We’ll be updating this story throughout the day Friday with the latest local news on the coronavirus pandemic. If you’d like to go through a roundup of COVID-19 news from Thursday, read it here. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.
Update at 9:49 a.m. – Retail-to-go starts up in Texas
Retail stores can begin curbside pickup today, marking another step in Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to restart the economy. For stores that had to close during the pandemic, selling anything to-go or by through curbside pickup is better than nothing.
“It definitely helps. It’s much needed,” Greg Crovey, owner of Kicking it ATX, tells KUT’s Jimmy Maas. “Anything at this moment will help until the world is open again.”
Grovey’s sneaker shop in the Domain was deemed nonessential and ordered closed last month. Since then, he has been getting by with online orders, but he’s down 75% of sales and had to lay off four staffers. He says “retail to-go” will not likely get him anywhere close to where the store was before the virus.
Some chains have yet to announce any curbside plans, while others are approaching it cautiously. Half Price Books will start pickup at its stores, but is operating with only 20 percent of the staff it had last month. According to its website, only five stores at Barton Creek Mall are planning to fill to-go orders.
Update at 5:30 a.m. — Now-virtual fundraiser supports art program for people experiencing homelessness
Give Art a Home, a fundraiser supporting the Austin nonprofit Art From the Streets, won’t be happening in person this year, but it’s taking a new form online.
Art From the Streets serves people experiencing homelessness by offering up an art studio four days a week where people can create works of art. It also hosts enrichment opportunities, art shows and art sales throughout the year.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced the studio to close for now, but the organization is raising money so it can continue providing its services once it opens again. The Give Art a Home Virtual Gala began Thursday evening and runs until noon on Sunday.
As part of the fundraiser, Art From the Streets is posting video clips about the program and updates on how its artists are doing during the pandemic. People can participate in an online silent auction or donate directly.
Catch up on what happened yesterday
Austin and Travis County form task force to look at how to reopen the economy in ‘mindful’ way
The City of Austin and Travis County are partnering to form a task force focused on reopening the local economy. The Opening Central Texas for Business Task Force will be spearheaded by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.
“We do need to find ways to adapt to COVID-19 and begin commerce in a mindful and measured way,” Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said at a news conference Thursday.
She reiterated that the most important concern when it comes to opening up businesses is to avoid overloading the capacity of area hospitals.
“There’s just no getting around the fact that an opening of commerce will increase our infection rate,” Eckhardt said. “We cannot afford herd immunity. Herd immunity would mean thousands of deaths in Travis County and the five-county region.”
The task force will make recommendations about the safest ways to reopen businesses after May 8. That’s when the current stay-at-home order for Austin and Travis County is set to expire.
Other local coronavirus news from Thursday:
The Austin Independent School District is resuming its weekend meal program. Starting Friday, families with students under the age of 19 can pick up packages of six meals at 16 schools between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The Austin City Council will set aside $2.3 million in federal money to house the homeless during the coronavirus pandemic. Austin Public Health debuted an online tool where potential patients can input their symptoms and then, if necessary, get a referral to a COVID-19 testing site. Austin City Council members approved moving $1.5 million from the city’s reserve funds into the Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund, a program for musicians who’ve lost wages because of the coronavirus pandemic. Abortion providers are no longer banned from performing the procedure in Texas, state officials said in a court filing Thursday morning,
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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