Officials: COVID-19 is beginning to level out in Central Texas

There is good news to report on the COVID-19 front, transmission seems to be leveling off. "This is a good sign. It's not going down yet but it's a least flat, which indicates that our community is responding," said Dr. Mark Escott, interim health authority, Austin Public Health.

The community's positivity rate is something Escott has been watching closely. "The data presented last week:16.2 percent has dropped to 12.8 percent. This is a positive indication that things may be slowing significantly," he said.

Escott said although some of the numbers are trending downward, we are still not at an acceptable rate to begin easing stage five restrictions.

"That moving average of hospitalizations is a record high and we are 97 percent above where we were a month ago. ICU numbers yesterday 176 with a moving average of 183, that's up 101 percent in the last month," said Escott.

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The news is welcomed, just as the 87th legislative session begins. Escott strongly recommends lawmakers and aides to all be vaccinated, regardless of eligibility.

"Number one we have a unique event which is happening in our jurisdiction in the City of Austin, in Travis County and that is a legislative session which brings individuals from around the state of Texas to one place. Thousands of people who are going to be in contact for six months," said Escott.

He also believes essential government services must continue without the threat of the virus. The news of transmission leveling off comes as officials hope to buy time to get shots into arms.

"We are working with several partners, one we are working on plans to be able to look at large scale events in our community," said Stephanie Hayden-Howard, director, APH.

The portal to sign up has been overrun, APH said they have hired people to help make the sign-up effort much more seamless.

Hayden-Howard says the vaccine registration portal has received 166,000 people, with 60,000 being eligible for the vaccine. High website traffic has created a login glitch.

To overcome that, Hayden-Howard said to add ".aph" to the end of your username when logging in. So if your email address is johndoe@hotmail.com, you would need to use johndoe@hotmail.com.aph as your username.

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