Categories
Current Events

First Case at a Kid’s School

One of my kiddo’s schools has their first positive COVID case within the building. They announced this via a letter to parents today.

Stay safe, everyone. I hate this and hope we can overcome this soon.

Categories
Current Events

Bars To Reopen Next Week

Gov. Abbott has ordered that bars can reopen starting October 14th if the county judge opts-in and only in areas where the COVID hospitalization rate is under 15%.

Here’s the current status of that:

TSA RegionMain City% Hospitalization
for COVID, Oct 7
AAmarillo15.8%
BLubbock13.5%
CWichita Falls4.3%
DAbilene6.6%
EDFW7.6%
FParis16.9%
GLongview/Tyler11.9%
HLufkin16.8%
IEl Paso14.0%
JMidland/Odessa8.6%
KSan Angelo0.8%
LBelton/Killeen3.8%
MWaco14.1%
NCollege Station8.7%
OAustin2.9%
PSan Antonio5.5%
QHouston4.4%
RGalveston9.8%
SVictoria17.4%
TLaredo21.9%
UCorpus Christi9.8%
VRGV14.6%
Statewide7.6%

As of today, those in the Amarillo, Paris, Lufkin, Victor, or Laredo regions couldn’t reopen whether or not the county opts-in. Lubbock, Longview, El Paso, Waco, and the Rio Grande Valley are borderline, but under 15%.

You can watch Gov. Abbott’s announcement on his Facebook page:

Categories
Food

My Official Statement on Pumpkin Spice Mac & Cheese

Kraft has released a new flavor of Mac & Cheese (or Kraft Dinner for my Canadian friends)—Pumpkin Spice Mac and Cheese.

Ignoring that I am finding it impossible to type “Pumpkin Spice Mac & Cheese” without having to delete “latte”, I wish to clarify my position on it.

I’ve never tried it. I don’t plan on it. Despite being my namesake and a brand that I have long, fond memories growing up surrounded by and helping me form my identity, we don’t eat much Kraft food.

My eldest is allergic to dairy, so mac and cheese just isn’t a staple in these parts.

Nevertheless, if it rocks your world, good for you. Who am I to judge? Perhaps in a couple generations, kids will be shocked to hear that we didn’t assume “pumpkin spice” when making mac and cheese.

While being the only gringo in a Latina household, we can’t believe people pay $15 for a piece of avocado toast. For us, that’s just a quick and easy snack because we always have bread and avocados handy.

But, for a generation, it is a thing. Maybe this is that too.

For me and my household, though, the only pumpkin spice anything we will be eating is my wife’s cookies. And maybe Starbucks pumpkin scone.

Categories
Technology

Mozilla Layoffs

From the Mozilla Blog, they announced they are laying off more folks. They had a restructure at the start of the year and, sadly, more people gone now.

I’ve always liked Mozilla. Their open-source credentials are strong, MDN is my source for web docs, and I feel like they’re trying to make the web a better place.

Always painful to see company like that struggle. I hope they figure out their path.

Categories
Current Events

COVID in Austin Update (July 28)

Education (aka What The Hell, Texas?)

To preface, a reminder that the Attorney General in Texas is a totally separate elected official from the Governor. Unlike on the Federal level, the AG does not serve the chief executive.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a non-binding letter regarding local heath authority’s abilities to close schools. Paxton—whose name may ring a bell as he’s under indictment for felony securities fraud—said that the local health authorities ability to wholesale close schools down does not exist and those orders are not legal.

The Texas Education Agency, which had revised their funding guidelines to indicate the schools closed upon order of local health officials would continue to receive funding as long as they continue virtual instruction, revised their guidelines again to say that schools that close due to health authority orders would not get funding (outside of the TEA’s stated phase-in period).

Whether or not the AG’s opinion is right (I have to admit, in just reading the text of the statute, it sounds like a bit of a stretch that the legal grounds for the order intended to be used in such a broad way), with schools slated to start (in some form) in just a few weeks, this constant flip-flopping on what may or may not be allowed is inexcusable at this point.

While this news was breaking, Dr. Mark Escott, the interim health authority for Travis County/Austin held two briefings almost at the same time. He presented to the City Council, then jumped over to the Travis County Commissioners Court meeting.

In his comments to those bodies, he indicated he is advising schools to try to stay at or under 25% capacity when they reopen, to prioritize those who must in school.

He also expressed that he was surprised by UT’s announcement that they’re going to fill the football stadium to half capacity, which still ends up around 50k.

His goal is to advise districts on the

State of Texas

In some good news, Texas—as a whole—has the lowest Rt in the country right now. Rt as you recall is effective rate of transmission. It has some shortcomings—it depends on test results and can lag—but still worth noting.

Rt for Texas is estimated at being 0.89. This means that every infected person is expected to make 0.89 other people sick. The virus isn’t spreading all that fast right now.

On the bad news front, South Texas is kicking their ass kicked right now.

Hidalgo County (McAllen) saw 64 deaths today. To give you some sense of the scale, Hidalgo has a population of 869,000 as of 2019 and say 64 deaths today. Travis County (Austin) has a population of 1.3 million people hit a record this last weekend with 12 deaths.

Hidalgo has almost 900 hospitalized and 228 in the ICU. Mind-blowing.

8,342 new cases with 164 new deaths (using the new death certificate method). Positivity continues to drop—12.83% today. Hospitalization data is still messed up.

Travis County (Austin)

So far, so good.

  • 223 new cases.
  • 3 new deaths.
  • 370 in the hospital.
  • 133 in the ICU.
  • 97 on ventilators.

We’re making process, slow and steady.

Categories
Current Events

COVID in Austin Update (July 27)

After going nearly 40 days with daily updates, I’ve been a little lax. A combination of having a recuperating wife at home and news is a bit light on the weekends.

This is going to be here awhile.

Governor Abbott issued two orders today that helps underscores that he’s expecting the virus to remain an issue for sometime to come.

First, he waived certain grade-promotion requirements tied to the STAAR exam. The standardized tests in Texas public schools starting in 3rd grade become part of the requirements to promote to the next grade, but not this year. Kids have to take the exams, but 3-8th graders won’t be held back if they don’t pass.

Secondly, he issued a proclamation to extend Early Voting for the November elections an extra week. Gov. Abbott’s perspective has been that mail-in ballots are problematic, but we can mitigate the issues with the virus by extending early voting, thus allowing people to vote in less crowded conditions.

In either case, this is the first real sign that he’s not expecting things to be back to normal anytime soon.

Baseball

On the local front, the youth baseball league I help run received word from Austin’s Parks and Rec that our facilities will be closed through September 8th. Previously, we were ordered closed until July 31. In our case, we’re a private non-profit that has a contract with the City to run youth sports on city parkland at Bartholomew Park, so they can order us closed.

On the national front, I’m sure most of y’all saw that the Miami Marlins have a bit of an outbreak on their hands with about a dozen players testing positive. As of tonight, MLB says this isn’t the nightmare and play will proceed.

State Releases Nursing Home Data

After a bit of legal back and forth, the State via HHS will be releasing facility-level information on known cases. You can download Excel spreadsheets for nursing or assisted living facilities from the HHS site.

State of Texas Data

This has been frustrating over the weekend.

Due to changes in who and how hospitals report census information to, the State has had incomplete hospitalization information since July 23rd.

It’s kinda pointless to talk about it. We have at least 9,781 COVID hospitalizations in Texas, but that’s only with 82% of hospitals reporting.

Our statewide positivity rate continues to decline—13.22% now.

New cases seem to have peaked, with a 4,267 reported today.

On the deaths front, DSHS changed the way they tally these numbers. Before, each local jurisdiction reported deaths up to the state based on what they’ve confirmed to be a COVID death.

As of today, they are updating to only report those deaths that are listed as COVID on the death certificate using that data. The plus side means the state can have demographic data a bit faster.

However, it means we’ve been unreporting deaths as there are more based on the death certificate than the previous method. Yesterday, the tally was just over 5,000 deaths. Now, it is about 5,700.

Travis County (Austin)

Generally speaking, we’re still heading in a good direction and we’re probably the best-managed major city in Texas right now.

Today, we saw 240 new cases or 275.57 based on a 7-day rolling average. Yesterday’s 262 7-day average (yesterday was an incredibly low 79 new cases) was the lowest since June 23rd.

We have 390 in the hospital—lowest since July 1. We have 140 in the ICU and 97 on ventilators. Hospital admissions are down to 47/day 7-day averag—lowest since June 24.

Deaths continue to be at a high. Another double-digit day today with 11 deaths, keeping our 7-day rolling average above 6 deaths/day.

All in all, we are slowly looking a little bit better. I’m hoping that we al continue to use best practices to stop the spread and not require additional orders. 🤞