AUSTIN, Texas -- It’s not the direction we want to be headed in as social distancing measures are loosened and businesses are permitted to increase occupancy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The seven-day average for hospitalizations in Austin-Travis County has now surpassed 20, pushing the region into Stage 4 on Austin Public Health’s risk-based chart.
The chart was introduced in May and divides risk into five stages, with Stage 1 presenting the least amount of risk and Stage 5 the most.
At the time the chart was introduced Austin-Travis County was in Stage 3. This comes at a pivotal time because Texas is currently in Phase 3 of the plan to reopen the state’s economy.
As of June 12, restaurants can expand occupancy to 75 percent. Nearly all businesses can operate at 50 percent capacity. Beginning June 19, amusement parks and carnivals in counties with more than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 may open at 50 percent capacity.
Under Stage 4 guidelines, it’s recommended you avoid sick people, wear a facial covering in public and maintain social distancing. It’s also recommended people at higher risk of contracting the novel coronavirus avoid social gatherings and any gatherings of greater than two people.
High-risk people should also avoid non-essential travel and dining out and shopping other than what is essential, the chart states.
It’s even recommended people with lower risk avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and non-essential travel.
Stage 4 recommendations don’t gel well with Phase 3 permissions, so what effect Austin Public Health’s guidelines have in our region remains to be seen.