AUSTIN (KXAN) — A week and a half after Austin-Travis County hit the threshold for Stage 3 risk-based guidelines, Dr. Desmar Walkes, the local health authority, said we are officially moving to the lower stage of risk.
“We’re on the other side of the delta surge,” Walkes said in a joint city council, commissioners court meeting.
As of Monday, the 7-day rolling average of hospital admissions dropped down to 19. That’s the metric largely used to determine risk-based guidelines.
Here’s what Stage 3 means depending on vaccination status.
For people who are vaccinated, according to Austin Public Health:
During Stage 3, vaccinated people should take precautions (wear masks, social distance, etc.) at private indoor gatherings (with people outside of your household) and while traveling. Masks can be optional for private outdoor gatherings. Additionally, vaccinated individuals who are considered high risk due to certain underlying conditions should continue to take precautions when dining.
For people who are unvaccinated, according to APH:
Partially vaccinated and unvaccinated people should take precautions in private indoor and outdoor gatherings and while shopping, dining, and traveling. For partially vaccinated or unvaccinated high-risk individuals, private indoor and outdoor gatherings, shopping, dining, and travel should be avoided unless these activities are essential.
You can use the arrows to see what is recommended and not depending on vaccination status below.
So what does this mean for businesses and why are the guidelines laid out the way they are?
According to APH, businesses can fall under a few of the above categories, depending on what kind of business.
“The recommendation is if you are around people that you are not aware of their vaccination status and cannot safely/properly socially distance, the best precaution to always take is to wear a mask,” Matt Lara, the public information specialist for the City of Austin said.
Councilmember Mackenzie Kelly asked during Tuesday’s meeting if Stage 3 guidelines meant city employees would still need to wear masks at work.
“Taking that extra layer of protection of masking particularly in situations where there may be high risk individuals involved in the group settings, in workplaces, I think all of those things makes sense going forward,” Walkes said.
KXAN also asked APH why a mask is still recommended at indoor private events and not for events like shopping and dining is that you are around people for an extended period of time.
“At that event, you will be around those individuals for an extended period of time, indoors, and most likely not social distancing the entire time as you talk and interact with other people – all factors that increase the chances of contracting COVID,” he said.
Dr. Walkes said even though we’ve hit Stage 3, she still encourages people to use best practices to prevent COVID-19.
“I would urge our community to continue those practices that have kept us safe and helped us get through this last surge,” she said.