WEEKEND READ: Austin City Limits Music Festival begins — will it impact encouraging COVID-19 outlook?

Photo of the crowd gathered to enter the 2021 Austin City Limits Music Festival

(Photo: KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin-Travis County’s on the precipice of dropping down to Stage 3 COVID-19 risk-based guidelines, owing the progress to lower ICU and hospital admission numbers.

As of Friday, there are 2,288 active COVID-19 cases in Austin-Travis County. There are 329 people hospitalized, 148 patients in the ICU and 99 people on ventilators.

But several factors could affect what happens in the area next. One big event — one of the biggest to be held in Austin since the beginning of the pandemic — is this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival, which began Friday.

Austin City Limits Music Festival begins

After a year break due to pandemic concerns, Austin City Limits returned Friday — amid ongoing safety concerns and some torrential rain.

Despite a decline in COVID-19 cases in the area, ACL Fest nevertheless opened Oct. 1 with some health requirements to gain entry. ACL Fest announced over the summer that festival goers would need to either provide a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination in order to get through the gate. Several area companies told KXAN this week they’d seen an uptick in testing ahead of the festival.

But for one iconic local vendor of the festival, it was still too big a risk to attend.

On Monday, Austin-based record store Waterloo Records pull out of the festival, saying “Needless to say we are bummed.” The record store, which is located on South Lamar Boulevard, typically hosts performing artists signings.

As ACL Fest did finally begin, however, it got a late start.

Several Friday shows were fully cancelled due to rain. All-in-all, about three hours of performances were cancelled and gates opened at 3 p.m.

Texas Longhorns marching band out — for now

The Texas Longhorn band and pep bands announced they’d pull out of practices and events due to COVID-19 protocols “out of an abundance of caution.”

University of Texas Austin didn’t give further details whether or not a staff or band member had tested positive, however.

Texas abortion restrictions remain in the news

Texas and its controversial restrictive abortion law will be top of mind on Saturday — as over 600 marches and rallies take place ahead of Supreme Court arguments on Monday.

Protesters and state officials met at the Texas Capitol on Saturday morning to denounce the passage of Senate Bill 8, which bans abortion procedures once cardiac activity is detected, which is usually around six weeks into a pregnancy. before many people even realize they’re pregnant. The event was hosted by activist group Women’s March.

At least 35 Texas cities will host marches, including Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, McAllen, and Abilene.

Events will be held in all 49 other states, including in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. One event will also be held overseas in Madrid, Spain.

The event, hosted by activist group Women’s March at the Texas Capitol. Protesters and state officials will denounce the passage of Senate Bill 8, which bans abortion procedures at six weeks of pregnancy (KXAN/Frank Martinez)

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