Austin City Council approves booster shot plan, Afghan refugee support


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Thursday is the last Austin City Council meeting that will allow for virtual public comment, it will move back to in-person involvement in September. Here’s what we’re following:

COVID-19 booster shot plan: Approved 

U.S. health officials are recommending all Americans get COVID-19 booster shots eight months after their second or final dose, as vaccine effectiveness has been shown to decrease over time, as is the case with most vaccines.

Austin-Travis County health leaders have not publicly shared much detail on how they plan to handle the surge of people who will need that third shot in the next few months. Though they have said they’re working to avoid the same backlog and speedbumps they saw earlier this year.

City Council members approved a resolution that asks the city to put together a comprehensive booster shot plan to be brought back to council next month.

A spokesperson for Councilwoman Vanessa Fuentes, who put the resolution forward, said they’re specifically asking the city to narrow in on direct actions for equity and applying lessons learned earlier this year. The mayor and several other council members have also signed on to that resolution.

Show of support for Afghan refugees: Approved

As Americans and refugees scramble to escape Afghanistan after the fall of their government, and the reinstatement of the Taliban in Kabul, Austin City Council approved to direct the city manager to coordinate with county, state and federal officials welcoming refugees to the City of Austin.

The resolution is a show of support from city council, refugees are already being brought to our city.

Refugee Services of Texas has brought more than 2,400 special immigrant visa holders from Afghanistan and Iraq into Austin since 2010 and current Afghan refugees are already arriving in Austin, supporting documents for the item say.

Motorcycles for the police department: Approved 

After approving the largest budget yet for the Austin Police Department, council approved the purchase of 14 replacement motorcycles for APD. Funding would come from the 2020-21 fleet mobility services’ budget. It could cost roughly $360,000.

Documents for the item show the city currently has 65 APD motorcycles, used for traffic patrols, and as traffic escorts for roughly 150 events each year.

This allows APD to purchase new motorcycles to replace others that do not meet fleet mobility services’ standards because of mileage or hours used.

Cut down on Emergency Rental Assistance duplications: Approved

Earlier this year, the federal government approved money to help people pay rent and utilities. That money is being funneled through local governments and then distributed to households in need. Both Austin and Travis County got millions of dollars through that program.

Council members approved Thursday to authorize an agreement with Travis County to cut down on anyone getting money from both the county and city — which is not allowed under federal requirements. The agreement allows for data to be shared between the two municipalities to make sure there are no duplicates.

Extension of contract to provide essential workers with child care: Approved 

In September 2020, Austin City Council agreed to partner with WorkSource Greater Austin Area Workforce Board to provide child care services for essential workers in the COVID-19 pandemic response.

The child care services are for low-to moderate-income essential workers who would lose their job should they not be able to be on the front lines. It’s also available for essential workers who lost their job due to the pandemic while they look, train for another position.

Eligible families are required to have gross family income of 80% or less of the median family income for their household size.

Now that it is approved, it would extend the contract to September 20, 2023.

Austin City Council will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday August 26. You can find the full agenda on the City of Austin’s website.

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