| |For immediate release: December 11, 2020
Contact: Austin-Travis County Joint Information System, 512-974-0699, email@example.com
Austin-Travis County Passes Grim Milestone of 500 COVID-19 Deaths
Health officials' plea: Keep those who are high-risk safe
|Austin, Texas – Austin-Travis County surpassed 500 COVID-19 deaths yesterday, as the community mourns the loss of 502 people who called the Austin area home. As of Dec. 10, there have been 23,325 COVID-19 deaths statewide. The City of Austin and Travis County health officials warn that while the public may be feeling pandemic fatigue, COVID-19 is still very active and deadly in the community. The science is clear – there is no doubt that mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.|
"We are so close to having access to a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, so we must stay the course to protect our loved ones," said Austin Public Health (APH) Director Stephanie Hayden. "We must continue to take the same precautions we have been encouraging throughout the pandemic: wash your hands, stay home if you are sick, avoid nonessential trips outside the home, and if you do leave your home, social distance and wear a face mask."
Local deaths range from cases as young as 20 years old to those over 80, while the majority of deaths are in persons over 60 years old. The APH surveillance dashboard (mobile link) provides more information on the demographics of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Travis County ranks among the lowest pandemic-related death toll per capita compared to peer Texas counties, however, due to the infectious nature of the virus, this can change rapidly if preventative behavior among Austin-Travis County residents lapses.
"One death is too many. It is hard to fathom 502 loved ones lost," said Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott. "We all want to return to normal, but we also want to protect our family and friends from the pandemic. Our community is strong, and we cannot do this without each other."
October 29, 2020 Austin Public Health remembers 450 COVID-19 victims with candle memorial
The APH risk-based guidelines chart outlines recommended behavior for individuals at different stages of community spread. Austin-Travis County is currently in Stage 4, but could move to Stage 5 if there were a rapid increase in hospitalizations.
In Stage 4, higher-risk individuals (those over the age of 65 and those who have chronic medical conditions) should stay home except for essential trips, such as buying groceries or seeking medical care. Lower-risk individuals should avoid social gatherings, any gatherings greater than 10 people, and non-essential travel. Businesses and restaurants should consider voluntarily reducing capacity to 25-50%, and schools should limit attendance at sporting events to players, coaches, and parents.
Showing Symptoms? Exposed to a Positive Case? Get Tested and Quarantine.
APH manages several testing sites across Austin and Travis County. Individuals can complete an assessment to see if they qualify for a free test at covid19.austintexas.gov. If they do not have access to the internet, they can call the APH nurse hotline at 512-972-5560 to complete the assessment. Individuals who are unable to leave their homes for a test can also call the APH nurse hotline to request an in-home test.
There are other ways to get tested beside through APH test sites – individuals with insurance should call their doctor or insurance company to review their options, and CommUnityCare also offers free testing to those without insurance.
Information in Spanish
Much of the information in this release, as well as additional COVID-19 information, is available in Spanish at AustinTexas.gov/Covid19-sp. This information is consistently updated to reflect current rules and regulations.
For more information about COVID-19, visit AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.