WEEKEND READ: Masking urged as Austin hits Stage 4 COVID-19 risk

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Stack of facemasks (Via Unsplash)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As COVID-19 cases surge nationwide, the Austin-Travis County area is no different: with the city entering Stage 4 of risk-based guidelines on Friday.

It’s now recommended that all residents — including those who are vaccinated — wear masks. Meanwhile, people who aren’t fully vaccinated are asked to stay home and avoid non-essential dining/shopping.

Despite this, required masking in public/government spaces won’t happen anytime soon. On Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott echoed the sentiment behind his banning of mask mandates in public spaces, saying it would be “inappropriate to require people who already have immunity to wear a mask.”

On Tuesday, Mayor Steve Adler asked residents to start wearing masks again, regardless of vaccination status. And as the summer break nears a close, the mayor said the city’s hands are tied due to the governor’s executive order banning public schools from mandating masks for students.

“We don’t want to get involved in a legal issue with the Governor and want to try to avoid that if we can,” said Adler. “But if there was a way right now to order that all students have to wear masks in school, we would be doing it.”

Summer camps cancelled

In response to the rising spread of coronavirus, some Central Texas summer camps shut down abruptly after some campers tested positive. This included camps in Georgetown and Austin.

Fentanyl in Central Texas

A KXAN investigation delved into the increasing problem of counterfeit fentanyl-laced pills being sold to some Central Texans, sometimes with tragic results.

Investigators found dealers are pressing fentanyl — a synthetic opioid that’s up to 100 times stronger than morphine — into pills that look like prescription pills like Xanax and oxycodone.

In Travis County, a 25% increase in fentanyl-related deaths is expected over last year, according to Travis County Medical Examiners Office data.

Recently, Gov. Abbott has made the fentanyl trade a centerpiece of his weekly border security discussions.

“This is an almost 800% increase over last year in just the first four months of this year,” Abbott said. “And that does not even include the amounts that went undetected or that were seized by other law enforcement agencies.”

Tokyo2020 Olympics begin

The year-delayed 2020 Olympic games officially began in Tokyo, Japan, this week.

The U.S. sent its second-largest team to the games, with over 600 athletes, including some from right here in the Lone Star State. This year’s events are being sparsely attended due to COVID-19 protocols and are relatively more lowkey than in years past.

Get the latest on how our Texans are doing in the Olympics by signing up for push alerts on the KXAN News App and our More Than The Score newsletter. Join us at noon every weekday for our Japan 2020 stream highlighting memorable moments and KXAN’s team in Tokyo.

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