We’ll be updating this story throughout the day Tuesday with the latest local news on the coronavirus pandemic. If you’d like to go through a roundup of COVID-19 news from Monday, read it here. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.
Update at 6:10 a.m. — Austin ISD to provide meals to caregivers starting Tuesday
Caregivers picking up meals for children from Austin Independent School District’s meal distribution sites will be able to receive meals themselves beginning Tuesday.
The Austin City Council passed a resolution earlier this month allocating up to $2.2 million in funding the city received from the federal coronavirus relief bill to pay for caregiver meals delivered through Austin ISD and Del Valle ISD.
Adults accompanying children to meal sites or who have documentation of the children they are picking up meals for will be able to receive meals, according to an Austin ISD press release. The meals are prepared by local restaurants. Easy Tiger is providing caregiver meals at Austin ISD sites during the first two weeks of the program.
“Partnering with the City of Austin to serve caregiver meals prepared by local restaurants helps to provide additional food security for our families during these challenging times,” said Anneliese Tanner, AISD’s executive director of food service and warehouse operations, in the release.
Austin ISD has been providing students meals throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Distribution sites and times can be found here.
Update at 6:10 a.m. — In planning for next budget cycle, Central Health focuses on ongoing COVID-19 response, increased access to care
Central Health expects the economic impact of COVID-19 to stretch beyond the current fiscal year. The local health care district held a virtual community meeting Monday evening to kick off the public engagement process for planning its fiscal year 2021 budget.
“We haven’t made as much progress on the current fiscal year 2020 budget resolution priorities as we would like,” Monica Crowley, Central Health’s chief strategy and planning officer, said during the meeting. “And we are all aware that the COVID-19 impact is going to continue not just throughout the end of this fiscal year, but it will continue into the next fiscal year.”
The current fiscal year ends in September. Crowley said the coronavirus crisis is resulting in a narrowed process for developing the next budget (usually planning begins earlier in the year), and the list of proposed priorities is slimmer than normal.
Proposed priorities include ongoing COVID-19 responses like additional testing capacity, continued support for contact tracing and continued educational outreach regarding how to stay safe during the pandemic. Improving access to care in Eastern Travis County is another priority.
Federal funding has been infused into local health care facilities, including $3.7 million for Central Health’s CommUnityCare Clinics, to help offset the effects of the pandemic. Central Health has submitted an application to FEMA for public assistance as well, Deputy Chief Financial Officer Lisa Owens said.
While planning for the next fiscal year, the district will be taking into account the uncertainty that lies ahead, including the possibility of a second COVID-19 wave, Owens said.
“Looking into the future, we are very focused on trying to make sure that we plan conservatively, taking into account the knowns but also the unknowns as we look at fiscal year 2021,” Owens said.
The public engagement process of developing the budget, including an online survey, will take place through May and June, and a proposed budget will be presented to Central Health’s board in August with public hearings and adoption in September.
Catch up on what happened yesterday
Gov. Abbott says child care services can open now; bars can begin to reopen Friday
As more businesses begin to reopen, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said child care is essential and announced that providers would be allowed to reopen immediately.
The governor also said at a news conference Monday that bars would be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity starting Friday. Restaurants will be allowed to expand to 50% then, too, he said. These limits will not apply to outdoor patios where customers can maintain safe distances.
The reopenings come with a number of restrictions. For instance, customers at bars will have to be seated and won’t be able to order from or sit at the bar itself. Tables will be restricted to six people and dancing will be discouraged.
Abbott said camps and sports activities, including professional sports (without fans), will be able to resume May 31. Schools can reopen for summer classes as soon as June 1, he said.
Other local coronavirus news from Monday:
Travis County voters won’t be able to cast ballots in grocery stores during July’s runoff election because it’s too risky, County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said. Austin ISD says buses with free Wi-Fi are available to students from 8 a.m. until 4:15 p.m. through May 22 to accommodate Advanced Placement testing. Gyms, office buildings and nonessential manufacturers were allowed to open in Texas on Monday, as the next phase of Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to reopen the Texas economy kicked in.
What’s happening statewide? Check out special coverage from KERA for North Texas, Houston Public Media, Texas Public Radio in San Antonio and Marfa Public Radio.
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