AUSTIN, Texas — Austin Public Health earlier this week warned that without “demonstrative behavior changes” the Austin-Travis County region would return to Stage 5 of COVID risked-based guidelines.

On Thursday morning, it happened.

What You Need To Know

  • Austin-Travis County on Jan. 6 returned to Stage 5 of COVID-19 risk-based guidelines. It includes the strictist recommendations to curb the spread of the disease 

  • The move comes as hospitals fill with COVID patients and the local testing positivity rate is 29% 

  • Under Stage 5 guidelines, everyone, regardless of vaccination status, is urged to wear a mask in public spaces

  • People who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated are urged to travel and shop only if essential 

The move back to Stage 5 was prompted by a dramatic increase in hospitalizations in the region as well as local positivity rate of 29%, which is higher than the state average.

Stage 5 includes the most stringent public health recommendations. Everyone, regardless is vaccination status, is urged to wear masks in public spaces.

“The omicron variant continues to spread at an alarming rate in our community. It poses a significant risk to our most vulnerable populations,” Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said earlier this week. “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.”

Those who have not gotten vaccinated are urged to do so, and those who have been vaccinated but have not received a booster shot are strongly encouraged to do so.

Partially vaccinated and unvaccinated people, in addition to wearing masks in public spaces, are urged to avoid gatherings with people outside of the households, only travel and shop if it is essential and limit dining to curbside pickup or carryout.

While the situation is serious, there has been no discussion so far about canceling live events or limiting businesses in any fashion.

For information on testing and vaccination in Travis County, click here

People identified as being at high risk from the disease should avoid indoor and outdoor gatherings, avoid travel, limit dining to outdoors with precautions and limit shopping to outdoors, curbside or takeaway.

People identified as being at lower risk should take precautions at gatherings and while traveling, shopping or dining.

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