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Travis County’s COVID-19 community level is high to medium


AUSTIN, Texas – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday upgraded Travis County’s COVID-19 community level from low to medium. The total number of new cases has reached the threshold necessary to trigger additional preventive measures. Updated risk-based guidelines include masking in many circumstances.

“We are seeing a steady increase in total cases and hospitalizations, which is extremely concerning,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority. “We need everyone to do their part, especially those who are at higher risk. Wear a mask indoors when gathering with others. We know this will help protect loved ones at risk of poor outcomes and our hospital system.

Austin Public Health (APH) continues to monitor the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, including the new omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants now present in our region. A key defining measure for community levels, new cases per 100,000 population over the past 7 days, stands at 202.99. Travis County’s community level went from low to medium when this metric hit 200, per CDC guidelines.

APH also conducts wastewater monitoring to monitor the presence of SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19, circulating in the community. Data for Travis County can be found online.

“We all have mask fatigue, but wearing a mask is what is needed to control COVID-19,” Austin Public Health Director Adrienne Sturrup said. “Testing and vaccination and booster are also essential. Get tested and stay home even if you only feel mildly ill. Get an update on your vaccinations at your doctor’s office or at one of our clinics.

Risk-Based Guidelines

Recommendations for people up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Low: Optional masking during gatherings, meals, and shopping.

  • Medium: optional masking during collection, meals and shopping. Hide when social distancing is not possible.

  • High: Masking indoors regardless of vaccination/risk status during gatherings, meals and shopping.

Recommendations for people at risk:

  • Get up to date on your vaccines as soon as possible.

  • Low: Optional masking during gatherings, meals, and shopping.

  • Medium: Indoor masking at gatherings, meals, and errands.

  • High: Masking indoors regardless of vaccination/risk status during gatherings, meals and shopping.

At all risk levels, APH supports wearing a properly fitted mask and practicing social distancing as additional layers of protection to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially as we see an increase in case reports and hospital admissions. hospital in the community. Even at low levels, people can wear a mask based on personal preference, depending on their level of risk. People with symptoms or those who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.

About Community Tiers

APH updated its risk-based guidelines to align with the CDC’s community-level measures in March. Community levels are determined by a combination of factors, including new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population over the past seven days, the percentage of inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and the total number of new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population in the last seven days.

The CDC has moved to the community level as much of the country has reached high levels of vaccination. The community levels model aims to protect those most at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and reduce the strain on health systems.

CDC COVID-19 Community Levels

Free N95 respirators

Wearing a properly fitted mask provides protection for yourself and those around you. Free N95 respirators are available at some local pharmacies. Use a feature on the CDC 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 people at risk. A third set of free mail-order COVID-19 test kits is available from the federal government. You can also get free rapid antigen tests at APH’s Metz Elementary testing site (84 Robert T. Martinez Jr. St., Austin, TX 78702).

Information on tests and vaccination

Find vaccine providers by using Vaccines.gov (Vacunas.gov in Spanish) or by texting your zip code to 438829 (822862 in Spanish) to find a clinic near you.

APH clinics offer walk-in COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, though creating an online account in advance saves time. COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require ID or insurance. For more information and to make an appointment, call 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000 or visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.

A list of Travis County vaccine distribution events is available online.

The APH Mobile Vaccination Program brings vaccination clinics to businesses, churches and more. APH asks all organizations to complete an online form to request a pop-up clinic.

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About Austin Public Health

Austin Public Health is the health department for the City of Austin and Travis County. Austin Public Health works to prevent disease, promote health, and protect the well-being of all by monitoring and preventing infectious diseases and environmental threats and educating about the benefits of preventative behaviors to avoid chronic disease and improve health outcomes.