Indoor masking recommended for Independence Day celebrations

With so many gathering and traveling to celebrate Independence Day, local public health officials are suggesting Texans consider masking indoors or celebrating outdoors this weekend.

Texans are also being encouraged to stay home if they're experiencing symptoms, even if it’s just a scratchy throat or you think it’s "just allergies." 

Austin Public Health (APH) also suggests you get up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines, including any recommended booster doses, to protect yourself and your community.

Austin Public Health (APH) is suggesting Texans consider masking indoors or celebrating outdoors this weekend for Independence Day celebrations. (Lauren Reid)

Health officials in Central Texas are recommending residents take preventive measures to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 during Fourth of July celebrations. 

This comes as APH is monitoring widespread transmission and declining immunity, including reinfections. Last week, Travis County’s COVID-19 Community Level was upgraded to medium.

"We’re seeing concerning trends with our disease indicators which is especially worrisome as we head into a holiday weekend. The new omicron sublineages BA.4 and BA.5 are overtaking BA2.12 and are causing reinfections that are more likely to cause lung problems in at-risk people and may lead to hospitalization and the need for ICU care. People of all ages and risk levels will be gathering and should be mindful of each other," said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "Test now, get up to date with your vaccines, and try to celebrate this weekend outdoors. Taking these steps will help protect loved ones and our hospital systems."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends COVID-19 vaccines for everyone 6 months and older. 

While most children in Travis County get their vaccines from physicians’ offices, APH is prepared to fill in the gaps until supply is more widely available. Appointments aren’t required at the Old Sims Elementary Gymnasium clinic (1203 Springdale Rd., Austin, TX 78721).

The clinic will be open Wednesday and Thursday from 2-7 p.m. It will be closed on Saturday, June 2, for Independence Day weekend.

The Shots for Tots program is also available for underserved communities.

"We have highly-trained staff at our testing and vaccine sites that are here to help make sure you have a safe weekend with family and friends," said APH Director Adrienne Sturrup. "We encourage families, especially those with young children, to come to our Old Sims clinic to start getting up to date with COVID-19 vaccines."

Free N95 respirators

Wearing a well-fitting mask offers protection for yourself and those around you. Free N95 respirators are available at some local pharmacies. Use a feature on the CDC’s website to find a location near you.

Free COVID-19 tests

APH encourages testing before and after gatherings, especially if you plan to be in close contact with individuals who are at risk. A third round of free mail-order COVID-19 test kits is available through the federal government. You can also pick up free rapid antigen tests at APH's Metz Elementary testing site (84 Robert T. Martinez Jr. St., Austin, TX 78702).

Testing and Vaccination Information

Find vaccine providers using ( in Spanish) or by texting your zip code to 438829 (822862 in Spanish) to find a nearby clinic.

APH clinics offer COVID-19 testing and vaccinations without an appointment, although creating an account online in advance saves time. COVID-19 vaccinations are free and require neither identification nor insurance. For more information and to schedule an appointment, call 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000 or visit