APH warns Stage 5 'imminent' as 1 in 3 tests positive for COVID

Austin Public Health says record numbers show 1 in 3 tests positive for COVID-19 in Central Texas and that without behavioral changes Stage 5 of its COVID-19 Risk-Based Guidelines is "imminent." APH says it and its regional partners report 30% of last week's tests are positive for COVID-19. 

APH teams administered 5,578 tests between Dec. 27 and Dec. 30. Officials say the positivity rate among APH sites alone is more than 28% and that the Community Transmission Rate in Austin-Travis County continues to exceed the statewide average.

"The omicron variant continues to spread at an alarming rate in our community. It poses a significant risk to our most vulnerable populations," said Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes in a news release. "As schools and businesses reopen after winter break, infections are going to spike to unprecedented levels. We must act accordingly—wear well-fitting masks anytime you leave your home, get vaccinated and boosted."

Officials say it's now more important than ever to wear masks when interacting with anyone outside of your household to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They also say COVID-19 testing is encouraged, especially following the holidays. Testing is available throughout the region at doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and APH sites. APH sites offer free PCR tests with or without appointments.

Workforces are already experiencing staffing shortages as a result of widespread infections and APH says medical facilities in Central Texas are no exception. To help reserve emergency rooms for medical emergencies, officials say people who are asymptomatic or experiencing minor symptoms may inquire about testing options by calling 2-1-1, 877-541-7905 or visiting  211texas.org. People are asked to avoid calling 9-1-1 for testing information. 

Other testing options include: 

Vaccination clinic update

APH says it administered 2,613 COVID-19 vaccine doses last week. In all, APH has helped deliver almost 377,000 doses since Dec. 28, 2021. More than 70% of people five and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in Travis County. Vaccination clinic operations resume this week with a few adjustments:

  • The Southeast Branch Library clinic is now exclusively open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Pfluger Hall is a new vaccination site: Tuesday and Wednesday, 2-7 p.m. (except 1/4/2022, 2/1/2022, 3/1/2022)

People can find vaccine providers using Vaccines.gov (Vacunas.gov in Spanish) or by texting their zip code to 438829 (822862 in Spanish) to find a nearby clinic. APH clinics offer COVID-19 vaccinations and testing 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 visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.

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