AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Public Health officials announced the City of Austin hit Stage 4 of its risk-based guidelines over the weekend after a spike in hospitalizations. In response, Austin and Travis County leaders announced on Monday they would extend Stay-at-Home orders for another month.
Leaders heavily focused on the importance of wearing face coverings and encouraged the public to do so in a Monday news conference. They also discussed Stage 4 guidelines, which include people sticking to smaller groups of no more than 10 people with those who are high-risk to avoid crowds of more than two people.
While the city has issued an extended order, enforcement will greatly depend on the public.
“I don’t want to wake up in five, six, or seven weeks from now where our doctors are working in a hospital 14 hours a day, and we’re all looking at it and looking at each other asking how did this happen?” Mayor Steve Adler asked and added, “the decisions we are making right now will ultimately decide whether or not that happens, so it is on us. It is our responsibility and we will live with whatever the consequences are of the decisions that we make.”
Adler said the best tool they have is data. He added that by releasing it, he believes people will take the steps necessary to protect themselves.
“I trust our community so our job is just to get at the information in the data for people to know that confirmed cases are going up at a higher rate and testing is going on that our seeing geometric increases in the number of cases,” he said.
City and county leaders also discussed the importance of maintaining social distancing while out in public.
“Ultimately our job as a city is to get information data and get it out to the community as quickly as we can so that we arm the community to make good choices. Our community will act as a collection of individual determinations. Now is the time for each of us to pause and to really think about what we value and what’s important and act accordingly to that,” Adler said.
He said enforcement could also come in a different way with the city potentially shutting down public amenities like libraries, pools and parks.
“I am concerned with the number of people that are not wearing face coverings, and the number of people that are not social distancing, and given the fact that we have now moved from risk level three to risk level four, the city is evaluating its city services to see what we need to do to best protect the public health in the community,” Adler said.
Since the beginning of June, Austin’s 311 Department has received over 150 reports related to overcrowding at businesses. From June 1-7, the department received 60 service requests, but last week that number shot up to just shy of 100 reports. From June 8-12, the department received 99 service requests related to overcrowding at businesses including places such as restaurants and bars.