(spoiler alert…. the answer is *together*)
Make no mistake… we get to decide how quickly–and with what force–this virus enters our city. As individuals and together as a community, the choices are ours to make. And everywhere, I see our community pulling together with concern for our neighbors. Once again, I’m proud of Austin.
A lot has happened since I declared a local disaster to help slow the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. More local positive test results have surfaced and we have reason to expect some degree of community spread. Reports from other affected areas paint a picture that grows clearer by the hour. What Austin does in this moment matters. Data indicates that limiting contact between individuals can slow the spread of the virus, giving our healthcare facilities and staff some breathing room to prepare for the next phase of the response.
Cities have been making difficult decisions for weeks and finally states and the federal government are taking some action designed to slow the spread of the virus in order to protect the most vulnerable and conserve medical resources.
Now, we need your help.
Here’s how you can be an active part of our community response:
- Stay home if you’re not feeling well. Perhaps nothing is as important as this!
- Stay home when you can. Where possible, tele-commute and use online education tools.
- Limit your exposure. Avoid non-essential travel and exposure to groups of more than 10 people.
- Stay informed. Go to http://www.austintexas.gov/COVID19 for a lot of key information in one place, including up to the minute updates on cancellations, facilities safety and the latest on local orders with links to local, state and national information and resources.
- Practice excellent hygiene. The “social distancing” (keeping 6 feet between yourself and others) and handwashing/sanitizing REALLY DO WORK. So keep at it.
- Ensure supplies for others. Grocery stores continue to be restocked with food and Austin Water is safe to drink. No need for excess bottled water, food or cleaning supplies. Buy what you need, but leave some for your neighbors. We should all consider not going to grocery stores the first hour they’re open so that older folks can shop in less crowded, recently sanitized conditions. [Note: the elderly and medically fragile should have someone else doing their shopping for them.] And, if we all practice normal buying patterns, everyone will have enough and the lines will shorten.
- Call your doctor if you feel sick. Don’t go to the emergency room if you think you have symptoms. A phone call to a doctor is the first step toward possible testing. If you don’t have a primary care physician, call CommUnityCare at 512-978-9015.
As we work together to remain calm, support one another and slow the spread of the virus, we’re also working hard to help vulnerable workers and businesses weather the storm. It takes an army of retail staff, restaurant workers, childcare professionals, creatives, musicians and artists of all stripes to make this city a great place to live in and visit. Until Austin reopens for business, we’re taking steps to provide support, help keep businesses alive and workers afloat.
To help with that, I’m asking vendors, lenders and landlords to work with their customers. With flexibility and integrity, we can get through this singular historical moment and emerge in the best position to restore our economy. This is the time to show grace as much—and as often–as we are able. Our priorities include:
- Lending support for businesses. Helping small businesses connect to federal, state and private lending programs to keep their businesses afloat.
- Worker/Employer relief and assistance. Working with state and federal governments to unlock maximum benefits and activating the local philanthropic community to help mitigate lost wages. Workforce Solutions, Capital Area has resources and tools to help avoid layoffs and to offer support and planning when they need to happen.
- Business resilience planning. Helping all Austinites think creatively about how customers, companies and communities can connect and continue to do business… from a prudent distance.
If you’re looking for other ways to help, the Stand With Austin Fund of the Austin Community Foundation is accepting donations to help those economically affected—and least likely to recover without help—by the cancellation of major events. My office will be sharing regular updates on ways to contribute, show support and continue to look out for one another.
As a city, we are at our best at times like these. We work together to do what is required of us and we do it with humor, great food and more often than not, a little music. So don’t panic. Take care of your mental health and your loved ones. Order out and tip well. Right now, you can even catch virtual performances by some of Austin’s best acts.
I’ll be in touch again soon, but if you have questions not answered by the City’s COVID-19 website or know of a community need my office should know about, shoot us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your efforts. We’re all in this together.