COVID update

Austin cautiously downgrades to Stage 4 of COVID-19 risk-based guidelines

Austin downgrades to Stage 4 of COVID-19 risk-based guidelines

Covid-19 omicron variant
APH is still recommending wearing masks and getting vaxed as the best ways to further quell the virus. Cleveland Clinic

KVUE — Officials announced Thursday, February 24 that the Austin-Travis County community will shift back to Stage 4 of the area’s COVID-19 risk-based guidelines.

Austin entered Stage 4 territory last week, according to the metrics that public health officials use when determining coronavirus precaution stages.

The area hit an all-time high for average hospital admissions caused by the COVID-19 omicron variant on January 19, when the average was 129. The average has been dropping consistently since then. 

The area entered Stage 5 on January 6, just two days after all three indicators reached Stage 5 territory. 

“With omicron, we saw test numbers and positivity rates that surpassed our previous records during the pandemic. This surge posed a threat to our hospital systems and our community as a whole,” says Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis Countys health authority. “It’s thanks to the many community members who got vaccinated, continue to wear masks, and follow safe practices that our numbers are moving in the right direction.”

Since the peak in January, coronavirus metrics have continued to decline. Officials track the seven-day average of hospital admissions, community transmission rate, and positivity rate to determine the COVID-19 risk-based guidelines. For a look at the Citys key staging indicators in real time, click here

“We can’t simply make this virus go away because we are ready to get back to normal,” says Adrienne Sturrup, Austin Public Health director. “We need to stay the course, and that means getting boosted. All of our clinics offer all three vaccines and subsequent boosters. Take some time out of your day to get up to date with your vaccine protection.”

What is different in Stage 4?

In Stage 4, APH officials recommend the following: 

  • Fully vaccinated and/or boosted individuals should wear masks when gathering with people outside of their household, traveling, dining and shopping. 
  • Partially or unvaccinated individuals and those who need their booster dose should wear masks, avoid gatherings with people outside of their household, only travel and shop if essential, and choose takeaway/curbside options for dining. Get fully vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible.

APH clinics offer COVID-19 vaccinations and testing without an appointment,  although creating an account online in advance saves time. COVID-19 vaccinations are free and require neither identification nor insurance. For more information and to schedule an appointment, call 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000 or visit austintexas.gov/COVID19. 

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