Travis County surpasses 1,000 COVID-19 deaths

It's been about a month since school started in Central Texas. Since then, there has been a lot of back and forth in court about the legality of mask mandates. 

Austin ISD is standing their ground on their mask mandate.

"We came out really strong at the start, and we said masks work, they're required and we really haven't waivered on that," said Cristina Nguyen, press secretary at Austin ISD.

Travis County reached the grim milestone of surpassing 1,000 COVID-19 deaths, something the mayor outlined in an open letter to the public. The letter also said schools with mask mandates are seeing far fewer cases. 

Lago Vista ISD is leading the pack, with one in 13 students and faculty contracting the virus and no mask mandate in place. In comparison, Austin ISD students and faculty have a one in 159 chance of contracting COVID-19.

"This last week we had 160 total cases which is about 0.19 percent of our total in person students and staff," said Nguyen, who said because of the lower case count, there are more than 1,000 fewer kids having to stay home and quarantine for exposure.

"You can't argue with those numbers. We have fully supported the mask mandate from the beginning. We believe it was just a simple thing that everybody could do," said Ken Zarifis, president of Education Austin.

Zarifis said he is only comfortable sending his child to school because of AISD’s rules. "With my child going back into school, there was no way he was going to go back if it wasn't for a mask mandate. We feel comfortable with it," he said.

When school first started, districts like Leander, Pflugerville and Manor were on the fence about masks, but have since put mandates in place.

"It really just became this domino effect across the state," said Zarifis.

In Travis County, 69 percent of those eligible are vaccinated. Adler’s office said the unvaccinated account for 93 percent of deaths in the county.

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