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[00:00:15]

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 N 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, AND THEN JANET PUSH IT, AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH, CHIEF EPIDEMIOLOGIST.

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, AUSTIN.

WE'VE HAD A VERY DEADLY SUMMER.

A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO, UH, BECAME SEVERELY ILL BECAUSE OF THE DELTA VARIANT OF COVID-19.

BUT THANKS TO THE HARD WORK OF THIS COMMUNITY, UM, GETTING PEOPLE OUT TO GET BACK SEDATED PEOPLE, PUTTING THEIR MASK ON WASHING THEIR HANDS, SOCIALLY DISTANCING AND STAYING HOME.

WHEN THEY WERE SICK.

WE WERE ABLE TO COME TO A PLACE WHERE WE WERE ABLE TO BALANCE, UH, THE RESTRICTIONS AND OPEN UP OUR EVENT SEASON, UM, AND GET THINGS MOVING BACK INTO OUR, GET KIDS BACK INTO OUR SCHOOLS, WEARING MASK AND DOORS.

UM, WE'VE BEEN ABLE TO KEEP OUR BUSINESSES OPEN AND CONTINUE TO WORK ON HAVING A THRIVING ECONOMY.

ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE THANKS TO THE HARD WORK OF THIS COMMUNITY, AND NOW WE'RE AT A PLACE OF RE-EVALUATING WHAT IS GOING TO BE OUR NEW REALITY.

UM, SO GOING FORWARD, WE WILL CONTINUE TO WORK WITH COMMUNITY MEMBERS AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS.

ARE YOU TEAM MODELING GROUP, THE INCREDIBLE TEAM HERE AT ATH AND PUT TOGETHER A PLAN.

SO THAT GOING FORWARD, WE WILL BE READY FOR WHAT'S BEING CALLED FLOODED THE COMBINATION OF COVID AND THE FLU, BECAUSE WE KNOW THEY ARE BOTH GOING TO IMPACT OUR HOSPITAL SYSTEMS. AND WE ALL UNDERSTAND THAT WHAT WE REALLY HAVE TO PROTECT GOING FORWARD IS OUR ABILITY TO CARE FOR OUR COMMUNITIES.

SO I THANK YOU FOR YOUR WORK AND YOUR EFFORTS AND TOGETHER, WE'RE GOING TO WORK TO GET THROUGH THE, THE SEASON OF HOLIDAYS AND THE SEASON OF WINTER ILLNESSES SUCCESSFULLY.

AND WITH THAT, I'LL PASS IT OVER TO OUR DIRECTOR.

STIRRUP, THANK YOU, DR.

WACHS, FOLLOWING YOUR LEAD, LOOKING BACK TO DECEMBER OF 2020, WHEN VACCINES FIRST BECAME AVAILABLE, UM, IT WAS A MADHOUSE SUPPLIES WERE LIMITED.

UM, THERE WEREN'T ENOUGH PROVIDERS IN COMMUNITY AND NOBODY HAD A SYSTEM THAT WAS READY TO TAKE ON THE AMOUNT OF DEMAND FOR THE APPOINTMENTS THAT NEEDED TO BE SCHEDULED.

BUT, UM, UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF NOW ASSISTANT CITY MANAGER, AUSTIN, PUBLIC HEALTH, UH, UH, STEPHANIE HAYDEN, HOWARD, RATHER AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH STEPPED FORWARD AND SAID, I WILL.

AND WE BECAME A HUB PROVIDER AND YOU KNOW, IT WAS ROUGH AND ROCKY, BUT WE MANAGED TO SERVICE NOT ONLY TRAVIS COUNTY, BUT RESIDENTS FROM FAR AND WIDE WHO WANTED A VACCINATING, UM, FAST FORWARD TO TODAY WHERE OUR COUNTRY HAS BUKU BACKSEAT.

UM, THERE WERE TIMES AND SPACES WHERE WE WERE GIVING IT AWAY AND UNFORTUNATELY THROWING IT AWAY.

AND NOW WE HAVE SYSTEMS IN PLACE SO THAT ANYONE WHO WANTS A VACCINE CAN GET ONE.

AND SO WE HAVE DONE AN EXCELLENT JOB AS A COMMUNITY WE'RE ABOVE 71% FULLY VACCINATED, AND WE'RE ON OUR WAY TO MEETING THOSE GOALS.

LOOKING FORWARD TO THE FUTURE BOOSTERS WE KNOW ABOUT PFIZER, WE'RE WAITING TO HEAR ABOUT VAGINA AND JNJ, UM, I'M SURE ALL OF YOU SAW ON THE NEWS THE OTHER DAY THAT PFIZER SUBMITTED THEIR PAPERWORK FOR EMERGENCY USE AUTHORIZATION FOR PD VACCINES, AND WE'RE READY.

UM, OUR SYSTEMS ARE NOT PERFECT, BUT THEY'RE BETTER.

THEY'RE AVAILABLE IN MULTIPLE LANGUAGES.

YOU CAN SCHEDULE ONLINE, YOU CAN WALK UP TO ANY OF OUR CLINICS.

YOU CAN CALL 3, 1, 1 OR THE EQUITY LINE AND WE WILL HELP YOU GET A VACCINE.

AND IF THAT DOESN'T WORK, WE WILL COME TO WHERE YOU ARE.

AND SO, AS DR.

WACHS SAID, YOU KNOW, AS WE CONTINUE TO ADJUST TO WHAT LIFE IS NOW WITH COVID FLU VID OR WHATEVER MAY

[00:05:01]

COME, UM, WE'VE, WE'VE PROVED WHAT WE CAN DO AS A COMMUNITY.

WE KNOW THE MEASURES THAT WORK AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO PRESS FORWARD.

AND WITH THAT, I'LL PASS IT TO JANET CHRISTIAN.

THANKS, ADRIAN.

AND GOOD MORNING, EVERYONE.

UM, YOU KNOW, UH, I'M GONNA LOOK BACK JUST TO A MONTH AGO AND JUST WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW THAT ONE MONTH AGO WE WERE SITTING AT A CASE COUNT, A DAILY CASE, COUNT OF CLOSE TO A 1200, ALMOST 1300 CASES WITH 23 DEATHS REPORTED IN A SINGLE DAY.

UH, WE WERE IN A DIRE SITUATION.

OUR HOSPITALS WERE BEING SURGED.

UH, YOU KNOW, WE WERE TRYING TO FIND HEALTHCARE CAPACITY TO SUPPORT THE HOSPITALS AND, AND, YOU KNOW, WE WE'VE MADE IT OVER THAT HUMP.

FORTUNATELY TODAY WE WILL REPORT OUT A CASE OF, OF, UH, ABOUT 160 200 CASES WITH THREE ADDITIONAL DEATHS, UH, WHICH IS A GOOD INDICATOR THAT THINGS ARE GOING DOWN.

OUR TEST, OUR TEST POSITIVITY RATE IN THE COMMUNITY CONTINUES TO DECLINE.

UH, AND THOSE ARE ALL GOOD SIGNS THAT WE ARE, UH, RETURNING, UH, BACK TO A BETTER POSITION THAN WE WERE A MONTH AGO.

UM, WHAT WE NEED TO LOOK FORWARD TO THOUGH IS WE ARE ALSO ABOUT TO ENTER A COLD, COLD AND FLU SEASON.

WE'RE IN IT.

IN FACT, UH, FLU VACCINES ARE READILY AVAILABLE TO THE COMMUNITY.

WE HAD A VERY MILD FLU SEASON THIS LAST YEAR, UH, WITH RELATIVELY VERY FEW CASES.

SO, YOU KNOW, I'M CONCERNED THAT WE WILL HAVE, WE WILL BE HIT HARD WITH FLU IF WE'RE NOT PREPARED, BUT WE NEED TO MAINTAIN BEING A HEALTHY COMMUNITY.

UH, WE ARE FAIRING BETTER THAN OTHER METROPOLITAN AREAS IN THE STATE OVERALL.

AND, YOU KNOW, WITH FLU, WE, I LIKE TO SEE US FOLLOW SUIT.

AND SO WITH THAT, IT WILL REQUIRE US AS A COMMUNITY TO MAKE SURE WE'RE DOING EVERYTHING, TO KEEP OURSELVES HEALTHY AND SAFE.

AND THAT WOULD BE TO GO AHEAD AND GET YOUR FLU VACCINE IF, UH, IT'S AVAILABLE TO YOU.

IT IS AVAILABLE OUT IN THE COMMUNITY AT YOUR COMMERCIAL PHARMACIES, BY YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS OR THROUGH AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH.

UM, SO GET YOUR FLU VACCINE, UH, AND PRACTICES NON-PAR, UH, PHARMACEUTICAL INTERVENTIONS THAT ARE KNOWN TO KEEP YOU SAFE.

AND THAT IS TO CONTINUE MASKING, ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMOLOGY, YOU NEED TO STAY HOME WHEN YOU'RE SICK.

UH, EVEN IF YOUR SYMPTOMS ARE MILD AND ALLERGY LIGHT, CAUSE WE'VE SEEN THAT, UH, UH, BECOME AN INDICATION OF COVID OR IT COULD BE A SIGN OF THE FLU, OR IT COULD BE THAT YOU DO HAVE ALLERGIES AND IT COULD DEVELOP INTO A BACTERIAL INFECTION.

BUT IF YOU, IF YOU HAVE THE SNIFFLES AND, AND THINGS LIKE THAT, PLEASE STAY HOME AND DON'T PLACE OTHER PEOPLE AT RISK.

UH, AND THEN ALSO MAKE SURE YOU'RE DOING, UH, YOU'RE WASHING YOUR HANDS AND, AND, AND STAYING SAY CONGENITAL, UH, DURING THE SOCIAL DISTANCING.

SO THOSE ARE THE THINGS THAT WE KNOW ARE INTERVENTIONS THAT KEEP NOT ONLY YOU SAFE, THAT YOUR FAMILY AND OUR COMMUNITY, AND WITH THAT ALTERNATE SILVER TICKET TO, FOR QUESTIONS, THANK YOU FOR THAT.

JANET.

WE WILL NOW HEAR FROM OUR POOL REPORTER GRACE READER FROM K X A N GRACE.

THANK YOU ALL AS ALWAYS FOR YOUR TIME.

THE FIRST QUESTION COMES FROM US HERE AT KX, A N HAVE WE SEEN THE IMPACT OF ACL WEEKEND, ONE ON CASE NUMBERS YET, IS ANYTHING BEING DONE DIFFERENTLY THIS WEEKEND AS A RESULT? SO WE HAVE, UH, FOUR CASES REPORTED AS A RESULT OF, UM, THOSE ATTENDING ACL AND THE EVENT ORGANIZERS HAVE TAKEN ON THAT RESPONSIBILITY OF ENSURING THAT THE MITIGATION MEASURES ARE BEING ENFORCED.

WE'VE HAD CONVERSATIONS WITH THEM OVER THE WEEK AND THEY WILL, UM, AUGMENT THOSE EFFORTS BY PUTTING MORE STATIONS AND MORE SIGN AND JEN, AND SOME AUDIO REMINDERS TO PEOPLE TO WEAR MASKS IN THOSE MASKS ZONES THAT HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED OVERALL WE'RE, UM, CONTINUING TO MONITOR.

AND IF THEY CONTINUE TO DO WHAT IT TAKES TO ENSURE MITIGATION AS HELD, UM, TO THE WAY IT HAS BEEN, UM, UH, AGREED UPON, WE ANTICIPATE THAT WE WILL SAY LOW CASE NUMBERS, AND I'LL JUST ADD ON, UH, YOU KNOW, OUR CASE NUMBERS CONTINUE TO DECLINE.

AND SO

[00:10:01]

WE'VE REALLY SEEN VERY LITTLE LARGE IMPACT RELATED TO ACL AS, AS FAR AS WHAT DR.

ROSS WAS JUST SAYING.

WE HAVE ONLY RESPONDED TO FOUR KNOWN CASES THAT WERE, UH, ASSOCIATED WITH THAT HAS BEEN, OR, OR ATTENDED THAT EVENT.

I WANT TO STRESS HERE TO THE COMMUNITY, IF YOU ARE ATTENDING ACL, UM, YOU KNOW, AND I'M SURE IT'S GOING TO BE A GORGEOUS WEEKEND TO BE OUTSIDE AND, AND PARTICIPATE.

BUT IF YOU HAVE ANY SYMPTOMOLOGY, THAT IS AN INDICATION THAT YOU HAVE, COVID LIKE ILLNESS, RUNNY NOSE, SNIFFLES, FEVER, SORE THROAT, ALL THOSE THINGS THAT WE KNOW YOU REALLY NEED TO STAY HOME, UH, AND, AND NOT PLACE OTHER EVENT GOERS AT RISK.

UH, IT'S JUST NOT WORTH IT, YOU KNOW, BUT AGAIN, IF YOU HAVE THE SYMPTOMOLOGY, UH, PLEASE STAY HOME.

UM, AND YOU KNOW, THAT'S HOW WE PREVENT ILLNESS.

THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE AT THE EVENT, YOU KNOW, IF YOU'RE ENCOUNTERING PEOPLE THAT YOU'RE NOT FAMILIAR WITH, DO YOU NEED TO CONSIDER MASKING? I SAW PHOTOS WHERE A LOT OF PEOPLE WERE NOT MAST.

AND, AND I THINK WHAT IT SHOWS IS THAT WHILE PEOPLE MAY HAVE HAD, UM, AUNTIE WERE ABLE TO ENTER WITH THEIR VACCINE CARDS OR, OR TEST RESULTS, UH, THERE WERE STILL SOME CASES THAT ARE PRESENT IN THE, IN THE CROWD.

SO JUST BE CAREFUL AND BE SAFE OUT THERE.

AND, YOU KNOW, IF YOU DO GO ENJOY THE EVENT, BUT BE SAFE, THE NEXT QUESTION FROM COMMUNITY IMPACT DOES APH EXPECT ANOTHER SURGE IN CASES AROUND THE HOLIDAY SEASON, LIKE IN 2020, THE CDC HAS SHARED MODELS, PROJECTING THAT CASES WILL DECLINE COUNTRYWIDE THROUGH AT LEAST MARCH.

WE ARE HOPEFUL THAT IF WE CONTINUE WITH THE COURSE OF HAVING PEOPLE GET VACCINATED FOR BOTH COVID AND FLU, THAT WE WILL SEE A DECLINE IN RESPIRATORY ILLNESS IN THE COMING MONTHS.

HOWEVER, UM, WE ARE PREPARED, UM, FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON WHEN PEOPLE WILL BE CONGREGATING WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS AND IN THOSE GATHERINGS, OR MAYBE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT BEEN VACCINATED, UM, AND THOSE HAVE NOT BEEN VACCINATED FOR COVID-19, UM, MAY END UP REQUIRING HOSPITALIZATION BECAUSE THIS DELTA VARIANT THAT WE'RE DEALING WITH IS SEVERE.

AND FOR THOSE WHO ARE ON VACCINATED, THERE IS, UH, LESS PROTECTION FOR, UM, THEN AS FAR AS EVENTUALLY ENDING UP IN HOSPITALS REQUIRING ICU CARE, AND UNFORTUNATELY MANY HAVE DIED.

WE'VE SEEN AN INCREASE IN DEATHS IN THE 30 TO 49 YEAR OLD AGE GROUP.

AND IN AREAS, UM, PARTICULARLY IN SOME OF OUR SURROUNDING COUNTIES WHERE VACCINATION RATES ARE LOWER, WE'RE SEEING HIGHER NUMBERS OF PEOPLE FROM THOSE COUNTIES REQUIRING HOSPITALIZATION.

SO IT IS IMPORTANT THAT WE CONTINUE TO STRESS.

WHAT'S BEEN WORKING, WEARING MASKS TO PREVENT THE SPREAD WASHING HANDS SOCIALLY DISTANCING AS WELL, AND GETTING VACCINATED SO THAT YOU CAN PREVENT, UM, BE PROTECTED, UH, AGAINST DEVELOPING, UM, ILLNESS FROM COVID-19.

AND I WANT TO JUST ALSO ADD, TO FOLLOW UP ON WITH WHAT JANET SAID WITH REGARDS TO ATTENDING LARGE EVENTS, IF YOU'RE ATTENDING A LARGE EVENT AND MONITOR YOURSELF FOR SYMPTOMS. AND IF YOU FEEL THAT YOU MAY HAVE BEEN ENCOUNTERED SOMEBODY WHILE YOU'RE AT THE EVENT THAT HAD SYMPTOMS, TEST YOURSELF IN THREE TO FIVE DAYS AFTERWARDS, JUST TO BE SURE THAT YOU ARE NOT AN ASYMPTOMATIC CARRIER ON THE BED ALL NIGHT ANSWERING THE NEXT QUESTION FROM CO-OP RADIO IS APH TRACKING DATA ON THOSE WHO ARE GETTING THE FLU VACCINE IS APH SEEING THE SAME CAUTIONS IN THE PUBLIC THIS YEAR AS LAST.

UM, SO WHAT H WHAT WE ARE DOING HERE AT, UH, AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH IS WE HAVE A SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM THAT ACTUALLY, UH, TRACKS RESPIRATORY ILLNESSES DURING THE WINTER MONTHS.

SO, UM, FLU IS, IS A PART OF THAT.

WE BEGAN DOING WHAT WE CALL SENTINEL SURVEILLANCE, UH, PEOPLE WHO ARE OUT IN THE COMMUNITY WHO MAY GO TO THEIR PROVIDER,

[00:15:01]

THAT PROVIDER MAY GO AHEAD AND RUN A, UH, RAPID FLU TEST TO SEE IF, IF WE HAVE FLU CIRCULATING.

AND SO WE CLOSELY MONITOR THAT THROUGHOUT THE YEAR TO MAKE SURE WE, WE CAN SEE, YOU KNOW, WHAT, UH, FLU STRAINS ARE ACTUALLY MONITORING, WHETHER IT'S AN INFLUENZA B STRAIN OR INFLUENCE A STRAIN.

A LOT OF TIMES WE MAY SEE THE SEASON LEAD WITH ONE TYPE OF STRAIN.

AND THEN WHEN WE HAVE WE'RE AT THE PEAK OF OUR CASES, WE MAY HAVE INFLUENCED A CIRCULATING PRETTY HEAVILY, BUT, UM, WE DO MONITOR THAT PRETTY CLOSELY, UH, THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.

AND WE SHOULD BEGIN, UH, PREPARING SITUATION REPORTS, UH, TO THE PUBLIC, UH, THAT ARE AVAILABLE READILY AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC.

UH, YOU KNOW, IF, IF, IF YOU WANT THAT INFORMATION AND DATA, THE NEXT QUESTION FROM KUT, WHAT GROUPS OF PEOPLE ARE STILL LAGGING IN VACCINATION RATES, AND WHAT DO YOU THINK IS NEEDED TO GET THEM VACCINATED? ONE OF THE DISPARITIES THAT WE'VE BEEN CLOSELY WATCHING AS A PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT ARE THOSE AND OUR RACIAL AND ETHNIC MINORITIES.

AND, UM, AS WE'VE REPORTED, UH, WEEKLY, THAT WE'RE STILL SEEING GAPS IN THE VACCINATION RATES FOR OUR AFRICAN-AMERICAN AND HISPANIC POPULATIONS.

AND SO THE EFFORTS, UM, TO, TO TRY TO ADDRESS THOSE DISPARITIES ARE BUILT IN EQUITY, AND THAT'S WHERE YOU SEE US MAKING SURE THAT WE, UM, PROVIDE PROGRAMS AND SERVICES THAT REMOVE POSSIBLE BARRIERS.

SO IF IT'S LANGUAGE, WE MAKE SURE THAT, UM, FOLKS CAN RECEIVE SERVICES IN THE LANGUAGE OF THEIR PREFERENCE.

UM, IF IT'S LOCATION, UM, IF YOU LIVE IN A PART OF TOWN THAT, THAT PART OF TOWN THAT WE CALL THE EASTERN CRESCENT AND WHERE WE KNOW THERE'S NOT A LOT OF INFRASTRUCTURE, WE'RE OUT THERE WITH MOBILE TEAMS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH TRAVIS COUNTY AND THE CONSTABLE'S OFFICE TO PROVIDE, UM, SHOTS ON LOCATION.

UM, IF, IF YOU DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY, WE REVAMPED OUR SYSTEMS SO THAT YOU CAN WALK UP AND MAKE AN APPOINTMENT.

AND ALL OF OUR LOCATIONS ARE IN COMMUNITY-BASED HUBS, WHERE AT DELCO, WE'RE AT THE SOUTH EAST LIBRARY AT DOVE SPRINGS REC RIGHT, LITTLE WALNUT CREEK, UM, IN ANY WAY THAT WE CAN TO, UM, REMOVE BARRIERS, PROVIDE INFORMATION, THAT'S WHAT WE'RE WORKING ON.

I'D ALSO ADD THAT WE'RE ALSO EXPANDING OUR, UM, CAPABILITIES OF REACHING PEOPLE WITH INFORMATION IN OUR SURROUNDING COUNTIES, UM, SO THAT THEY CAN GET THAT RESOURCE, THAT INFORMATION TRUTH ABOUT THE VACCINES AND THEIR EFFECTIVENESS, SO THAT THEY CAN MAKE THAT DECISION TO GO AND GET VACCINATED BECAUSE, UM, ACCESS AND RESOURCES ARE KEY TO HELPING PEOPLE MAKE THE DECISION TO PROTECT THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILIES.

THE NEXT QUESTION FROM THE AUSTIN AMERICAN STATESMAN, AS THE AUSTIN AREA PREPARES TO SHIFT TO STAGE THREE WE'LL HELP LEADERS MAKE ANY CHANGES TO THE RECOMMENDATIONS ALREADY LISTED UNDER THAT STAGES RISK-BASED GUIDELINES CHART, OR CAN RESIDENTS PLAN TO FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES ALREADY LISTED UNDER STAGE THREE WE'RE RE-EVALUATING OUR RISK BASED GUIDANCE AND TAKING INTO ACCOUNT THE SITUATION AS IT IS NOW.

AND WHAT WE'RE ANTICIPATING WILL HAPPEN AS WE LOOK TO THE IMPACT OF UNVACCINATED FOLKS WHO MAY DEVELOP COVID-19, UM, OR THOSE WHO ARE UNDOCUMENTED, UM, WHO MAY DEVELOP THE FLU, AND THERE WILL BE MORE TO COME AS WE FINALIZE THOSE GUIDANCE DOCUMENTS.

MOVING ON TO THE SECOND ROUND OF QUESTIONS, THIS ONE, AGAIN, FROM US AT KX, A N WITH HOSPITALIZATIONS GOING DOWN, ARE YOU STILL PURSUING MORE STAFF IN HOSPITALS? CAN YOU PAINT A PICTURE OF WHAT THE INSIDE OF OUR HOSPITALS LOOK LIKE RIGHT NOW, COMPARED TO A FEW WEEKS AGO, WE HAVE SOME DEDICATED STAFF, UM, IN OUR HOSPITALS AND OUTSIDE OF THE HOSPITALS, BECAUSE IT'S, UH, IT'S TRULY A VILLAGE APPROACH.

WE HAVE, UH, PUBLIC HEALTH WORKERS.

WE HAVE EMERGENCY

[00:20:01]

MANAGEMENT PEOPLE, EMS FIRST RESPONDERS, HOSPITAL, ER STAFF.

I SEE STAFF, NED SURGE STAFF, UM, ALL WORKING IN CONCERT TO TAKE CARE OF OUR COMMUNITY.

AND ALL OF THESE INDIVIDUALS HAVE BEEN RESPONDING TO THIS EVENTS SINCE MARCH.

SO WHILE OUR NUMBERS ARE GOING DOWN, WE HAVE TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THAT THE EFFORT IS, IS STILL PEOPLE DRIVEN.

AND SO WE HAVE PEOPLE THAT, UM, ARE WEARY.

AND SO IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT FOR US TO PROTECT OURSELVES AND OUR COMMUNITY, UM, FROM BECOMING ILL FROM COVID-19 BECAUSE IN THE FACE OF THAT, WE STILL HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF ROUTINE MEDICAL PROBLEMS. WE HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE STILL IN ICU AND ON VENTILATORS, AND THEY WILL CONTINUE TO NEED CARE FOR SOME TIME THERE'VE BEEN EXTENDED, STAYS IN ICU AS A RESULT OF THIS DELTA VARIAN, BECAUSE IT IS CAUSING MORE SEVERE ILLNESS.

UM, WE'VE BEEN TOLD THAT THE CONTRACT STAFF THAT'S BEEN PLACED IN OUR HOSPITALS, UM, WILL BE LEAVING IN THE COMING WEEKS.

SO IT'S GOING TO BE MORE, MORE, EVEN MORE IMPORTANT FOR OUR COMMUNITY TO PROTECT ITSELF AND TO GET VACCINATED.

THE NEXT QUESTION FROM COOPERATIVE GEO STUDIES SUMMARIZED BY VOX NEWS INDICATE A MUCH LOWER INCIDENTS OF CONTAGION AND ILLNESS SEVERITY AMONG SCHOOL CHILDREN FOR A NUMBER OF POSSIBLE REASONS.

DO, DOES LOCAL APH DATA SUPPORT THIS? WE ARE SAYING, UH, THAT THERE'S A SLOW DECLINE IN THE NUMBER OF CASES IN SCHOOLS.

AS MORE PEOPLE ARE SENDING CHILDREN TO SCHOOL WITH MASS, AND AS OUR POPULATION OF PEDIATRIC, UM, CHILDREN WHO ARE ABLE TO BE VACCINATED.

I E THOSE WHO ARE 12 YEARS AND OLDER, WE LOOK FORWARD TO, UH, THE PORTFOLIO APPROVAL OF THE VACCINE FOR THOSE UNDER THE AGE OF 12.

AND THAT WILL FURTHER IMPROVE THAT SITUATION.

BUT TO BE CLEAR, WE STILL HAVE THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF PEDIATRIC CASES WE'VE HAD, UM, EVER IN THIS PANDEMIC AS A RESULT OF THE DELTA VARIANT.

AND TO ALSO NOTE THAT CHILDREN ARE ABLE TO TRANSMIT THIS DISEASE TO ADULTS.

SO IT'S STILL IMPORTANT FOR US TO WEAR MASKS TO PROTECT THOSE AROUND VACCINATED.

AND IT'S STILL IMPORTANT FOR CHILDREN TO WEAR MASK INDOORS WHEN THEY'RE IN CLASS, AS PER THE GUIDANCE OF THE CDC, THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS, AND THOSE OF US IN THIS MEDICAL COMMUNITY.

AND I'LL JUST ADD, AS DR.

WACHS MENTIONED, UH, SOME OF THE DATA THAT WE'VE SEEN HERE IN AUSTIN, PUBLIC HEALTH, LOOKING AT INCIDENT RATES IN SCHOOL DISTRICTS THAT ENFORCED THE MASK MANDATE VERSUS THOSE THAT DID NOT THE INCIDENT RATE WAS DEFINITELY MUCH LOWER IN THOSE SCHOOL DISTRICTS.

UH, SO IT'S AN EXAMPLE OF HOW MASS DO WORK IN SITUATIONS LIKE THAT.

AND SO, UM, IT'S VERY IMPORTANT.

MASKING IS IMPORTANT.

UM, YOU KNOW, WE LOOK FORWARD TO PEDIATRIC VACCINES COMING ONLINE SO THAT WE CAN HAVE THE, THAT ADDITIONAL VULNERABLE POPULATION VACCINATED.

UH, BUT, UH, YESTERDAY TO DOES SEEM TO SUPPORT THAT, UH, MASKING DOES HELP, UH, LESSEN THE INCIDENT RATE IN SCHOOLS.

THE NEXT QUESTION FROM KUT PFIZER HAS ASKED THE FDA TO AUTHORIZE ITS COVID-19 VACCINE FOR KIDS AGE FIVE TO 11.

WHAT IS APH IS PLAN TO VACCINATE THIS GROUP? ONCE THIS VACCINE IS APPROVED? ONE OF THE GOOD THINGS ABOUT OUR CURRENT STATUS AND COMMUNITY IS THAT, AS I SAID, IN MY OPENING STATEMENT, VACCINE IS APLENTY.

WHEN WE LOOK AT THE DISTRIBUTION DATA FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICES, WE SEE THAT THE LION'S SHARE OF VACCINES ARE BEING ADMINISTERED BY PRIVATE PHARMACY, UM, FOLLOWED BY GOVERNMENT AND THEN HOSPITALS.

SO WE, UM, WE IMAGINE THAT THAT TREND WILL CONTINUE, THAT PARENTS WILL SEEK OUT CARE FROM EITHER THEIR CHILD'S PEDIATRIC PHYSICIAN OR FROM LOCAL PHARMACIES TO GET,

[00:25:01]

UM, THEIR KIDS SAFE.

THAT BEING SAID, UM, APA TESTS, A SHOTS FOR TOTS CLINIC.

WE ARE READY TO GO.

UM, WE ARE WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP WITH TRAVIS COUNTY, AGAIN FOR THOSE, UM, AREAS OF OUR COUNTY THAT DON'T HAVE A BUILT-IN INFRASTRUCTURE TO MAKE SURE THAT WE HAVE A MOBILE TEAMS THAT ARE READY TO GO.

WE KNOW THAT IT TAKES A SPECIAL TYPE OF NURSE TO ADMINISTER A SHOT TO OUR TINY TOTS.

AND SO WE WERE STAFFED UP AND WE HAD ALL THAT TO SAY, WE ARE READY TO GO.

UM, WE FULLY EXPECT TO BE ABLE TO OFFER THOSE NOT ONLY IN OUR CURRENT COVID OPERATIONS, BUT AT SOME OF OUR STANDARD FLU CLINICS AS WELL.

WE'RE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH AISD, UM, FOR THOSE KIDDOS THAT ARE ELIGIBLE RIGHT NOW, UM, WHERE AT A SCHOOL FACILITY, AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK PROVIDING SHOTS AND WE'LL CONTINUE THOSE PARTNERSHIPS, NOT ONLY WITH THAT SCHOOL DISTRICT, BUT WITH THE OTHER SURROUNDING SCHOOL DISTRICTS, TO MAKE SURE THAT THERE'S EQUITABLE ACCESS FOR OUR KIDS.

WHEN THAT COMES ONLINE.

THIS IS THE FINAL QUESTION FROM THE AUSTIN AMERICAN STATESMAN.

WHAT'S THE LIKELIHOOD THAT THE AUSTIN AREA WILL SHIFT BACK TO STAGE THREE EARLY NEXT WEEK.

IF THE TREND CONTINUES, IT'S VERY LIKELY THAT THAT WILL HAPPEN.

AND IT ALL DEPENDS ON US.

IT ALL DEPENDS ON COMMUNITY ACTION AND COMMUNITY, UM, DRIVEN RESPONSE TO THIS PANDEMIC.

IT ALWAYS HAS BEEN, SO WE ARE HOPEFUL.

WE'RE CONFIDENT.

UM, WE'VE DONE IT BEFORE AND WE WILL AGAIN, THANK YOU FOR THAT, DR.

WILKES, THAT CONCLUDES OUR QUESTION PORTION.

WE WILL NOW GO TO OUR CLOSING REMARKS AND WE'LL START WITH YOU, DR.

WACHS.

I JUST WANT TO SAY THANK YOU TO THE COMMUNITY.

UM, I'VE ASKED YOU TO CONTINUE YOUR EFFORTS TO GET OUT THERE AND GET VACCINATED OR GET A FRIEND VACCINATED.

UM, IT'S MORE IMPORTANT NOW THAN EVER THAT WE DO NOT STOP.

WHAT HAS BEEN WORKING.

UM, WE KNOW THAT WE HAVE A NEW REALITY.

THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE WHO ARE STILL ON VACCINATED, AND THAT MEANS THAT WE CANNOT LET OUR FOOT OFF THE GAS.

WE NEED TO KEEP MOVING FORWARD.

WE NEED TO CONTINUE TO WEAR A MASK WASH HANDS, SOCIALLY DISTANCE, STAY HOME.

WHEN SICK, IF YOU'VE BEEN EXPOSED TO SOMEBODY WHO'S HAD COVID 19, YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO THAT.

AND QUARANTINE, WE REALLY NEED TO CONTINUE WHAT WE KNOW WORKS SO THAT WE CAN CONTINUE TO KEEP OUR SCHOOLS OPEN OR ECONOMY OPEN AND GO LOOK FORWARD TO ENJOYING HOLIDAYS WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY.

I KNOW THAT IT'S A TOUGH TIME TO THINK ABOUT LOOKING FORWARD AT AND HAVING TO POSSIBLY WEAR A MASK OCCASIONALLY IN INDOOR SETTINGS, BUT THAT IS WHAT'S GOING TO PROTECT US UNTIL WE CAN GET OUR COMMUNITY PROTECTIVE OUR HOSPITAL SYSTEMS. WE NOW HAVE A MUCH MORE APPRECIATION OF, SINCE THIS PANDEMIC HAS SHOWN US THAT WE REALLY ARE DEPENDENT UPON A GROUP OF INDIVIDUALS WHO GET UP EVERY DAY AND SHOW UP TO WORK, TO TAKE CARE OF US WHEN WE NEED THE MOST.

AND IN THIS HOUR, IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT THAT WE DO NOT FORGET THAT.

UM, AS WE LOOK AT NUMBERS GOING DOWN, IT'S STILL IMPORTANT THAT WE SAY THANK YOU TO THEM BY DOING WHAT IT TAKES TO STAY HOME THING.

THANK YOU, DR.

WACHS DISAPPEAR YOU BACK UP BECAUSE SOMETHING, YOU SAID, YOU TALKED ABOUT IT A LITTLE TODAY.

AND IN OUR CONVERSATION LAST NIGHT, WE TALKED ABOUT WHAT OUR NEW REALITY IS.

AND THEN I'LL SHARE A PARABLE IN THE BOOK OF ADRIAN.

UM, LAST SUMMER, LIKE MOST PEOPLE COULDN'T GO ANYWHERE.

I HAD MONEY TO BLOKE.

I WANTED TO PUT SOME TREES IN MY BACKYARD, BOUGHT SOME TREES, WAITING FOR THEM TO BE DELIVERED.

GUYS CAME AND THEY WERE LIKE, OH, YOU DIDN'T CLEAR THE GRASS WHERE HE WANTS THE TREES TO GO.

SO YOU, YOU MIGHT HAVE SOME ISSUES.

I'M LIKE, AH, THEY'RE LIKE, NO WORRIES.

THEY DIG UP THE HOLES.

THEY PUT THE TREES IN, IT PUTS THE MULCHING.

THEY'RE BEAUTIFUL.

UM, FAST FORWARD TO LAST WEEK, LOOKING OUTSIDE OR TWO WEEKS AGO, LOOKING OUTSIDE THE GRASS IS ENCROACHING ON MY BEAUTIFUL MOAT.

SO I GO OUT THERE AND ME AND MY SON WERE PICKING THEM LIKE, THIS IS CRAZY.

I'M GOING TO GET SOME ROUNDUP, SPRAY IT UP.

SPRAYED, ROUND OUT, GRASS IS BROWN.

IT'S GREAT.

WE RAKE IT UP.

LOOK OUT THERE THE OTHER DAY.

THERE'S MORE GRASS LIKE, AH, WHAT IS THINGS WITH THIS GRASS? SO WE SPRAY AND WE PICK,

[00:30:01]

AND I SHARE THAT BECAUSE I, IN MY MIND, I'M LIKE, THIS IS HOW I NEED TO THINK ABOUT COVID.

I NEED TO KEEP ON TOP OF IT.

I CAN'T STOP THE THINGS, DOING THE THINGS THAT I KNOW THAT WORK TO KEEP MY TREE BEDS PRETTY, EITHER GOT TO PULL OR SPRAY.

IF I WANT THE MOST TO BE BEAUTIFUL, I'M PULLING OUR SPRAYING.

I'M NOT STOPPING.

IT'S IN A FIELD WHERE THERE'S GRASS, GRASS, FROZEN.

IT'S A LIVING THING.

IT'S GOING TO SPUR.

THAT'S WHAT GRASS IS SUPPOSED TO DO.

AND THAT'S THE SAME THING THAT THIS VIRUS IS TRYING TO DO.

IT'S A LIVING THING.

IT LIKE ANY OTHER THING THAT'S ALIVE, IT STRIVES TO, TO BE HERE.

AND SO I CANNOT GIVE UP IN THE SAME WAY THAT MY SON AND I ARE OUT THERE PULLING WEEDS AND SPRAYING.

I'VE COME TO REALIZE AS DR.

WASHINGTON SAID, THERE ARE POINTS IN OUR FUTURE WHERE MASKING WILL STILL BE IMPORTANT.

YOU KNOW, FLU SEASON.

WE'RE ALWAYS COUGHING YOUR HAND, WASH UP, KEEP YOUR HANDS CLEAN, STAY HOME WITH YOUR SICK.

I THINK WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND AS A REALITY THAT COVID WANTS TO BE HERE.

AND IF WE'RE GOING TO WIN, WE CAN'T TAKE OUR FOOT OFF THE GAMES.

WE DON'T ALLOW SMOKING INDOORS ANYMORE.

AND ONCE WE SEE THAT THOSE MITIGATIONS WORKED, WE'RE NOT TAKING SEATBELTS OUT OF CARS BECAUSE THE NUMBER OF FATALITIES HAVE DECREASED.

AND SO AS A COMMUNITY, WE NEED TO EMBRACE THAT.

WE ARE STRONGER, WE'RE SMARTER.

WE KNOW WHAT WORKS, WE'VE PROVEN IT.

AND WE JUST GOT TO KEEP ON WITH THAT, HAVE A SAFE WEEKEND.

IF YOU'RE GOING OUT TO ACL, GET YOUR BLAMED OUT MASK, PUT IT ON AND HAVE A GOOD TIME.

THANKS.

THAT'S A HARD ACT TO FOLLOW, BUT I'LL, I WILL JUST REMIND US A MONTH AGO.

WE WERE IN MUCH DIRE SITUATION THAN WE ARE RIGHT NOW, UM, WITH CASES AT THEIR PEAK AND DEATHS AS WELL.

UH, YOU KNOW, WE SEE EVERY POSITIVE INDICATION THAT OUR CASES ARE GOING DOWN AND LIKE THOSE MODELERS, UH, HAVE PREDICTIVE.

MAYBE WE HOPE THAT FLATTENING WILL TAKE PLACE THROUGHOUT THE HOLIDAY SEASON.

HOWEVER, A MODEL IS A PREDICTION AND THE PREDICTION IS ONLY AS GOOD AS WHAT WE KNOW YOU AS A COMMUNITY WILL DO TO KEEP OUR COMMUNITY SAFE.

AND AS I SAID, FOR ALMOST TWO YEARS NOW, THOSE THINGS THAT KEEP US SAFE ARE MASKING SOCIAL MEDIA, SOCIAL DISTANCING, STAYING HOME.

IF YOU'RE SICK AND WASHING YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY, THE ONLY ADVICE I HAD THAT CHANGED HAPPENED IN JANUARY OF 2021, AND THAT WAS GET YOUR FLU, GET YOUR, UH, COVID VACCINE.

AND SO WITH THAT, I WILL, I WILL SAY, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE PLENTY OF VACCINE OUT THERE, GET IT, IF YOU CAN.

AND WHILE YOU'RE AT IT, GET YOUR FLU VACCINE.

WE'RE HEADED INTO FLU SEASON.

AND IT IS ALL THE MORE IMPORTANT THAT WE KEEP ALL OF THESE VIRUSES AT BAY, UH, AND KEEP THEM AT A LOW LEVEL.

AND WE SAW THAT IT, IT WORKED FOR FLU LAST YEAR BECAUSE WE DID MASK AND PEOPLE DID TAKE THE TIME TO PROTECT THEMSELVES AND LIMITED THEIR EXPOSURE.

AND SO, AS THE DOCTOR WALKS IN, ADRIAN SAID, WE, WE WANT TO ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS THIS YEAR WITH OUR FAMILIES.

AND, UH, WE CAN DO THAT IF, IF WE MAKE THESE STEPS TO PROTECT OUR COMMUNITY AS A WHOLE, AND THAT REQUIRES INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY.

AND, UH, I, I HOPE THAT PEOPLE TAKE THIS MESSAGE AND IMPLEMENT IT INTO THEIR LIVES.

SO WE CAN HAVE A SAFE, UH, FEW MONTHS AS WE ENTER INTO FLU SEASON AND, UH, AND HAVE A SAFE HOLIDAY SEASON.

AND WITH THAT, I'LL END OUR INTERVIEW.

AND I HOPE EVERYBODY DOES ENJOY THE WEEKEND, WHETHER YOU'RE AT ACL OR NOT, IT SEEMS LIKE IT'S GOING TO BE GORGEOUS OUT.

SO, UH, TAKE CARE, AUSTIN, THANK YOU FOR THAT.

THAT CONCLUDES OUR MEDIA AVAILABILITY FOR TODAY.

THANK YOU TO DR.

DESMO WALKS AND SOME APH DIRECTOR, ADRIAN STIRRUP, AND OUR CHIEF EPIDEMIOLOGIST, JANET PICHETTE AND TO OUR POOL REPORTER GRACE READER FROM KX AM.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

HAVE A SAFE WEEKEND.



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