West Side residents urged to get vaccinated – and keep getting tested

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Faith leaders urged West Side residents who haven’t gotten their COVID shots to do so yet this month at any number of places, including the 15th Police District on Jan. 22. And they reminded residents to get regularly tested to ensure they’re not spreading the especially contagious Omicron variant.

“Testing is key. You just want to keep knowing that you’re OK,” Rev. Steve Epting, senior pastor at Hope Community Church, said at the monthly meeting of West Side faith-based leaders.

Epting noted that with more people getting vaccinated, “we’re not getting as sick. … But you can still catch COVID, and you can still pass it (on.)”

His church, 5900 W. Iowa St., is offering COVID testing on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Testing is also available at various Walgreens and CVS locations. More information about testing sites can be found here.

The Jan. 22 vaccination event will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the police district’s community room at 5701 W. Madison St. Other vaccination events have been held in recent weeks, but one had to be canceled because the vaccination team had contracted COVID, Epting said.

Attending this month’s faith-based meeting was Capt. Sheamus Mannion, who is filling in for 15th District Commander Andre Parham, who is in Quantico, Virginia, at the FBI Academy for training. He’s expected back at the 15th District in March.

Mannion noted that Austin’s 15th District was one of just two out of the city’s 22 districts that saw a decline in violent crime. The Chicago Tribune reported the Austin district saw a noteworthy decline in homicides over the one-year period between 2020 and 2021.

He said it’s not too soon for police and the community to be preparing for warmer weather when crime increases. “It’s cold right now, but we need to have a plan in place.”

Mannion started working in the 15th District in October. “I’m glad to be here,” said the 22-year veteran, who’s also worked in the 10th and 11th police districts. “It’s refreshing to see the (faith-based) partnership … it is truly unique,” he said. “This is the strongest faith-based partnership” he’s seen in CPD.

Also, residents were invited to attend a lunch at Bethel New Life on Jan. 14 that will focus on the state of education in Austin. Learn more here.

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