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'It's going to take all of us' | Wearing masks essential to reopening Austin's economy, Mayor Adler says

The mayor told KVUE he is worried local hospitals may reach capacity if people do not take the virus risk seriously.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Monday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler updated his mask order, upping the requirement for businesses from having to have a safety plan to requiring employees and customers wear face masks. 

Alder told KVUE wearing face coverings is the best way to reopen the economy while still mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’re trying to find that sweet spot, with the ability to be able to moderate our behaviors in a way that keeps us being able to open up the economy,” said Adler. “The best indications are that the best thing that we can be doing is wearing masks.”

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Adler said in addition to masks, businesses should operate in a way that encourages social distancing, such as limiting capacity and making it possible for customers to maintain 6 feet of distance with each other.

“It’s going to take all of us pitching in,” he said. “It’s going to take all of us acting for the greater good.”

Businesses in Austin are largely supportive of the new order, the mayor said. The Austin Chamber has embraced the guidelines with a PSA urging Austinites to wear masks to help the community.

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But the mayor warned that hospital capacity could be reached if the guidelines were not followed.

“The number of hospitalizations in the state – the governor showed us yesterday – had that number doubling over the last month,” said Adler. “I fear it’s going to double over the next couple weeks.”

Hospitals are working with the City to prepare for a potential surge should they reach capacity.

“We have those emergency surge plans, but it’s not something that we want to do if it’s something that we can avoid, which is why it’s so important to change the trajectory through our behaviors,” said Adler.

Adler said he was concerned about the pace of reopening from the state, saying it didn’t give lawmakers enough time to evaluate the effects of reopening before going forward. Of concern is protecting children as schools resume in-person in the fall.

“Please avoid large groups,” Alder told KVUE. “Social distance. Wear your mask. If you begin to even think that you might have the symptoms, stay home or get tested. Don’t spread this virus.”

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