AUSTIN, Texas - In order to avoid a spike in COVID-19 cases, Austin Public Health is urging people to be safe this Labor Day Weekend.
For the past few weeks, Dr. Escott says Travis County has seen a significant decrease in COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions. APH worries that Labor Day weekend could jeopardize that.
“We've got to stay the course. I know we want to celebrate. We want to be out this holiday weekend and be with family and friends, but if we go too far, if we take too much risk right now, when we're about to start the opening of schools, then we're going to pay for it in two or three weeks,” Escott said.
Austin Public Health officials advise people to continue to social distance, mask up, and wash your hands. Director of APH Stephanie Hayden says enforcement teams will be out to make sure people are following those guidelines.
“There will be park police, Austin Police Department, as well as our environmental health sanitarians so we will have more people out there who will be visual and they will be providing warnings as well as moving us into enforcement,” said Hayden.
Some bars have begun to reopen and operate under food and beverage licenses. Dr. Escott says now is not the time to be going to the bar.
Last time bars opened it was a disaster and we quickly saw cases spike. Bars are just not the right environment to prevent COVID-19 spread. You're generally talking about individuals who are face to face intoxicated for a long period of time,” he said.
Dr. Escott revealed the University of Texas at Austin’s reported COVID-19 cases, for just this week alone, account for 23% of Travis County's COVID-19 cases.
“That means that we have to continue to reiterate the importance to our young people about their need to protect themselves so that they can protect the community,” said Dr. Escott.
APH officials stress that in order to avoid another spike, the whole community must keep up those safety precautions.
“This virus is not going away and the vaccine is months away, perhaps six to nine months away. We have to continue the vigilance we have to make these things part of our regular routine and, if we do that, we can avoid the surges that we've seen before, and we can continue to keep schools open, we can open restaurants and businesses further,” said Dr. Escott.
Dr. Escott also spoke about the upcoming UT football game that is scheduled for next weekend. He advised people who are vulnerable or know someone who is vulnerable to not attend.
“I do appreciate the University of Texas in the dialogue we've had over many months. In those conversations, you know, we talked about the fact that 50% was way too many and 25% was probably too many as well. It still represents 25,000 people coming together in one space, in the middle of the biggest pandemic we've seen in 100 years so we need to be cautious. My advice is you should think twice before you go to a gathering of that size,” said Dr. Escott.
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