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.
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.