Q&A: Mayor Adler on Austin’s coronavirus response


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Mayor Steve Adler spoke with KXAN Monday about the measures Austin is and could be taking to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Below is a transcript of his interview with anchor Sydney Benter.

Sydney Benter: Governor Abbott said to expect more people will be diagnosed with the coronavirus across the state. How is the city of Austin preparing for that? Are you satisfied with the amount of available tests right now?

Mayor Steve Adler: Well first, thanks for the opportunity to join you here. And the one thing we know for an absolute certainty is there’s going to be more people who catch this virus. It works the way the flu works, and a lot of people are going to catch this. And we know that.

The challenge for us is to make sure not too many people catch it too fast. So we don’t have this spike that just overwhelms our healthcare system. That’s what we’ve seen gone wrong in those cities that are having trouble. And what we want to do is everything that we can do to try to keep that spike as low as we can. Which is why we are trying to keep people apart as long as we can, to keep down that spread. That’s why we’re asking people to wash their hands, so they don’t spread it. We’re asking people not to shake hands, to elbow bump or bow — or hook ’em horns works — more than a handshake. More importantly, telling people, ‘Don’t go into work, don’t go into school if you are feeling sick.’ That is probably the most important thing, to stay at home, to the degree that people can work at home, that’s even a good thing to do.”

Benter: We know a lot of people want to support their local businesses and restaurants, but we’ve seen other states go to the extreme of closing those places, or at least limiting to drive-thru and carry-out options. Is there any plan to do that here, since the state hasn’t given any guidance yet on whether we should close bars or restaurants at all?

Adler: You know, it is something I seriously think we ought to give consideration to. And we are. We’ve been meeting daily to decide what is best to do. It wouldn’t surprise me if we did something like that. Not only did Dallas do something like that, but Houston did it today as well.

You know, a week ago when we closed down Southby, we were an outlier, people were like ‘How are you going to do that?’ Now, a week later, and it’s hard to believe it was just a week, a week later everyone across the country is doing the same exact thing.

We’ve lowered the number of people who can gather to 50, I don’t know if that is far enough. You know, schools are closing. We are all in this together, we need to do everything we can not to let this thing catch too fast.

I think also, something everybody needs to realize, is there is no need to go to a grocery store and buy everything you think you need for a week or two. Grocery stores are restocking every night, the distribution centers are full. You don’t need to do that. You should just shop the way you normally shop. Because when you go back next to shop, the grocery store is going to look like it has always looked.

Benter: Do you anticipate getting all the resources that you need and do you feel like have the access to them right now, whether its tests or medical supplies — like Austin has the resources that it needs?”

Adler: Austin does not have all the resources that it needs. I wish we had started in earnest as a country getting testing kits two months ago when it first surfaced what we were facing. Austin’s ahead of a lot of cities when it comes to testing kits. But we’re not just relying on the state and the federal government. We’re independently sourcing those through our diagnostic clinics and our hospital delivery, healthcare delivery systems in our area. And slowly we are seeing the supply of testing kits is ramping up, which is wonderful to see. We need the supplies associated with those. We now realize with those kits, we don’t have enough reagent. It’s always something. But we’re going to work our way through those things to make sure we get what we need in this city.

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