T-Squared: With COVID cases and hospitalizations climbing, The Texas Tribune Festival will be all-virtual after all

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You may have seen stories the last few days around the state and across the country about the “dire” public health environment in Austin, in the words of local officials, and in other Texas communities. This has caused us to rethink our approach to this year’s Texas Tribune Festival, our 11th annual ideas conference. We had intended to go with a hybrid schedule — some sessions streamed, some presented live — but with no predictable end in sight to the recent increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations, we’ve made the difficult but prudent decision to eliminate the in-person slate and return to our original plan for an all-virtual event.

It’s too bad. Everyone at the Tribune was looking forward to being in the room with readers and members, with old friends and new, as we would have done pre-pandemic. But it’s not pre-pandemic, and as much as we’d like it to be, it’s not post-pandemic either. We’re not out of harm’s way yet. Even with proper protocols in place, putting a thousand or more people in enclosed spaces with the delta variant spreading is a risk not worth taking. The health and well-being of our attendees, speakers and staff is top of mind.

The good news is that putting every one of our smart, provocative programs about politics and policy online means they’ll be even more widely available and can be viewed conveniently, comfortably and safely. We have more than 60 powerful conversations on tap featuring some of the biggest names in Texas and the United States, and that won’t change.

We announce the full Festival program, including new and amazing speakers, on Tuesday, Aug. 17. Get your tickets today. See you in September!