AUSTIN, Texas - There is some good news on the COVID-19 front. The positivity rate in Austin/Travis County is under 5 percent, meaning that less than 5 percent of people getting tested are coming up positive.
“As we see cases drop, as we see positivity drop, as we see our hospitals get in a better situation in terms of beds being utilized for COVID-19, the pressure to stop doing those things that have been effective, is going to increase,” said Dr. Mark Escott, interim health authority.
That doesn't mean COVID-19 disappeared. Escott warns that now is the time to continue masking, practicing social distancing and proper hand hygiene, especially with a flu season starting Oct. 1.
“Last year during flu season, our hospitals were full, our ICU's were full. There was no room for this extra disease COVID-19,” said Escott.
With fall in Austin comes football. The Texas Longhorns are kicking off their season with their home opener this Saturday and the school is allowing 25,000 fans in the stadium to watch.
“We can expect that perhaps 40 to 50 people out of that 25,000 will show up with COVID-19,” said Escott.
He said if you can avoid large gatherings, do it. “Our gathering limit is 10 and have 25,000 people in one space is a concern. Is it better than 50 percent which was the original proposal? Absolutely. I’m pleased to see UT has dropped that number,” said Escott.
Schools are also reopening, some virtually only for a few weeks, like Austin ISD, but eventually, in October, in-person learning will be an option.
“Schools are doing a great job, colleges are doing a great job at trying to prevent transmission, they are not going to be able to prevent it 100 percent. Last week we had the highest percentage of hospitalizations on record for that 10 to 19 age group, 6. 1 percent,” said Escott.
“We're not where we need to be, we still have a ways to go in this outbreak, we all have to continue to stay the course,” said Stephanie Hayden, director, Austin Public Health.
Our way of life as we know it will be changed for a good while, as researchers continue to work on developing a vaccine. In the meantime, health officials do not want people to let their guards down.
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.