AUSTIN, Texas - Austin Public Health is offering recommendations to keep you and your family safe and to help stop the spread of COVID-19 after holiday gatherings and travel.
Health officials had urged people to avoid getting together for Thanksgiving.
“COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising locally, across Texas and the United States,” said Stephanie Hayden, Austin Public Health Director, in a news release. “It is critically important that everyone do their part to combat COVID-19 by avoiding gatherings and travel this holiday season. Do not gather with people that you do not live with during the holiday season, avoid high-risk activities, and stay home as much as possible."
But many chose to travel and gather anyway and Hayden says that those who did "need to make sure that they take the proper precautions to stay safe."
Besides traveling and indoor gatherings, there are other higher-risk holiday activities that officials warn about including going on crowded hayrides with non-household members, participating in traditional caroling or other door-to-door activities, and traveling outside of your community for gatherings and events.
"Additional holidays are around the corner; if people still plan to travel despite public health risk guidance, they should consider the 3 'C's; wear a face Covering, avoid Crowds, and decrease your time in Confined areas,” said Janet Pichette, Chief Epidemiologist for Austin-Travis County. “We must do our part in the community to keep our families and each other safe.”
If you participate or participated in any of those higher-risk activities, officials say you should do the following:
- Get tested at least 3-5 days after gathering or traveling AND stay home for 7 days after gathering or traveling.
- Even if you test negative, stay home for the full 7 days.
- If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
- You can sign up for a COVID-19 test through APH at austintexas.gov/covid19.
- If you don’t get tested, it’s safest to stay home for 14 days after gathering or traveling.
- Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe complications or death from COVID-19 for 14 days after gathering or traveling, regardless of whether you get tested.
Austin-Travis County was recently moved to Stage 4 on the COVID-19 risk-based guidelines. Additional protective measures are recommended for people at higher risk, namely those aged over 65 or people with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, obesity, or those who are otherwise immunocompromised.
APH says it has more than enough capacity for free COVID-19 testing. Individuals can take an assessment online and see if they need to be tested by visiting AustinTexas.gov/COVID19 and clicking “take a self-assessment."
Walk-up testing is also available; more information can be found at AustinTexas.gov/Covid-TestInfo. The Ana Lark Center test site, located at 1400 Tillery Street, Austin, TX 78721, will be the only COVID-19 test site open on Friday, Nov. 27 (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.).