FULL INTERVIEW: Mayor Adler on coronavirus in Austin and his advice to Austinites


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Mayor Steve Adler addressed the city’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and what happens next during an interview with KXAN early Sunday morning.

KXAN has published the Mayor’s latest comments in their entirety, including his advice for Austinites going forward.

KXAN: Have you been briefed about the British Airways flight that landed at Austin-Bergstrom last night? Are you concerned about travelers making the situation in our city worse this week?

MAYOR ADLER: “I’ve heard just a little bit. I’ve asked a lot of questions and expect to get some answers back this morning.

“This is a virus that is coming to our city. The containment strategies that you have, you do as long as you can.

“Right now in our community we need to be focused on stopping the virus from spreading. So what I am most concerned about is whether or not everybody in our community is washing their hands frequently, whether they’re avoiding shaking hands. I’m most concerned about whether or not people that aren’t feeling well, are they not going to work, because that’s incredibly important. And we don’t want people in big groups.

“Things change, we move into different stages – a week ago I was on a video urging people to go out to restaurants and clubs. I’m not advocating that now. People should stay in small groups, especially people that are older.”

KXAN: Is there any specific information you’re able to give right now about the flight that came in last night?

MA: “Not a lot of information on that. I’ve asked a lot of questions about that and I should have some answers back this morning.”

KXAN: Are city staffers being encouraged to work from home? How many are actually able to do that?

MA: “The City Manager has been meeting this weekend with the human relations department in the city, they are meeting all day today. I expect him to be issuing some notices to City employees, probably some time late today.”

KXAN: Are we able to get some clarification on the mass gatherings of 250+? We’ve had questions about how that will affect businesses that employ more than 250 people, restaurants that can serve more than 250 people.

MA: “At this point in the city we have outlawed, or ordered, that people not gather in groups of 250 or more. The reason for that is because when you get that many people together, if there is going to be a spread of the virus it hits so many people so quickly, that you have a real geometric spread.

“So yes, we are by order saying we should not have those kind of events. Quite frankly, we have recommended that people don’t end up in groups of people of 125, 150 or more.

“And when you’re out, try to increase your social separation. If you’re going to be at a restaurant, try to see if you can be six feet away from the table that’s next to you.”

KXAN: So are you still encouraging Austinites to go to restaurants? Or are you encouraging Austinites to stay at home and not go out to eat or to a bar?

MA: “I’m recognizing that this could be something that we are doing for an indefinite period of time. Whatever we do has to be something that we can sustain over time.

“We are not telling people you can’t leave your homes, but to the degree that you don’t have to be out probably a better thing. We are not saying you shouldn’t go to restaurants, but we certainly don’t want any restaurants with more than 250 people, we have ordered that. If you are in a restaurant, try not to be on top of other people, increase the social distancing, social separation.”

KXAN: Regarding the new guidelines the city put out for contacts of patients yesterday – how are you getting that message out, aside from traditional media?

MA: “We are posting it, we’re getting those kind of things out to the medical community in the city.”

KXAN: What are some of the things Austinites are doing that are encouraging to you during this time? Any creative solutions that you have seen so far?

MA: “I love watching what is happening in our community as people pull together. Austin Community Foundation and the entrepreneur’s foundation started something called Stand With Austin. People should go on to the website to look at that, it’s at austincf.org because there’s a way we can all pitch in to help the artists and the service folks that are really hurting right now as we’ve closed down events and as fewer people are going out to restaurants and bars.”

KXAN: Do you have a general message that you would like to speak to the Austin community? What is it that you want them to hear right now?

MA: “More than anything else, I just want to remind Austin that we’ve been through crises before and we are going to get through this one too.

“But in this crisis, we actually have the ability to decide, through our individual and our collective actions, we get to decide how fast this virus hits our city. If we can manage to keep it so that it’s minimized, where it doesn’t hit that geometric climb, then we are going to be absolutely fine.

“But we have control, which is why we want everybody to be conscious, we want everybody to do the personal hygiene, wash your hands, don’t go out if you’re sick, and if we all do this together, we are going to get through this fine.”

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