Austin City Council, Travis County Commissioners Court will hold rare joint session to address 'dire' COVID-19 status

Photoo of Travis County sign
Travis County commissioners will meet with Austin City Council in a rare joint session Jan. 19. (Community Impact staff)

Travis County commissioners will meet with Austin City Council in a rare joint session Jan. 19. (Community Impact staff)

Austin City Council and Travis County Commissioners Court will hold a joint session Jan. 19 at 9 a.m. to discuss the local status of the coronavirus pandemic. It will be the first joint session in recent history for the city and county governmental bodies.

According to Travis County Judge Andy Brown, this month's record-high coronavirus case counts and hospitalizations have created an all-hands-on-deck sense of urgency.

"Since the beginning of this pandemic, county and city leaders have been working closely together. This joint session with the Austin City Council gives us another opportunity to coordinate our responses and receive the most up-to-date information," Brown told Community Impact Newspaper via email.

City and county leaders will hear updates at the meeting from Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden and Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County interim health authority.

"Austin-Travis County's COVID-19 situation is dire. On Thursday, January 14, our community hit a new record for the largest single-day increase with 1,108 new COVID-19 cases. We are also nearing 600 people in Travis County who have lost their lives due to COVID-19. These numbers are tragic," Brown said.

The Austin area's daily average of new coronavirus-related hospitalizations is down slightly from a peak of 91.3 as of Jan. 9, but with a seven-day moving average of 87.6 hospitalizations per day, admission rates are still significantly higher than they were in July—during the last peak—when around 75 COVID-19 patients were being admitted daily. With hospital capacity strained, APH has opened the Austin Convention Center as an alternative care site for lower-acuity coronavirus patients.

Members of the public interested in viewing the joint session may stream the virtual meeting here.
By Olivia Aldridge

Multi-Platform Journalist

Olivia hosts and produces Community Impact Newspaper's podcasts, The Austin Breakdown, The Houston Breakdown and The DFW Breakdown. She launched the podcasts after nearly three years as a reporter for the newspaper, covering public health, business, development and Travis County government for the Central Austin edition. Olivia worked as a reporter and producer for South Carolina Public Radio before moving to Texas.