AUSTIN (KXAN) — To plunge or not to plunge? That is the question organizers and participants are waiting for the city of Austin to answer.
Barton Springs Conservancy, the group that organizes the Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day, said it hasn’t heard from city officials whether or not they’ll be allowed to hold the event. It was canceled last year due to COVID-19 concerns, and there are similar circumstances surrounding this year’s event.
On Wednesday, Austin-Travis County health leaders moved the area back into Stage 4 of the COVID-19 risk-based guidelines. While the recommendations with the stage have changed a bit since last year, the event was called off last year as Austin Public Health shifted to Stage 4.
The area was also on the brink of Stage 5 last year when the event was canceled, and that’s is also the case this year. The latest numbers updated Wednesday show the 7-day average of new hospitalizations has spiked to 43, and the 7-day average of community transmission rate has skyrocketed to 405 per 100,000 people.
The updated guidelines for Stage 4 behavior are to wear a mask in all situations, indoor and outdoor, and even if you’re fully vaccinated with a booster shot. For people who are not fully vaccinated or boosted, it recommends eliminating travel and only dining or shopping through takeout or curbside service.