Austin Public Health on Tuesday moved the community to step 3 of the Agency’s risk-based COVID-19 guidelines, so many Travis County residents can safely deworm while shopping and eating indoors.
The Austin-Travis County Health Authority Desmar Walkes, who announced the positive change during a joint Austin City Council and Travis County Commissioners Court meeting Tuesday, still urged the public to be cautious as he continued into the fall and winter seasons.
“Now is not the time to betray our guard,” Walkes said in a statement. “While our numbers are dramatically better than they were at the peak of this increase, we need to remain committed to the widespread, highly transferable delta variant.”
Health experts have blamed the recent increase in coronavirus cases on the strong combination of the delta variant and a significant population of unvaccinated residents. But now hospitals are enclosing a much older threat: the flu season.
“The flu season has just begun and it will not take much to trigger yet another increase in cases and overload our hospital systems again. Get vaccinated. Get tested. And stay home if you are sick,” Walkes said.
Austin Public Health’s risk-based guidelines range from Step 1 to Phase 5, where Step 5 indicates the highest threat level for coronavirus spread in the community. Each step is determined in part by the rolling weekly average of new daily hospitalizations for COVID-19.
On Tuesday, the county registered 19 new hospital admissions for COVID-19, bringing the weekly average to 20.
Phase 3 territory is when the rolling average remains between 15 and 30, according to Austin Public Health.
Under the Step 3 guidelines, health leaders say it is now safe enough for all fully vaccinated to shop and eat indoors and gather outdoors without wearing a mask if social distance may arise. Even those who are at high risk for severe symptoms of COVID-19 but are fully vaccinated can safely shop indoors and gather outdoors without a face covering if they can distance themselves from social area while doing so.
For unvaccinated people, step 3 would allow them to safely shop, eat, travel and gather with others both indoors and outdoors if masked. Those at high risk and unvaccinated should only gather, travel, shop and eat if necessary and while masked.
In July, Walkes, pointing to the highly contagious delta variant that drives a new summer wave, asked residents regardless of vaccination status to wear masks in public as cases began to rise. Austin and Travis County moved into Phase 5 of the agency’s risk-based guidelines in early August after the area began to see a steady increase in COVID-19 admissions.
In early September, hospitals reported zero remaining beds in intensive care units for an 11-county trauma service area with 2.3 million people, including those living in the Austin subway area.
Times at the time said some patients in need of critical care were being treated outside the trauma care area, while others had to be relocated several counties away to find an empty bed and be treated for serious medical needs such as personal injury, heart attack and stroke. , and coronavirus.
Austin has come a long way since the summer, when Austin Public Health on Tuesday tracked only 206 people in the hospital with COVID-19, an improvement over the pandemic record of 653 patients set on August 25th.
As many as 89 people on Tuesday were at ICUs in the Austin area for COVID-19. This number hit a pandemic record high of 237 on August 22nd. The 63 patients on ventilators remained a significant improvement over the pandemic’s record height of 174 set on 29 August.
Travis County vaccination rates are also continuing to improve. As of Tuesday, 81.57% of county residents 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine. About 71.73% of county residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated.