AUSTIN (KXAN) — Though the local health authority hasn’t officially announced that the Austin-Travis County area is moving to Stage 2 COVID-19 risk-based guidelines, the 7-day moving average of hospital admissions fell within the threshold of those guidelines Friday.
The metric APH largely uses to determine which COVID-19 risk-based guidelines we fall under is the 7-day moving average of new hospital admissions. The threshold for Stage 2 guidelines is anything under 15 and above 5. We hit 14 Friday. Anything below 5 would be in the threshold for Stage 1, the least restrictive tier.
Austin-Travis County hasn’t hit the threshold for Stage 1 guidelines since the start of the pandemic in 2020 when cases were first being reported. The guidance for Stage 1 and Stage 2 are the same.
It took APH roughly a week to transition the area from Stage 5 to Stage 4 COVID-19 risk-based guidelines after we hit the threshold for Stage 4. It took them roughly a week and a half to move the area from Stage 4 to Stage 3 after hitting the threshold for Stage 3 guidelines.
Dr. Desmar Walkes, the local health authority, said they want to ensure the trend down in cases continues and that they look at other factors outside of just the 7-day moving average of hospital admissions.
“We also look at vaccination rates and we look at staffing issues and so it’s a lot of consideration of all those aspects of the impact of this pandemic on our healthcare and our ability to take care of the community,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, the Austin-Travis County health authority, in a media Q&A Friday.
When the health authority does officially move the area to Stage 2 guidelines, here’s what that will mean for you based on vaccination status:
For people who are fully vaccinated, masks will only be recommended while traveling, as is required by federal law. During Stage 2, people who are vaccinated would be allowed to ditch the mask even during public gatherings indoors.
For people who are not fully vaccinated, the guidelines are different. Under the current guidance, people who are not fully vaccinated for COVID-19 would still be asked to wear a mask in all situations. The only difference between Stage 3 and Stage 2 would be that high-risk individuals are not discouraged from doing certain events.
According to the CDC, people who are unvaccinated are significantly more likely to contract the delta variant than people who are vaccinated, and therefore more likely to spread the virus.