Creation of local health unit tabled in Lakeway

Council tabled the discussion on creating a local health unit and agreed to bring it back with more information at an upcoming meeting. (Screen shot courtesy city of Lakeway)
Council tabled the discussion on creating a local health unit and agreed to bring it back with more information at an upcoming meeting. (Screen shot courtesy city of Lakeway)

Council tabled the discussion on creating a local health unit and agreed to bring it back with more information at an upcoming meeting. (Screen shot courtesy city of Lakeway)

Citing a need for city officials to share information and provide for the health, safety and welfare of its citizens, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lakeway City Council has begun discussions about whether to create a local health unit.

“We’ve learned quite a bit in the last few months, and we’ve found a few gaps. Definitely Pong Fest has highlighted this,” Mayor Sandy Cox said July 6 of a recent party held June 20 in the Lake Travis area at which several attendees were later determined to be positive for COVID-19. “When you try to contact trace these pieces, the city has no plan with Austin Public Health, and APH is completely overwhelmed now with cases countywide.”

Because of that, APH has had much difficulty trying to determine the possible cases that could have emerged from that party, Cox said, reasoning the creation of a health unit in Lakeway would be another arm of information to help area officials fight and curtail the pandemic.

City documents state the health unit, similar to a local health department or public health district, may provide services such as infectious disease control and prevention services, environmental and consumer health programs, public health education and information services, laboratory services and administrative services.

The creation of the health unit means the city of Lakeway will become affiliated with the Texas Health and Human Services Department to exchange information and coordinate public health services, according to information from the city.

With regard to cost for the 2020-21 fiscal year, Cox said one option is to fund the health unit through federal monies received via the Coronavirus Relief Fund, or CRF.

During the July 6 discussion, some officials said the time to act is now, especially with the new school year around the corner, but others were not as quick to immediately endorse the concept.

Council Member Louis Mastrangelo said he is open to the idea of creating a health unit, but he would need more information on its capabilities before he would vote on a resolution.

Council tabled the discussion July 6 and agreed to bring it back with more information at an upcoming meeting.
By Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018.


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