Isolation hotel, music disaster fund money items passed at Thursday’s council meeting


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council accepted coronavirus-related aid funding and allocated other funding to “Austin’s most vulnerable musicians, along with setting up funding for people displaced by Project Connect improvements.

Here’s a breakdown of what the council discussed Thursday.

Tracing, testing and reporting: Accepted

Council accepted $838,004 in coronavirus response money from the Texas Department of State Health Services, which Austin plans to use for COVID-19 tracing, laboratory testing, and reporting. City council documents say the money would specifically be used for:

  • Conduct surveillance to identify cases, report case data in a timely manner, identify contacts, characterize disease transmission, and track relevant epidemiologic characteristics including hospitalization and death.
  • Conduct surveillance to monitor virologic and disease activity in the community and healthcare settings.
  • Implement routine and enhanced surveillance to support the science base that informs public health interventions that mitigate the impact of COVID-19, including understanding clinical characteristics; infection prevention and control practices; and other mitigation requirements.
  • Establish or enhance core epidemiological activities to support response, such as risk assessment, case classification, analysis, visualization, and reporting.
  • Conduct surveillance to monitor disruption in the community caused by COVID-19 and related mitigation activities (e.g. school closures and cancellation of mass gatherings).
  • Conduct surveillance to monitor disruption in healthcare systems caused by COVID-19 (e.g. shortages of personal protective equipment)

New Isolation Hotel: Passed

The city passed on consent the use of a 150-bedroom in north central Austin as its next COVID-19 isolation facility. The initial agreement is for the city to pay $394,087 during the first 31 days, with up to two additional 31-day extensions.

Austin is currently using a hotel in northeast Austin as its other isolation facility.

KXAN’s Alyssa Goard has more details on the isolation hotels.

Relief for local artists: Passed

Austin will dip into its Emergency Reserve Fund again, this time to help its most vulnerable musicians during the coronavirus pandemic. Council approved $1.5 million for the Music Disaster Relief Fund.

Creative Spaces: Passed

Another resolution will turn Austin’s Creative Space Assistance Program into a COVID-19 emergency fund that would provide grants to vulnerable local artists. Council documents say the dollars could help artists with rental costs, but other details about the program are scarce. Staff told council members it’s still to be determined how the city will choose grant recipients.

The Creative Space Assistance Program supports Austin creative organizations facing temporary or permanent displacement or at a high risk of displacement.

Bond money for intersections: Passed

Council will allocate up to $3.9 million in 2016 Mobility Bond money for intersection improvements at top crash locations in Austin. Improvements through this contract will be at:

  • Parker Lane/Oltorf Street
  • Braker Lane/Stonelake Boulevard
  • North Lamar Boulevard/Payton Gin Road
  • North Lamar Boulevard/St. Johns Avenue

These are four of the 15 intersections identified on a priorities list back in 2016. Austin Transportation says improvements at six of the intersections have already been completed.

Project Connect impact funding: Passed

Council allocated funding for people who would either be displace or otherwise impacted by Project Connect transit improvements.

Staff of council member Casar’s put together a map that shows the highest volume of low-income families and people of color in relation to the Project Connect lines.

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