TEXAS — With political upheaval and the mass shootings that have dominated news headlines in recent weeks, it may be easy to forget that COVID-19 remains a public health crisis.

Cases have declined significantly and the availability of vaccines has put the pandemic in the rearview mirror for much of the country, but virus spread continues, and it’s actually ticking back up in parts of Texas.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has moved Austin-Travis County, Hays County and Bexar County into the “medium” COVID-19 threat level. Dallas County remains at the “low” threat level.

The CDC measures COVID-19 community level threats by looking at new COVID admissions per 100,000 population in the last seven days, percent of inpatient beds with COVID patients and total new COVID patients per 100,000 population. Based on these numbers, CDC classifies counties into low, medium or high threat level.

Staying up to date on vaccines may result in lower risk of severe illness or death from COVID, according to the CDC. It encourages health officials and people to have layered prevention strategies to protect themselves from the virus. These may include wearing masks, ventilation and screening tests.

For those in a low threat community level, the CDC recommends you follow its regulations for isolation and quarantine if exposed to COVID. If you are immunocompromised, talk to your health care provider about further treatments to protect yourself.

In a medium threat community level, follow the recommendations above and if you have contact with someone at high risk for severe disease, consider self-testing before you see them and wearing a mask if you are indoors with them. Talk to your healthcare provider for additional layers of protection if you are at higher risk.

At a high threat community level, follow the previous recommendations and also wear a tight-fitting mask when indoors in public regardless of your vaccination status.​

The Texas Department of State Health Services on Thursday reported 6,539 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, 1,774 new probable cases and 19 more fatalities attributed to the disease.

A total of 1,383 Texans are currently hospitalized with the virus, of whom 232 are in intensive care. A total 82 pediatric patients are currently hospitalized with COVID in Texas.