AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Public Health officials announced Tuesday recommended COVID-19 preventative measures ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, as Travis County’s community level enters medium ranking.

Officials recommended indoor masking, especially for those who are at higher risk for serious illness due to COVID-19. Residents are advised to stay home and not attend gatherings if they’re experiencing symptoms, which include mild, allergy-like symptoms such as a scratchy throat or runny nose.

APH said people should make sure they’re up to date on COVID vaccines, including booster doses. Officials noted “concerning trends” in transmission levels, with new omicron sublineages BA.4 and BA.5 rising in prominence and causing reinfections.

The newer sublineages have also been linked to lung problems in at-risk people, which could increase hospitalizations, officials said.

“People of all ages and risk levels will be gathering and should be mindful of each other,” Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said in the release. “Test now, get up to date with your vaccines, and try to celebrate this weekend outdoors.”

In the Austin-Travis County region, new cases per 100,000 population surpassed 200 cases within the past seven days, elevating community risk levels. New COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 population have also risen to 5.8 hospitalizations within the past seven days, while inpatient beds occupied by COVID patients rose 2.5%.

Where to get tested

APH is now offering vaccines for residents ages six months and older, in addition to Travis County pediatricians offering child-sized vaccines at their offices.

APH offers walk-in appointments at the Old Sims Elementary Gymnasium clinic, located at 1203 Springdale Road, Austin. The clinic is open from 2-7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and will be closed Saturday in observance of Independence Day weekend.

A full list of testing locations is available here.

Free masks, at-home testing kits available

APH recommends wearing a well-fitted mask to protect yourself and others from possible COVID transmissions. Free N95 respirators are available at local pharmacies, with a locator available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

U.S. homes are eligible for a third round of free at-home COVID testing kits delivered through the United States Postal Service. APH also offers free rapid antigen tests for pickup at the Metz Elementary testing site, located at 84 Robert T. Martinez Jr. St., Austin.

APH also lists more information on vaccination clinics online.