEN, UM, SYMPTOMATIC OR ASYMPTOMATICALLY CARRYING COVID-19.

SO WE, UM, HAVE BEEN SAYING ALL ALONG THAT WE'RE CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE IMPACT OF NOT ONLY LABOR DAY, BUT SCHOOLS, UM, AND THE CASES THAT ARE HAPPENING IN SCHOOLS WHERE MASKING IS NOT BEING USED CONSISTENTLY.

UM, AS A RESULT OF THAT, WE WILL CONTINUE TO PUT THAT MESSAGE OUT THERE, GET VACCINATED.

IT WORKS, WEAR A MASK THAT WORKS.

AND NOW IF YOU'RE COMING TO GET VACCINATED, PLEASE THINK ABOUT GETTING THAT FLU SHOT TOO, BECAUSE RIGHT NOW WE HAVE TWO VIRAL ENTITIES IN OUR COMMUNITY AND THEY ARE EQUALLY PROBLEMATIC.

IF PEOPLE GET TO THE POINT WHERE THEY'RE SEVERELY ILL AND NEED TO BE HOSPITALIZED COVID IS MUCH CAUSING MUCH MORE SERIOUS ILLNESS WITH THE DELTA VARIANT.

UM, IT'S MUCH MORE LIKELY TO CAUSE SEVERE ENOUGH ILLNESS TO REQUIRE INTENSIVE CARE, UM, HOSPITALIZATION.

BUT, UH, RIGHT NOW WE ARE STRETCHED THEN IN OUR HOSPITALS.

AND IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT THAT OUR COMMUNITY DOES WHAT IT NEEDS TO DO TO PROTECT ITSELF BY GETTING VACCINATED FOR COVID-19 AND THE FLU WEARING THOSE WASHING HANDS, SOCIALLY DISTANCING, STAYING HOME, IF YOU'RE SICK, GET TESTED, IF YOU DON'T FEEL WELL.

AND IF YOU TEST POSITIVE, SEE A PROVIDER, TALK TO HER PROVIDERS, SEE IF YOU'RE ELIGIBLE FOR MONOCLONAL ANTIBODY THERAPY.

AND IF YOU ARE, WE HAVE INFUSION THERAPY AVAILABLE.

THIS NEXT ONE IS FROM COMMUNITY IMPACT.

IT SAYS HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SERVED BY TRAVIS COUNTY'S MONOCLONAL ANTIBODY? UM, CURRENTLY WE'VE HAD ABOUT A 1,656 PEOPLE SERVE

[00:40:01]

SINCE AUGUST 16TH.

UH, YOU KNOW, THAT NUMBER CONTINUES TO INCREASE, UH, THAT, THAT ASSET, THE REGIONAL INFUSION CENTER HAS BEEN A HUGE, UH, LIFESAVER IN OUR COMMUNITY AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE AVAILABLE TO THOSE, UH, THAT NEED MEET THE CRITERIA FOR, UH, INFUSION THERAPY.

BUT IF YOU ARE, AS DR.

WACHS HAS MENTIONED ILL AND YOU ARE, ARE, YOU KNOW, ELIGIBLE FOR MONOCLONAL ANTIBODY THERAPY, UH, YOU NEED TO WORK WITH YOUR DOCTOR TO GET A REFERRAL.

I MEAN, WITHIN THE FIRST 10 DAYS OF YOUR ILLNESS, UH, AND, UH, IT HAS BEEN LIFE-SAVING FOR MANY PEOPLE LIFE SAVING FROM THE STANDPOINT OF PROTECTING THEM FROM SEVERE ILLNESS AND HOSPITALIZATION.

THIS NEXT ONE IS FROM HEATHER OSBORNE.

AND I KNOW YOU GUYS TOUCHED ON ACL A BIT, BUT IT'S KIND OF JUST ASKING ABOUT OTHER LARGE EVENTS, UM, COMING UP, IT SAYS, WHAT GUIDANCE WILL AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH AND DR.

WACHS PROVIDE FOR LARGE EVENTS THIS FALL LIKE YEARLY FESTIVALS, BUT ALSO AUSTIN FC AND FORMULA ONE I'LL START, UM, FOR ANY EVENT THAT IS PERMITTED BY THE CITY OF AUSTIN.

UM, WE ARE RECOMMEND RECOMMENDING THE SUBMISSION OF A HEALTH AND SAFETY PLAN AND THAT HEALTH AND SAFETY PLAN ASKS THE EVENT ORGANIZERS TO OUTLINE HOW THEY WILL IMPLEMENT THE MEASURES OF MITIGATION THAT WE KNOW ARE PROVEN TO BE MOST EFFECTIVE.

THE ONE, THE FIRST ONE IS MAKING SURE THAT PATRONS HAVE ARE NEGATIVE TESTS OR A COVID FREE.

THE SECOND IS MAKING SURE THERE'S AMPLE OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE TO MASK.

THE THIRD IS IF THERE'S ANY WAY POSSIBLE FOR FOLKS TO BE SOCIALLY DISTANCED.

THE FOURTH IS, DO YOU HAVE THE CAPACITY ON SITE TO MAKE SURE IF SOMEONE, UM, IS SUFFERING A HEALTH EVENT, DO YOU HAVE RESOURCES TO HELP TRIAGE THAT PERSON? AND SO THAT'S JUST THE IDEA OF THE, UM, QUESTION THAT WE'RE ASKING ORGANIZERS TO GO THROUGH.

AND IT'S NOT A SIMPLE CHECKLIST.

IT'S, IT'S THE ENTRY WAY INTO A CONVERSATION ABOUT HOW WE CAN HELP THEM PLAN THEIR EVENT TO BE AS SAFE AS POSSIBLE.

AGAIN, OUR COMMUNITY HAS MORE POWER THAN ANY, FOR ANY PLANNING PROCESS WE CAN CHOOSE TO FULLY ENJOY OUR EVENTS, OUR FESTIVAL SEASON, BY STAYING HOME THAT BEGINNING THAT'S NATIVE THAT'S NUMBER ONE, UM, TESTING, IF YOU'RE SICK, STAYING HOME, IF YOU'RE SICK AND PRACTICING THOSE MEASURES OF KEEPING YOURSELF AND OTHERS SAFE, MASKING SOCIAL DISTANCING, AND WASHING YOUR HANDS.

WONDERFUL.

THIS IS THE LAST QUESTION IT'S FROM CBS AUSTIN.

AND IT SAYS, IS THERE GOING TO BE A RESPONSE TO THE TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER EFFECTING ROUND ROCK ISD AFTER A WILCO JUDGE, GRANTED IT STOPPING THE MASK MANDATE.

PART OF THE DISTRICT IS IN THE CITY OF AUSTIN SLASH TRAVIS COUNTY AT THIS TIME, WE'LL, UH, IT WOULD BE MOST APPROPRIATE FOR THE CITY DEPARTMENTS TO GET TOGETHER, UM, WITH THE HEALTH AUTHORITY AND TO MEET WITH THAT SCHOOL DISTRICT AND THE SUPERINTENDENTS TO FIGURE OUT HOW WE CAN BEST SUPPORT, UM, KEEPING THEIR STUDENTS SAFE.

UM, AND WITH THAT, YOU DON'T NEED A MANDATE TO DO WHAT'S RIGHT.

PARENTS CAN STILL CHOOSE TO SEND THEIR KIDS TO SCHOOL WITH MASKS AND TO ENCOURAGE THAT BEHAVIOR AT HOME.

AND, UM, TEACHERS CAN CAN IN, IN ANY WAY THEY CAN HAVE, WE CAN SUPPORT THEM IN CREATING ENVIRONMENTS THAT REINFORCE THE SAFETY OF THAT MESSAGE.

SO, UM, A MANDATE DOESN'T STOP US DOING WHAT WE KNOW IS RIGHT AS THE COMMUNITY AND MAKING THAT PERSONAL CHOICE FOR THE SAFETY OF YOUR CHILD AND YOUR FAMILY.

THANK YOU.

AT THIS TIME, WE WILL GO INTO OUR CLOSING REMARKS, DR.

WACHS.

I JUST LIKE TO REITERATE THE IMPORTANCE OF EVERYBODY IN AUSTIN, DOING WHAT WE KNOW AS BEST FOR OUR COMMUNITY, UM, WHETHER YOU ARE PRO-LIFE OR PRO LIVING, GETTING VACCINATED PROTECTS PEOPLE'S LIVES.

UM, THE DELTA VARIANT OF COVID-19 CAUSES SEVERE ILLNESS.

UM, THOSE WHO RUN VACCINATED ARE 10 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO END UP IN THE HOSPITAL IF THEY GET COVID-19 AND THEY HAD 10 TIMES MORE RISK OF HAVING A UN UN

[00:45:01]

DESIRABLE OUTCOME, UM, AND EVEN DYING FROM THIS DISEASE, THE DELTA VARIANCE SPREADS QUICKLY.

UM, AND, AND IN THAT REGARD, IT IS MUCH MORE SERIOUS THAN OUR PREVIOUS, UM, FORMS OF THIS COVID-19 VIRUS IN OTHER SURGEONS, OUR HOSPITALS WEREN'T FULL WHEN THE SEARCH STARTED, BUT WHEN THIS STARTED ON JULY 1ST, THERE WERE PEOPLE THAT WERE IN HOSPITAL WHO HAD DELAYED CARE, THEY NEEDED THEIR SURGERY FOR CANCER, OR, OR, OR THEY JUST WERE SICK BECAUSE THEY WAITED A LONG TIME TO COME OUT AND GET WHAT THEY NEEDED DONE.

AND IN THE MIDST OF THAT, WE HAD THE SEARCH DEVELOP AND IN THE MIDST OF THAT, SCHOOL'S OPENED AND IN THE MIDST OF THAT LABOR DAY HAPPENED, AND WE KNOW THAT ALL OF THOSE THINGS COMBINED HAVE BROUGHT US TO WHERE WE ARE NOW, WHERE OUR ICU'S ARE OVER CAPACITY.

WE HAVE ICU NURSES STRETCHED.

THEN WE HAVE PEOPLE IN NON-CONVENTIONAL PLACES IN THE HOSPITAL RECEIVING ICU CARE.

WE HAVE PATIENTS IN ERS WAITING ON STRETCHERS IN THE HALLWAY, AND WE CAN DO SOMETHING TO HELP THAT CONGESTION.

WE CAN DECREASE THE SPREAD OF THIS DISEASE.

WE CAN GO GET VACCINATED.

WE CAN CONTINUE TO WEAR A MASK.

WE CAN CONTINUE TO STAY HOME IF WE'RE SICK, GET TESTED.

AND IF WE ARE POSITIVE, TALK TO A HEALTHCARE PROVIDER, SEE IF YOU CAN GO AND ARE ELIGIBLE FOR INFUSION THERAPY TO STOP THE NEED OR DECREASE THE NEED FOR YOU TO BE HOSPITALIZED AND HAD THAT BAD OUTCOME.

WE'RE SEEING YOUNG PEOPLE SUCCUMB TO THIS DISEASE.

THAT'S SOMETHING WE HAVE TO STOP.

WE HAVE PREGNANT WOMEN HAVING BABIES, AND THEN BEING ON LIFE SUPPORT THAT HAS TO STOP.

WE HAVE TO GET PEOPLE VACCINATED.

IT'S TIME.

AUSTIN IS BEAUTIFUL, FALL WEATHER.

WE WANT OUR SCHOOLS TO STAY OPEN.

WE CAN MAKE THE CHOICE TO PUT A MASK ON OUR CHILD.

WE CAN MAKE THE CHOICE TO WEAR A MASK OURSELVES SO THAT WE CAN PROTECT THE KIDS THAT CAN'T GET THE VACCINE YET.

AND WE CAN GO GET OUR FLU VACCINE.

IT IS TIME TO DO THAT.

WE HAVE TO GET TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS.

WE WANT TO HEAR THE MUSIC AGAIN, RIGHT? WE WANT TO LIVE OUR LIVES.

IT'S TIME.

OOH, DR.

WACHS, I'M, I'M FAILING AND ALL OF THAT, THAT PASSION THAT YOU'RE PUTTING THROUGH ON THE SCREEN.

AND I HOPE THAT, UM, AUSTIN, AS, AS WELL, UM, BEFORE WE GET TOGETHER FOR THESE EVENTS, THE, UH, MEDIA TEAM HELPS US PREP.

AND WE WERE SHOOTING SOMEONE, SHARED THE STORY ABOUT A VETERAN WHO, UM, LOST HIS LIFE DUE TO APPENDICITIS, BECAUSE HE COULD NOT GET INTO A HOSPITAL THAT, THAT IS SAD, THAT IN THIS DAY AND AGE, SOMEONE COULD PASS FROM SOMETHING THAT COULD BE RESOLVED RELATIVELY QUICKLY, BECAUSE OUR HOSPITALS ARE FULL OF FOLKS THAT DON'T NECESSARILY HAVE TO BE THERE.

AND I KNOW THERE'S A LOT OF TALK ABOUT PERSONAL CHOICE AND MY RIGHTS, AND I DO WHAT I WANT.

IMAGINE IF THAT MAN DECIDED NOT TO GO FIGHT FOR THIS COUNTRY, IF HE THOUGHT IT WAS ENOUGH TO PROTECT HIS OWN HOMESTEAD, WE BENEFIT EVERY DAY FROM THE SACRIFICES THAT OTHER PEOPLE MADE FOR US, MUCH MORE COSTLY THAN GETTING A VACCINE, WEARING A MASK AND JUST COMMON COURTESY.

I'M STAYING HOME WHEN YOU'RE SICK.

AND SO AS YOUR PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT, AND WE WILL DO EVERYTHING THAT WE CAN DO TO MAKE SURE THAT WE PROVIDE THE RESOURCES THAT ARE NECESSARY, BUT WE DO NEED THE COMMUNITY TO DO THEIR PART.

AND SO, AGAIN, AS WE DO EVERY WEEK, I IMPLORE YOU TO LOOK BEYOND WHAT'S GOOD FOR YOU AND THINK ABOUT THE BROADER COMMUNITY, WEAR YOUR MASK, STAY HOME IF YOU'RE SICK, GET VACCINATED, JANET.

YES.

AND I THINK WHAT YOU'RE HEARING HERE IS A LOT OF VERY PASSIONATE PEOPLE WHO HAVE SEEN DAY IN AND DAY OUT, UH, THE TRAGEDY OF THIS DISEASE AND THE IMPACT ON FAMILIES AND, AND OUR COMMUNITY IN GENERAL.

UM, YOU KNOW, WE'RE IN A GOOD SPOT, OR WE'RE STARTING TO GET INTO THE POINT WHERE WE ARE SEEING SOME DOWNWARD MOVEMENT AND DECREASES IN CASES.

AND SOME OF THESE KEY INDICATORS WHERE THINGS ARE BEGINNING TO, UH, DECREASE IN DECLINE.

AND SO I'D LIKE TO KEEP IT THAT WAY.

WE ARE NINE WEEKS FROM CHRISTMAS, AND I BRING THAT UP RIGHT NOW BECAUSE YOU KNOW,

[00:50:01]

WHAT WE DO TODAY WILL, UH, HAVE AN IMPACT ON WHERE WE ARE IN NINE WEEKS.

AND I WANT TO SPEND TIME WITH MY FAMILY THAT I HAVEN'T SEEN IN QUITE SOME TIME.

UH, YOU KNOW, I JUST, I, I WANT TO BE ABLE TO, FOR ALL OF US IN OUR COMMUNITY TO CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS IN THE WAY THAT WE ARE USED TO CELEBRATING.

AND SO, UH, ARE THE, IF YOU KEEP THAT GOAL IN MIND, UH, YOU KNOW, THE WAY TO GET TO WHERE WE NEED TO BE IS TO DO THE RIGHT THING IN THE COMMUNITY.

AND THAT IS TO DO THESE THINGS THAT WE HAVE BEEN SAYING SINCE MARCH OF 2020.

AND THAT IS WHERE YOUR MASK SOCIALLY DISTANCE WASH YOUR HANDS, STAY HOME, IF YOU'RE SICK AND GET VACCINATED.

AND, YOU KNOW, AS DR WACHS MENTIONED, NOT ONLY FOR COVID, BUT FLU, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE MILD FLU SEASON LAST YEAR.

LET'S KEEP IT MILD AGAIN THIS YEAR.

UH, AND ONE WAY TO DO THAT IS TO DO ALL OF THOSE THINGS.

AND WITH THAT ALTERNATIVE OVER TO CASSIE TO CLOSE THIS OUT, THANK YOU, JANET.

AND I HAVE TO, I APPRECIATE SO MUCH THAT I AM ON THE SAME PANEL WITH THESE SHEROES BECAUSE THEY ARE ROCKING IT THIS MORNING.

UM, JUST TO REITERATE, WE ARE VERY PASSIONATE AND THERE IS A LOT OF PASSION IN THIS COMMUNITY TO TRY TO ADDRESS THIS PANDEMIC AND TO TRY TO, UM, GET US BEYOND THIS, UM, AND SAVE EACH OTHER'S LIVES.

UM, AND THIS IS THE OPPORTUNITY TO, UM, THERE'S A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT EACH OTHER.

IT'S THIS OPPORTUNITY TO SET THOSE FEELINGS ASIDE, PUT THAT PASSION INTO ACTION AND MAKE PLANS TO GET YOURSELF VACCINATED, TO GET YOUR FAMILIES VACCINATED, TO SHARE WITH YOUR NEIGHBORS, TO THE IMPORTANCE OF PRACTICING THOSE INFECTION CONTROL MITIGATION PRACTICES.

ALL OF THOSE THINGS ARE THINGS THAT WE CAN DO COLLECTIVELY AS A COMMUNITY TO, UM, MANAGE THE SITUATION.

AND AS, AS EVERYONE HAS BEEN SAYING, GET US BACK INTO A SPACE THAT WE CAN LIVE WITH SOME KIND OF NORMALCY.

UM, WE WILL STILL NEED TO WEAR THOSE MASKS.

WE'LL STILL NEED TO FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES.

AND AS BOOSTERS COME ONLINE AND RECOMMENDATIONS COME OUT, IT'S GOING TO BE IMPORTANT TO STAY VIGILANT, TO, TO HAVE THOSE CONVERSATIONS WITH YOUR DOCTORS, TO MAKE THOSE PLANS, TO GET VACCINATED.

IF IT'S TIME TO HAVE A BOOSTER VACCINE TO GET YOUR BOOSTER VACCINE, THOSE ARE ALL THINGS PEOPLE SHOULD BE LOOKING ON TO THE HORIZON, BUT ENCOURAGING OTHERS, LIFTING UP OTHERS, UM, LIFTING UP ALL THE PARTNERS THAT ARE IN THIS RESPONSE SO THAT WE CAN ALL GET THROUGH THIS AND CONTINUE TO ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER SO THAT WE CAN GET BACK TO A SAFE AND HEALTHY COMMUNITY.

AND WITH THAT HAVE A SAFE AND HEALTHY WEEKEND.

THANK YOU, CASSIE.

THAT CONCLUDES OUR MEDIA AVAILABILITY FOR TODAY.

THANK YOU TO DR.

DESMO OUR WALKS AND FROM APH DIRECTOR, ADRIAN STIRRUP, CHIEF EPIDEMIOLOGIST, JANET PICHET AND CASSANDRA DE LEON APH, CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER FOR DISEASE PREVENTION, HEALTH PROMOTION DIVISION, AND TO OUR POOL REPORTER HANNAH RUCKER FROM KVU.

THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY AND HAVE A SAFE WEEKEND.



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