‘Still have a ways to go’: Austin-Travis County could be downgraded to Stage 2 by mid-April

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin-Travis County’s Interim Health Authority said while there’s a lot of work left to do to prevent the spread of the virus, the area could be in a position to move to Stage 2 of COVID-19 risk levels by mid-April.

Dr. Mark Escott told the Austin City Council and Travis County Commissioners Tuesday that in order to get there, the community has to continue its commitment to wearing masks and social distancing.

“We still have a ways to go to get down to Stage 2,” he said.

The 7-day rolling average of new hospitalizations is at 22 as of Tuesday morning, continuing a plateau since March 18. There were 19 new hospitalizations reported Monday. To get to Stage 2, the rolling average needs to less than 10.

Escott summarized that COVID-19 numbers in the Austin area have generally been declining since January. However, over the past six days, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been relatively flat.

A graph from Austin Public Health showing COVID-19 cases in Travis County by date. Graph presented at joint Austin City Council and Travis County Commissioners meeting on March 23, 2020. Graph courtesy of Austin Public Health.

“Some folks are asking ‘why is Austin, why is Travis County persisting in these mandates? Why are they doing things which are more protective than other jurisdictions?'” Escott said.

“And the answer is: it’s working,” he continued.

Escott pointed to a graph showing the COVID-19 case fatality rates in areas across the state. Travis County has a rate of 73.2 COVID-19 deaths per hundred thousand people. By comparison, the average for Texas is 160 deaths per hundred thousand people.

A graph presented by Austin Public Health at the joint meeting of Austin City Council and Travis County Commissioners on March 23, 2020 comparing COVID-19 case fatality rates over time for different areas of Texas.

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