AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin metro area’s number of new COVID-19 hospitalizations just passed the threshold required to shift to Stage 4 in the city’s risk-based guidelines.

While still officially in Stage 3, Austin-Travis County’s hospitalization numbers would warrant an upgrade in stage levels. As of Monday, an average of 28 people have been admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 each day over the past seven days. The threshold for Stage 4 is an average of 25 hospital admissions per day.

APH leaders recently lowered the threshold from 29, citing the omicron variant-fueled surge. A preliminary report from the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium showed omicron could lead to the “largest healthcare surge to date.”

“We are lowing our Stage 4 threshold to 25 because the UT modeling consortium reports that omicron will overtake delta in our community,” Dr. Desmar Walkes, the local health authority, said in a briefing last week.

APH released numbers Monday from over the Christmas holiday weekend. During that time, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the five-county Austin metro area jumped from 109 to 176, a 61 percent increase over five days.

During the same time, the number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds increased from 36 to 51, and the number on a ventilator increased from 16 to 28.

Meanwhile, the Community Transmission Rate (CTR), another metric APH uses to determine stages, has been in Stage 5 territory for more than a week. The CTR is a 7-day average of the number of new cases per 100,000 people. It’s also used by the CDC to determine COVID hotspots in the U.S.

As of Monday, the CTR in Travis County is about 167 new cases each day per 100,000 people, according to the CDC. The threshold for Stage 5, as determined by APH, is 100.

COVID-19 risk-based guidelines chart
Courtesy Austin Public Health

Health leaders are urging community members to use face masks in public spaces regardless of vaccination status, test over the holidays and during travel, and get fully vaccinated including a booster shot.