COVID UPDATE

Austin moves to Stage 4 of risk-based guidelines amid latest COVID-19 surge

Austin moves to Stage 4 of risk-based guidelines amid COVID-19 surge

Coronavirus COVID-19
Austin is in the midst of another COVID-19 surge. Stay masked up! Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

KVUE — Austin-Travis County leaders announced on Wednesday, December 29 that the area has moved from Stage 3 to Stage 4 of its COVID-19 risk-based guidelines.

On the City’s dashboard, officials track the seven-day moving average of new hospital admissions, the community transmission rate, and the positivity rate when determining the stages of COVID-19 risk-based guidelines. As of Tuesday, December 28, two of those three indicators were in Stage 5 territory: community transmission rate and positivity rate, with 405 and 15.7 percent respectively. 

The seven-day moving average of new hospital admissions crossed the Stage 4 threshold on Tuesday.

Just before Christmas, two of the three key indicators crossed their respective Stage 5 thresholds, but the seven-day average of hospital admissions remained in Stage 3 at the time, with 16. As of December 28, the seven-day moving average of hospital admissions had grown to 36.

“One of the greatest traits of Austin-Travis County is how we have consistently been one of the leaders in the state when it comes to lower community transmission rates. Our people have continually stepped up for the greater good and been the example of how to navigate the COVID-19 surges with masking, social distancing, and vaccinations,” says Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County’s health authority. “However, as our vigilance begins to wane, our community is falling behind. We can’t afford to be lax in our prevention efforts, and I’m confident that Austin-Travis County will once again lead the way.”

What is the difference between Stage 3 and Stage 4?

The main difference is that masking becomes recommended in all circumstances, regardless of vaccination status or whether you’re considered low risk or high risk.

Health leaders continue to urge the community to get fully vaccinated, including getting a booster shot.

“The omicron variant is moving fast through our community and we must do what is necessary to help slow community transmission,” Travis County Judge Andy Brown says. “As we get closer to the new year celebration, I encourage everyone to follow the Stage 4 guidelines and mask up when recommended. These small preventive measures will go a long way when it comes to keeping our entire community safe.”

“COVID-19 hospitalizations and the community transmission rate are surging once again. This means our ICUs are filling and that emergency care could become compromised for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. We must act now to protect both,” says Austin Mayor Steve Adler. 

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