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Inside Texas Politics: Austin mayor says based on current COVID-19 trajectory, city could run out of hospital beds in 2 weeks

The Austin mayor said his city is dealing with the same situation Dallas, Houston and San Antonio are facing -- rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The positivity rate for COVID-19 cases in Austin is the highest in the country. That means of the number of coronavirus tests given in Austin, more people are testing positive there than anywhere else in the United States. 

Austin Mayor Steve Adler says he is considering a 35-day stay-at-home order.

Adler said they have conferred with scientists and modelers to come up with the shortest period of time to slow down COVID-19 and reopen the economy with greater controls. 

"Right now, the trajectory in Austin would indicate to us that if we don't do something about the trajectory we're on, we could run out of hospital capacity in two weeks," he said. "ICUs potentially before that." 

He said they're dealing with a situation similar to what is happening in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. 

Both Bexar, home to San Antonio, and Dallas counties reported more than 1,000 cases on Friday for the first time. Harris County, where Houston is, has reported more than 1,000 cases in a single day more than once.

The 2020 Austin City Limits Festival was canceled due to concerns about the spread of the disease. 

RELATED: Austin City Limits cancels 2020 music festival

What will happen to University of Texas football?

"I can't imagine a world without a vaccine, where you put 95,000 people in a stadium," Adler said.

Adler said even a small number of infected people could spread quickly from that crowd and out into the community, when fans go home.

"Frankly, I'm not sure how teams get through an entire fall in that kind of proximity and keep everybody safe," he said.

Adler, a Democrat, has served as the mayor of the state capital since January 2015. 

RELATED: Austin Mayor Steve Adler’s website

Watch this week's entire episode below. Note: this show was taped prior to Gov. Greg Abbott's face covering order.

Statewide Headlines

Ross Ramsey, with the Texas Tribune, joins Jason Whitely. 

1. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick took issue with Dr. Anthony Fauci last week when the doctor said that states like Texas have “skipped over” reopening guidelines. The lieutenant governor said in an interview that Texas hasn’t skipped over anything. Patrick added that Dr. Fauci has "been wrong every time on every issue." The lieutenant governor issued a statement later asking why Fauci had nothing to say about mistakes made in New York and even California. Dr. Fauci is the nation's top infectious-disease specialist. Is there any kind of political strategy in what the lieutenant governor said?

2. Bars are now suing the state after the governor ordered them to close. Gov. Greg Abbott caved with Shelley Luther and her hair salon in Dallas. How might this play out?

Mask wearing will 'increase freedom'

For weeks, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has supported wearing face masks. But he understands the challenge of getting people to wear one.

Adams had this message for Texans: 

"If you want to see the Dallas Cowboys play again in person, if you want to see the Houston Texans play again in person, if we want to get back to some sense of normalcy -- with church, with school, with businesses, then the fastest way to make that happen is by wearing a face covering."

Adams called wearing a mask "a small inconvenience that will actually increase your freedom." 

The best way to ensure communities can reopen, said Adams, was to follow these public health precautions. 

Adams has three kids, and said he and his family are actively discussing whether their children will go back to school in person. 

He said things are changing quickly for COVID-19, but said, in order for school to take place safely, schools need to be preparing now by considering everything from transportation to distancing to online access.

Second shutdown could be catastrophic for restaurants  

The Texas Restaurant Association is concerned that some cities might restrict restaurant operations again as the coronavirus continues its spread.

All of those factors could have dire consequences for restaurants. 

Emily Williams, president and CEO of The Texas Restaurant Association, said another shutdown would paralyze the industry.

"With the first shutdown, we're projecting about 30% of our 50,000 restaurants won't make it through," she said.

The TRA estimates 50-75% of restaurants would close if a second shutdown occurred.

The TRA has put together its "Survival Plan," which outlines what the $66 billion industry needs to move forward. It includes tax relief, liability protection, and an assistance fund to help restaurants deal with the demands of COVID-19.

Reporter Roundtable

Featuring Jason, Ross, Bud Kennedy of the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram, and Berna Dean Steptoe, WFAA political producer.

1. Joe Biden had a good week last week. Now the talk is about who he will select for a running mate. The Democratic National convention is about six weeks away. Is there a running mate who would help or hurt him in Texas? Selecting a woman -- any names he might be considering that we haven’t heard?

2. It's the middle of an exhausting, frustrating year. Some public officials are just beaten down. Should more retirements at all levels be expected after the November elections?

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