AUSTIN (KXAN) — The risk that COVID-19 presents to the community in Travis and Hays counties was upgraded to “medium” — a level 2 out of 3 risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Each week since Feb. 24, the CDC assigns a “COVID-19 Community Level” to each county nationwide based on how the virus is impacting local populations.
Low, medium and high-risk categories are determined based on three factors: number of new cases in the past seven days, new hospital admissions in the past seven days, and percent of staffed hospital beds being used by COVID-19 patients.
It’s the first time since Feb. 24 that Hays County has not been in the low category. At that time, the COVID risk was considered high.
Meanwhile, this is the first time since the CDC introduced the community levels that Travis County has not been in the low-risk category.
“We’re seeing steady increases in case totals and hospitalizations which is incredibly concerning,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority. “We need everyone to do their part, especially those who are at higher risk. Wear a mask inside when gathering with others. We know that this will help protect loved ones at risk for poor outcomes and our hospital system.”
Caldwell County is also considered at medium risk, for the third week in a row.
Travis, Hays and Caldwell counties all remain in the low range for hospital admissions and bed usage but have surpassed the threshold of new cases to automatically be moved to medium risk.
As of June 9, Travis County has added 202.99 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. Hays County has added 219.82, and Caldwell County has added 231.31. The threshold for medium risk is 200 cases per 100,000 residents.
Hidalgo County, home to McAllen, has been upgraded to high risk, marking the first time since March that county in Texas has been in the high-risk category. In addition to Travis, Hays and Caldwell, 23 other counties in the state are in the medium-risk category.
The CDC has the following recommendations for people depending on which COVID-19 Community Level their county is in:
- Stay up-to-date with COVID vaccines
- Get tested if you have symptoms
- Same precautions as low risk and:
- Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you should wear a mask and take other precautions if you are at high risk for severe illness
- Same precautions as medium risk and:
- Wear a mask indoors in public
- Additional precautions may be needed for people at high risk for severe illness
“We all have mask fatigue, but wearing a mask is what’s necessary to keep COVID-19 in check,” said Austin Public Health Director Adrienne Sturrup. “Testing and getting vaccinated and boosted are also critical. Take a test and stay home even if you only feel slightly sick. Get up to date on your vaccines at your doctor’s office or at one of our clinics.”