Advocates Call on City, County to Protect Most Vulnerable During COVID-19 Outbreak

March 16, 2020
Austin Chronicle

In a letter addressed to Austin Mayor Steve Adler and the City Council, the Travis County Commissioners Court, and other officials, the groups offer a comprehensive list of demands that target public education, welfare, housing, worker, immigrant, and disability rights, medical services, childcare, elder care, law enforcement, courts, and jails. (The complete list of demands is included below this post; the full letter can be viewed here.)

Among their recommendations, the groups urge city officials to take a “firm stance” on social distancing to help slow the spread of COVID-19 – not only banning public gatherings (as the city has done for 250 or more people) but following the lead of New York and Chicago by limiting operations and hours of business like bars and restaurants to keep those most susceptible among us safe.

“We know from other major cities that Austin’s community outbreaks are more likely to occur within our most vulnerable populations,” said Selena Xie, president of the Austin EMS Employees Association, during a (virtual) press conference Monday morning, March 16. “Given that we face an unprecedented situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, community advocates believe it warrants an unprecedented, swift, and necessary response from local and county authorities with the power to save and protect as many of the most vulnerable people as possible.”