Tháng Ba 2, 2021

Austin-Travis County mandate face coverings, extend stay-at-home orders through May 8

Both the County Judge and I issued extensions of the ordersthat have been in place now for about a month.

The orders are the ones that have had us sheltering at home and only going outif you have to do something that's essential or critical.

You may recall that the President's order goes through the end of April.

The governor's order goes through the end of April.

We went a week beyond that till May 8.

There are two things with this order that I just want to touch onthat are different.

The first, and I think significant, is the provision that takes the recommendationwe had been making about wearing face coverings where everyone when they go outside, it now makes that mandatory.

It's something that each of us now need to be doing.

A lot of people are asking us why now.

Why this step.

Why is it mandatory.

The percentage of individuals who are asymptomatic who have the ability to spreadis larger than we thought it was.

Those that have very, very mild symptoms where they may not even think they're sick or, you know, may not be as severe enough for them to seek health care may be able to spread it.

And we also have increasing evidence that early on in the disease, where people are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms may be, in fact, the time when they are most infectious.

So for these reasons it's critical for us to take this next step of mandatory maskingor facial coverings to help mitigate that risk.

Remember that these are cloth face coverings.

These are not surgical masks.

They're not N-95s.

You don't need this level of coverage if you're at the grocery storeor if you're walking your dog or if you're going to the dry cleaners.

You need a simple cloth face coverings.

Remember that the purpose of these face coveringsis not to protect you from other people.

It's to protect other people from you in the circumstance that you may beasymptomatic with the disease.

Or mildly symptomatic.

Again, to give us that extra layer of protection.

Our second order does go through May 8 becausewe need that time to see, for instance, in the Unacast data with an Easter weekend spike in activity, it's probable that we're going to see a spike in cases two weeks later.

We do know that there is a strong correlationbetween our behaviors and our numbers of cases.

So we will be looking to see if we are getting a spike in cases two weeks since.

The second provision that we had talked about enforcement and recognized thatthese kinds of orders carry with them criminal penalties and the force of law.

We also recognize that so much of these orders, as you have seen, require us to self-police.

We're never going to have enough sheriffs or police officersto actually enforce this that way.

It's got to be something that we want to do in the communitythat we want to save lives around us.

We want to help protect the people around us.

And the hope and the expectation is that this is something that we will adopt as a community.

And if we do that then we're fine.

If not, then obviously the county and city is going to have to step up enforcement.

But it's something that we have to embrace.

It's something we have to embrace now.

It's something that's critical over the next three week period that, combined withsocial distancing, may put us in a good position in three or four weeks to start opening the window a little bit.

To start returning people back to work.

Returning businesses back to operation.

But we cannot do that unless we really embrace that social distancing.

Unless we really embrace that facial masking so that we can be in a situation where we just have a trickle of new cases coming inand we can effectively monitor and manage that risk for the community.

COVID-19 is not going away.

We don't yet know exactly how the virus circulates in the community.

We don't yet have a treatment or a vaccine.

So, with these uncertain times, we've had totake some dramatic and definite action.

This community has just been tremendous at respondingin a way that is so effective.

We will not be able to regulate and enforce our way out of COVID-19But.

Through innovation and adaptation and sharing, we will find new ways to do business.

New ways to interact with one another that are satisfying, that are fortifyingand that help us save lives.


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