‘This disease is still here’: APH discusses COVID-19 response after biggest single-day increase in cases

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Public Health gave an update on the city’s response to the coronavirus pandemic after the largest single day increase in cases seen Tuesday.

The press conference was hosted by, Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott, and APH Chief Epidemiologist Janet Pichette.

According to Escott, the city typically sees a lull in cases over weekends leading into a spike in cases on Monday, and usually they see a dip in cases on Tuesday. However, this past week the APH saw a spike in cases following the Monday increase. Escott said this increase is causing them to grow concerned for the reports to come out for the rest of the week.

“As we have seen in the past we see a lull over the weekend due to a number of factors including decreased reporting back from the labs but usually on Tuesdays we have a decrease from that Monday high,” explained Escott.

“But instead yesterday we saw an increase again. So w are particularly concerned with the numbers that may come out today, we will be watching that closely.”

Escott explained that it is important for Austin residents to understand that COVID-19 has not gone away despite what they are seeing on social media and TV.

“This disease is still here, it’s still a risk for us. we still have people hospitalized, we still have people dying,” said Escott.

He said that Austin does not need to live in fear as long as residents continue to adhere to the simple precautions they have been discussing for months, including face coverings, social distancing, and proper hygiene.

According to APH, four COVID-19 clusters are being investigated in the food service industry. Austin 311 has received 6,169 reports about social distancing or over capacity.

APH Chief Epidemiologist Janet Pichette discussed how the APH’s dashboard shows two epidemiological curves. One shows the raw number of cases as the APH is processing them, and the other tracks symptom onset.

“So the second epi-curve that you see is based on symptom onset, and that really tells us when and gives us a better picture of when people were ill and where they were based on when the case was reported in to us, because there could be a lag there,” said Pichette.

Escott explained that the recent cases reported over the past three days were onset a week to 10 days ago. He said the cases the city is seeing reported are primarily due to the reopening of the state and residents having increased risk taking activity..

“So right now we are seeing an increase primarily that seems based upon the reopening based upon memorial day activities but quite frankly we also have an increase in risk taking behavior,” said Escott.

“What I mean by that is people are less cautious, they are not wearing masks as mush, they are not social distancing as much and they are not paying as much attention to other personal hygiene messages like washing their hands frequently and not touching your face.”

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