Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Austin-Travis County Moves Back to Stage 4 of Risk-Based Guidelines

For immediate release: February 9, 2021
Contact:  Austin-Travis County Joint Information System, 512-974-0699, hsempio@austintexas.gov

Austin-Travis County Moves Back to Stage 4 of Risk-Based Guidelines
Masking, social distancing, and handwashing remains critical

Austin, Texas – Today, Feb. 9, City of Austin and Travis County leaders announced a move to Stage 4 of the Austin Public Health (APH) COVID-19 Risk-Based Guidelines. Nevertheless, it remains imperative that residents continue to practice all necessary precautions to further reduce the COVID-19 positivity rate. 

Stage 4 recommendations include the following: 

  • 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 voluntarily operate at a reduced capacity of 25-50%.  
  • Schools voluntarily limit attendance at sporting events to players, coaches, and parents. 

The Risk-Based Guidelines are not changes to local Orders and Rules or regulations for businesses; they are guidelines for individual actions and behaviors based on levels of risk of exposure in the community. The risk level recommendations are different for those who are at higher risk for severe complications and death from COVID-19. 

While APH monitors the 7-day moving average of COVID-19 new hospital admissions as the primary key indicator for the Risk-Based Guidelines, additional key indicators, including positivity rate, the doubling time of new cases and current ICU and ventilator patients, are monitored to determine the current staging. All of these indicators are moving in the right direction. Additionally, modeling provided by the University of Texas also indicates an improving COVID-19 situation in the community. 

"As the pace of vaccinations hopefully continues to rise and people continue to stay safe, we can keep moving this community in a positive direction," said APH Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard.

City and County health leaders moved Austin-Travis County to Stage 5 for the first time during the pandemic on Dec. 23, 2020. People gathering over the holidays played a significant role in the case  surge, and consequently an increase in severe illness and death. APH is constantly monitoring how major events impact COVID-19 cases in the community and should be able to observe how the Super Bowl impacted our area in the next 14 days. 

"Particularly given the presence of a more contagious variant in our community, we would like individuals to continue to take protective actions," said Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority. "We have been successful because of the choices the community has made to be safe and follow the data-driven risk guidelines." 

For the latest information and updates, visit  AustinTexas.gov/COVID19 

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