Austin, Travis County drop to Stage 3 in COVID-19 risk guidelines

COVID-19 update
Photo credit ATXN

AUSTIN ( -- With hospitalization numbers continuing to improve across the metro area, Austin Public Health is falling back to Stage 3 in its COVID-19 risk-based guidelines.

Dr. Desmar Walkes, health authority for the City of Austin and Travis County, made the announcement Tuesday morning during a joint meeting of the Austin City Council and the Travis County Commissioners Court.

“Now is not the time to let our guard down. While our numbers are dramatically better than they were at the peak of this surge, we need to remain committed with the widespread, highly transmissible Delta variant,” said Dr. Walkes. "Flu season is just beginning, and it will not take much to trigger another surge of cases and overburden our hospital systems again. Get vaccinated, get tested, and stay home if you are sick.”

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One of the key metrics that officials have been watching is the 7-day moving average of hospitalizations, which has dropped 60 percent from a peak of 641.9 on Aug. 27. As of yesterday, the average was down to 254.9. Officials are also watching the COVID-19 positivity rate, the doubling time of new cases, and current ICU and ventilator patients.

Under the Stage 3 guidelines, fully vaccinated individuals can participate in indoor and outdoor private gatherings, and dine and shop without masking if allowed by the business, and travel without masking. Fully vaccinated high-risk individuals should continue masking when dining indoors. Those who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated should continue to mask while participating in indoor and outdoor private gatherings, dining, shopping, and other activities.