Year in Review

COVID-19 has wrought many challenges on our community. While these have been enormously difficult times, collectively, we have stepped up as a community to face these challenges directly. Our successes are due in no small part to our residents, community leaders, and City and County public servants. Since the pandemic began in January 2020, our combined efforts have resulted in the Austin area experiencing the lowest total COVID-19 positive cases per capita compared to peer metropolitan cities in Texas. 

Active COVID-19 cases by Texas county (per 100,000)
The Austin Public Health Department Operations Center (APH DOC) activated starting on Feb. 5, 2020 and the Austin-Travis County Emergency Operations Center (A/TC EOC) activated starting March 3, 2020. Both operations centers continue to operate through this public health crisis. This has been an unprecedented activation, serving as the longest of our emergency operations center’s history. Together, more than 1,000 different employees from practically every department in the City of Austin have participated or been assigned to help with planning, operations, logistics, finance, and communication needs. Knowing the long-standing challenges of access to healthcare and resources, APH stood up a Social Services branch as part of the response to specifically reach Austinites disproportionality impacted by this virus. 
COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center
COVID-19 community outreach
Austin Public Health has been conducting on average 11,000 COVID-19 tests per month at multiple drive-thru and walk-up locations across the city.
The City established partnerships with two hotels to provide free isolation facilities so that people who have or have been exposed to the virus have a place to safely isolate when they cannot do so at home. Additionally, the City established seven protective lodges, five of which were located in the city limits, to serve as long-term facilities where individuals at higher risk of complications and death, including individuals experiencing homelessness, can stay in a safe environment. The City provided meals medical screenings, and on-site case management services to more than 1,500 people who stayed at the isolation facility and 400 who stayed at the protective lodges during the pandemic.  
The Capital Area Regional Trauma Advisory Council and the Austin-Travis County EOC have coordinated the distribution of more than 9.5 million pieces of personal protective equipment to medical facilities, nursing homes, and those who live in underserved areas in Austin region.  
Covid-19 testing
isolation facility
People in Austin-Travis County receive real-time information to make the best decisions for their loved ones. The City of Austin’s COVID-19 website and dashboards have received more than 17.5 million combined hits since their establishment in March. Additionally, the entire City of Austin COVID-19 website is available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Burmese, Arabic, Urdu, and traditional and simplified Chinese. Also, critical updates are posted in American Sign Language.  
COVID-19 site
COVID-19 dashboard
While we’ve worked hard to slow the spread, we’ve also worked doubly hard to help residents and businesses recover from the financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, within five months, the Economic Development Department established seven new programs to distribute millions in recovery dollars into the hands of: 
  • 72 childcare providers
  • 32 live music venues, performance spaces, art venues, and individual artists facing displacement
  • 1,600 creative sector workers 
  • 904 small businesses (grants and loans)
  • 1,500 performing musicians
  • 217 non-profit organizations
Additionally, we established the Austin Civilization Conservation Corps, a COVID relief program using $2.2 million, supporting seven programs with 75-plus positions, providing conservation related training, and employment for up to eight months. And the work continues. As of December 2020, the City has distributed $128.3 million dollars in economic support to impacted individuals, families, and businesses due to the combined effort of Austin Public Health, the Economic Development Department, Equity Office, Housing and Planning Department, Austin Energy, Austin Water, and others.   
Spread Kindness Not COVID message
COVID-19 flyers
COVID-19 beds
Fortunately, with news of a vaccine, we are hopeful the pandemic may be coming to an end. The City of Austin has been actively working with more than 100 people representing hospital networks, clinics, doctors, universities, Travis County, and our Austin community to develop and implement a plan that would effectively distribute COVID-19 vaccinations to our most vulnerable populations.