Williamson County moves to ‘Red Phase’ after ‘uncontrolled community spread’ of COVID-19

Coronavirus

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Williamson County has moved to the “Red Phase” of its COVID-19 risk chart Thursday, Judge Bill Gravell announced.

“The increasing transmission rate and movement into the WCCHD red phase is a great opportunity to remind people during this Thanksgiving season to wear a mask, wash hands frequently, and keep six feet of distance from others not in your household,” Gravell wrote.

The “Red Phase” is considered a period with “uncontrolled community spread” and indicates that there has been an increase in cases and hospitalizations over the past seven days while in “Orange Phase.” Williamson County moved to that previous phase Nov. 11. According to the Williamson County & Cities Health District, the rate of new reported infections, or incidence rate, increased from 10.76 to 13.08 per 100,000 residents in the past week.

Under the “Red Phase,” people should stay home and avoid gatherings and continue to wear masks, social distance and wash hands. These are guidelines, however, and can be superseded by Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders.

Williamson County had 126 new cases reported since Wednesday. It has had a total of 11,300 confirmed cases.

Gravell added while the number of cases in the area has increased, other important numbers like the hospitalization rate are still below Abbott’s threshold for taking more strict measures. That threshold is having seven days where the number of COVID-19 patients makes up 15% of hospital capacity.

“It is imperative at this time that we have an all-hands-on-deck approach to strictly enforce any mitigation measures permitted under Governor Abbott’s Orders, including capacity limitations, mask and distancing enforcement, and isolation/quarantine procedures,” said Dr. Lori Palazzo, Williamson County Health Authority and WCCHD Medical Director.  “It will take all of us collectively to slow transmission enough to prevent our healthcare capacity from being exceeded. The threat has never been greater. Immediate action has never been more necessary.”

On Thursday, Austin and Travis County moved to a Stage 4 risk level, because of a lack of medical personnel. Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said there were 300 new cases reported Wednesday, which is the highest since the middle of August. The positivity rate is approaching 7%.

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