APH holds weekly update, announces transition to Stage 4

At its weekly update, Austin Public Health Department announced that Austin-Travis County is transitioning into Stage 4 of its COVID-19 risk guidelines due to the current coronavirus data.

Austin-Travis County first moved into Stage 4 on June 15, 2020 but has been in Stage 3 since Aug. 25, 2020. 

Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott says, “We are not immune from a tragedy like El Paso’s and like El Paso, we could be facing a rapidly growing surge between Thanksgiving and Christmas with Stage 5 a few weeks away. We also have the ability, through our protective actions now, to keep our community safe and prevent needless tragedy and loss over the holiday season by flattening the curve again.” 

The risk-based guidelines are not changes to local Orders and Rules or regulations for businesses; they are guidelines for individual actions and behaviors based on various risk levels. 

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This is what is recommended in Stage 4:

  • Higher-risk individuals (those over the age of 65 and those who have chronic medical conditions) should stay home, except for essential trips such as buying groceries or seeking medical care.
  • Lower-risk individuals should avoid social gatherings, any gatherings greater than 10 people, and non-essential travel.
  • Recommend businesses and restaurants voluntarily reduce capacity to 25-50%. 
  • Recommend schools limit attendance at sporting events to players, coaches, and parents. 

Austin Mayor Steve Adler released a statement about the move to Stage 4 saying,

"Today we move to the Orange, Risk Level 4 because with more discipline we’re more likely to avoid Red, Risk Level 5, and closing schools and more businesses.  By our actions together – especially over Thanksgiving — we get to decide how badly we want to stop the increasing hospitalizations.  We have control over our future." 

"We’ve done this before; let’s do it again." 

"The vaccine is close, we’re almost there.  We need to commit just a little longer.  Mask…  Small groups…  Stay home when you can…  Distance…  Look at your family and remember who you’re doing this for.  Don’t jeopardize years of future holidays by taking unnecessary risks this Thanksgiving."

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Officials said that the key indicators for stage changes which include the 7-day moving average of hospitalizations and number of patients in the ICU are all trending upward. They said these indicators combined with concerns of gatherings outside of the household for the Thanksgiving holiday prompted APH to raise the risk level. 

Austin-Travis County leaders remind the public to continue to be vigilant and practice good hygiene, physical and social distancing, and wear face coverings to prevent the disease from spreading and help keep each other safe. Avoiding gatherings outside of your household is especially important this holiday season. 

RELATED: Austin Public Health shares safety guidelines for holiday celebrations

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