Mask On Austin

Austin Assistant City Manager Chris Shorter
soulciti recently caught up with Austin’s Assistant City Manager, Christopher Shorter, to discuss the “Mask On PSA” he participated in as well as some ongoing concerns with the city as it relates to Austin mitigating COVID 19. 

With numbers disproportionately affecting the black community, I wonder what some of the plans for the impending future were and whose idea it was to put this together?

Farrah Muscadin, the Director of the Office of Police Oversight was the energy behind this. She reached out to me and organized it with other Black leaders in the community,” he asserts.

The two-minute video was shot at Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church in East Austin and included young black men as well as some Black executives in the mix.  GMZ Pastor Gaylon Clark, Travis County Commissioner Jeffrey Travillion, Fire Chief Joel Baker, Quincy Dunlap and Kobla Tetey of the Austin Area Urban League, District 1 Chief of Staff, Eric Byrd, and more gathered in solidarity to wear showcase their PPE.

Most of the participants are even seen busting some moves as singer/songwriter and community activist, Saul Paul’s song “Mask On” plays in the background. The Assistant City Manager adds, “In the very small circle of African American executives at the City, it is important to be a proponent in getting the word out and being safe and knowledgeable about the threats and risks. So, we opted to lead by example. It was so good to see those men after weeks and months of not seeing them. I have to say it was therapeutic. Sharing that space meant a lot.”

Why do you feel the numbers are so high in the minority communities, specifically, Black and LatinX communities?

Because this virus, in terms of those being hospitalized and affected, amplifies so many underlying health concerns and conditions that have plagued our communities for decades and make it difficult for recovery. Those living with respiratory issues, diabetes, and other ailments may already lack resources and COVID 19 has really revealed the magnitude of the disconnect in our minority communities.

As updates vary day-to-day, many are wondering what will happen in Austin? Are we facing another shutdown?”

What we’re looking at right now, as a city, and county, is the seven-day average of folks who are contracting the virus and those being hospitalized. While the numbers have increased since March, of course, we are starting to see the seven-day average do down. The key to managing this, at this point, is that we as a community are delivering the message about personal choices and how they play into the bigger picture of this. We must push our families, neighbors, and community to be safe. We need to normalize wearing masks. It’s so important that credible messengers that are getting the message out!

With a city approaching 1 million people, staying informed with the most up-to-date and accurate information is crucial to our community’s navigating this. The “Mask On PSA” has been viewed over 15,000 times between the local tweet from Mayor Adler and Facebook shares.

For the latest information on COVID 19 & Free testing sites.


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