Austin-Travis County hits threshold for Stage 4 guidelines

Coronavirus

FILE: A vaccination record card is shown during a COVID-19 vaccination drive for Spring Branch Independent School District education workers Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in Houston. School employees who registered were given the Pfizer vaccine.(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The seven-day moving average for hospital admissions dropped below 50 for the first time since early August to 49 Tuesday. That’s the metric health leaders largely use to decide which risk-based guidelines the area falls in.

Health leaders have not officially declared that we’re in Stage 4 guidelines, and the website still shows we’re in Stage 5. Austin Public Health sent us the following statement:

“While APH monitors the 7-day moving average of COVID-19 new hospital admissions as the primary key indicator for the Risk-Based Guidelines, additional key indicators, including positivity rate, the doubling time of new cases, and current ICU and ventilator patients, are monitored to determine the current staging. We will continue to evaluate these other data points to determine if/when Stage 4 will happen.”

Stage 4 guidelines recommend vaccinated people, regardless of risk, do day-to-day activities in a mask. For people who are unvaccinated, it would only loosen guidelines on travel slightly.

Travis County has now surpassed 70% of the eligible population fully vaccinated. Still, Dr. Desmar Walkes, the local health authority, has said our ICUs are over capacity. More people in our hospitals are coming from surrounding counties than was the case earlier in the pandemic, she said.

Use the arrows to navigate the COVID-19 risk-based guidelines chart for vaccinated and unvaccinated residents of Austin-Travis County below.

COVID-19 risk-based guidelines for unvaccinated residents

For vaccinated individuals the recommendations are as follows: 

Stage 4: Participate in indoor or outdoor private gatherings, dine or shop, and travel with precautions. 

For partially or unvaccinated individuals, the guidelines are stricter:

In Stages 4 and 5: All partially or not vaccinated individuals, regardless of risk should avoid most activities unless essential. It is recommended that shopping and dining be takeaway and/or curbside.

Recommendations can and have been changed by Austin Public Health as more data is collected on the delta variant and its impacts on our community.

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