Lakeway Mayor Sandy Cox updates the community in live broadcast alongside Lake Travis Fire Rescue

Mayor Sandy Cox appeared in a Facebook Live event April 21. (Courtesy city of Lakeway)
Mayor Sandy Cox appeared in a Facebook Live event April 21. (Courtesy city of Lakeway)

Mayor Sandy Cox appeared in a Facebook Live event April 21. (Courtesy city of Lakeway)

As the city of Lakeway continues to shelter in place, Mayor Sandy Cox has been regularly updating the community through a weekly broadcast on Facebook. On April 21, Cox was joined by members of Lake Travis Fire Rescue, Chief Robert Abbott and Battalion Chief Scott Fernandes.

Cox began the broadcast with positive news for the community. In the past week, the Lake Travis area saw one additional confirmed case of COVID-19.

“The last time I was here a week ago we had 12 new cases in one week,” Cox said, thanking the community for social distancing efforts.

Residents are still encouraged to utilize the city’s website for assistance, resources and updated information related to the pandemic.

Cox took a moment to summarize a number of state orders and announcements made by Gov. Greg Abbott throughout the week, the first being the reopening of state parks, Cox said.

Congregating and overnight camping are still prohibited in these areas. The same guidelines apply for Lakeway’s public parks, which have remained open throughout the shelter-in-place orders.

While city officials are still awaiting greater detail on the order, Abbott announced plans to relax certain restrictions on medical procedures. Previously, nonessential medical procedures were halted in an effort to preserve protective equipment and available hospital beds, according to Cox.

Despite the potentially eased restrictions, Cox still encouraged residents to postpone their nonessential health care needs for the time being.

State orders are also in place to aid retail businesses currently closed due to the coronavirus.

Local retailers will soon be able to offer curbside orders as part of Abbott’s retail-to-go plan. According to Cox, more information will become available April 24.

“This came from a strike force that [Abbott] put together of 25 professionals in our central Texas area,” Cox said, adding a multiphase plan will be utilized to safely reopen Texas. Further announcements will be made the week of April 27.

Cox emphasized the importance of thoughtfulness during this reintegration process, avoiding a resurgence or second wave of COVID-19 cases.

“If we move too fast to reopen Texas, we may be right back where we are today, “ Cox said. “We’re being cautious but also mindful that we’ve got to get people back to work, and we’ve got to get the economy restarted.”

On a local level, Lakeway has been working with business owners to establish a three-phase plan to reopen the city. Included in that plan are methods for social distancing, disinfecting and other necessary precautions.

“We’re preparing here in Lakeway to make sure that as the governor is making his announcements we’re ready to go,” Cox said.

Cox also called upon local business owners who have applied for the Paycheck Protection Program, which according to Cox has been completely depleted.

Alongside the Lake Travis Chamber of Commerce, the city is looking for information on how many local businesses were successful in obtaining those funds. A survey on the subject will be launched shortly.

“We really want to know very specifically how people have been affected so that we’re feeding that information to our congressman and our senators,” Cox said.

Updates from Lake Travis Fire Rescue

Lake Travis Fire Rescue consists of six fire stations and 104 square miles, according to Robert Abbott, adding the department has partnerships in place with the city of Austin and other emergency service districts.

The department shared the local call volume, which experienced a small decrease in medical calls, he said. However, the department is continuing to perform fire and technical rescues.

In the last 48 hours, the department had two technical rescues involving the use of STAR Flight, which stands for shock-trauma air rescue. According to Robert Abbott, the department remains fully staffed.

Similar to any city government, LTFR is evaluating the potential economic effects of the pandemic, specifically on the department’s 10-year capital improvement plans.

“We are continuing to move forward with the plans that we’ve set forth and funded this year,” Robert Abbott said, one of those plans being the goal to bring in new firefighters.

The hiring process has been moved to a virtual platform, which the department has utilized in the past for candidates deployed for active duty overseas.

Robert Abbott noted LTFR has been extremely careful in its plan to serve the community during the outbreak.

“We don’t want to cut services and we’ve been very careful and cautious to develop mitigation plans to answer the calls while protecting our employees,” he said, adding if an uptick in confirmed cases does occur, LTFR is prepared.

He developed a task force early on in the situation to keep personnel safe, according to Fernandes.

“We developed an operating manual, one that addresses out responses," Fernandes said. “It addresses how we prepare ourselves and train for these unusual times.”

In accordance with these guidelines, LTFR may approach a residence in a different way when responding to an emergency call.

Cox concluded the broadcast by encouraging the community to reach out and support the struggling local businesses. Residents can purchase gift cards online to be used at a later date.

“Remember all these businesses that you went to for gift cards for your raffles and your silent auctions and so forth,” Cox said. “They gave and they gave, and this is the time to give back to them.”

By Amy Rae Dadamo
Amy Rae Dadamo is the reporter for Lake Travis-Westlake, where her work focuses on city government and education. Originally from New Jersey, Amy Rae relocated to Austin after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in May 2019.


Map of plans for the Bee Creek Sports Complex
Travis County awards construction contract for Bee Creek Sports Complex

Progress on the sports complex was previously stalled due to utility planning issues but is set for completion in 2022.

Austin ISD and other districts in Central Texas are waiting for further TEA guidance on mask requirements. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin ISD, other Central Texas school districts await TEA guidance on updated mask mandates

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced March 2 that mask mandates and business capacity restrictions will be lifted in Texas.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced March 2 that mask mandates and business capacity restrictions will be lifted in Texas. (Courtesy Office of the Texas Governor)
Gov. Greg Abbott lifts statewide mask mandate, business restrictions in Texas

With vaccine distribution increasing, Gov. Greg Abbott said "people and businesses don't need the state telling them how to operate." Some local officials are pushing back, saying the relaxed restrictions are coming too early.

Homes are expected to continue to sell at record rates in the Lake Travis-Westlake region and the five-county metropolitan statistical area. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Housing inventory in Lake Travis-Westlake region continues to fall

Despite the arrival of new developments, the demand for housing in the Lake Travis-Westlake region and Greater Austin area is at an all-time high, according to the Austin Board of Realtors' January 2021 Central Texas housing report.

A disaster declaration issued by the city is in place to ease damage claims made by area residents, according to Mayor Sandy Cox. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Lakeway City Council extends disaster declaration for Texas winter storm

The disaster declaration eases insurance claims filed to cover storm damage.

Photo of a woman receiving a vaccine
Travis County vaccine providers receive 46,540 doses week of March 1

Seton Medical Center in Austin received the largest allocation this week, with over 14,000 doses.

Beaux Medspa opened in West Lake Hills in February. (Courtesy Beaux Medspa)
Beaux Medspa opens on Bee Caves Road and more business news from the Lake Travis-Westlake region

Here is the most recent business news from the Lake Travis-Westlake area.

Reports surfaced Feb. 22 of dogs falling ill after swimming in Lake Travis. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)
Blue-green algae toxic to animals found in Hudson Bend area of Lake Travis

Solid organic material was taken for testing from the edge of Travis Landing located on the east side of Hudson Bend. Those samples indicated the presence of algae and decaying algae containing cyanotoxin, which is fatal to dogs and other animals.

A new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine could help expand vaccination availability in Travis County, according to local health officials. (Courtesy Pexels)
Johnson & Johnson vaccine could mean additional supply, easier distribution rollout in Travis County

If approved, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be a valuable weapon against the ongoing pandemic, according to local health officials.

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during a winter storm that hit Texas the night of Feb. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislators probe energy officials over power failures, lack of preparation heading into winter storm

The Texas Legislature held hearings Feb. 25 with energy companies including Oncor Electric Delivery and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in response to last week’s historic winter storm, which left millions of Texans without electricity for days.

A tree's branches fell on a car in North Austin in the midst of Winter Storm Uri in February. With downed tree limbs and burst water lines causing property damage across Austin, the city has directed additional funds into programs to help some homeowners with emergency home repairs. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Still in crisis mode, Austin City Council initiates recovery following winter storm

With 200 to 400 apartment and condo complexes in Austin still without water, City Council is aiming to direct aid and relieve some of the financial burden felt by residents following the devastating winter storms.