September 28, 2021

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Austin, Texas, activates emergency alert system due to COVID crisis – Axios

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Austin, Texas, issued an emergency alert this weekend over the “severely worsening COVID-19 situation,” which has reached a “critical” point, officials said.

Why it matters: The Warn Central Texas alert system was designed to be activated during a disaster. “Our hospitals are severely stressed and there is little we can do to alleviate their burden with the surging cases,” Austin-Travis County Health Authority’s Desmar Walkes said in a statement.

“The public has to act now and help our we will face a catastrophe in our community that could have been avoided.”

— Walkes

  • “Hospital bed availability and critical care is extremely limited in our hospital systems, not just for COVID-19 patients, but for anyone who may need treatment,” Walkes added. “The community has to come together again and stave off disaster.”

The big picture: The alert, sent via text message, phone call and email to City of Austin and Travis County residents on Saturday, comes as the Delta variant drives a spike in COVID-19 cases across Texas.

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a state-wide ban on mask and vaccine mandates on July 29, saying “the path forward relies on personal responsibility.”
  • On the same day, he blocked the ground transportation of undocumented migrants detained by Customs Border Patrol, citing the surge in coronavirus cases as the basis for that order.

Go deeper: Texas schools not required to do contact tracing, new guidance says

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