As businesses reopen and adjust to updated guidelines, Lakeway Mayor Sandy Cox emphasized the need for patience within the community. Not only are many businesses financially hurting, she said, but owners are also working to adapt to frequent changes.
The city’s website remains a resource for business owners looking for economic assistance and updated information, Cox said. She further drew attention to the newly launched Travis County Thrive Small Business Program, which will offer grants up to $40,000 for qualifying local businesses.
“I need every business in the city of Lakeway to apply for this,” Cox said June 18 during her weekly live broadcast on Facebook.
Cox said funds may be used for payroll, rent, utility assistance and more. This program is currently in the pre-application stage, and residents can acquire information on whether they qualify on the city’s website.
Though neighboring cities have developed their own small business assistance programs, that model has proven difficult for Lakeway, which does not have an economic development corporation.
Establishing such an entity requires voter approval, according to Cox. Previous councils brought the idea to voters, but it was never approved. This furthers the importance of CARES Act funding and Travis County’s Thrive program, she said.
“Every city in every county is handling this recovery a little differently, and they all have different tools in their tool shed,” Cox said.
Cox also addressed recent spikes in local coronavirus cases and hospital capacity. Her broadcast followed a June 16 press conference in which Gov. Greg Abbott assured Texans there is no shortage of hospital bed space available.
The Texas Department of State Health Services developed a model that divides hospital surge capacity at medical facilities into five levels.
Texas is currently at Level 5, according to Cox, who said this represents the hospital system’s ability to maintain current capacities. Other strategies are being utilized to accommodate potential surges, including converting hospital wings for COVID-19 care and adding beds.
“However, everyone is acknowledging that the data is rising,” Cox said. “But this really should be of no surprise.”
Officials anticipated an increase in cases as the state reopens and individuals begin interacting with the public, according to Cox, who stressed the importance of controlling the spread.
A safety precaution that Cox has routinely encouraged is the use of face masks.
As of June 18, Travis County has required businesses to mandate the use of face coverings for all employees and patrons while on the businesses’ premises. This new order, which will run through Aug. 15, applies to all Travis County jurisdictions, including the city of Lakeway.
A day prior to this updated order, Travis County set a new record, with 220 confirmed COVID-19 cases June 17—the highest single-day increase since the start of the pandemic.
According to Cox, cases have also increased locally. The Lake Travis area is reporting a total number of 68 coronavirus cases, 15 of which are considered active.
“It’s probably our highest growth we’ve had the entire time that we’ve been talking about COVID-19, other than the very first time we saw the numbers,” Cox said.
Residents returning to work or visiting local businesses should keep safety measures in mind. Other than wearing masks, Cox said individuals should avoid touching their face and should remain home if feeling ill.