Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Austin and Travis County Release Masking Orders and Guidance


Latest actions aims to reduce surge of cases placing unreasonable burden on hospital systems   

With the surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases in Austin-Travis County health officials moved to Stage 5 of the COVID-19 risk-based guidelines on Aug. 5. As the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the City of Austin and Travis County issued masking orders to slow the spread and reduce the impact on public health and the regional hospital systems. 

The summer surge is the fastest growing the state has ever experienced in the pandemic to date. Today's actions are based on a rapid increase in hospital admissions, cases, and test positivity rates across the community. Additionally, the rapidly accelerating need to provide care for unvaccinated people who are seriously ill due to COVID-19 has filled Intensive Care Units (ICUs). An increasing number of infants, children and teens have experienced severe illness due to  the Delta variant, especially those under 12 years of age who are not yet eligible for vaccine.  

"Masks address the surge, and vaccinations will end the pandemic. To get out of this, we need to do both as a community," said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority.  

City of Austin Mayor and Travis County Judge orders follow the move to Stage 5 and Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations ultimately promoting the health and safety of Austin-Travis County residents in the fight against COVID-19. 

Under the latest orders enacted by the City of Austin and Travis County: 

  • Students, staff, and visitors over the age of two are REQUIRED to wear a face covering while on school property or school buses during Stages 3, 4, and 5 as set forth in Austin Public Health's Risk-Based Chart. This includes all public schools, including public charter schools in the City of Austin. 

  • An individual over the age of two is REQUIRED to wear a face covering while present on or in City and County property unless expressly exempted in Section 2 or by a City or County policy applicable to the premises or facility. 

Read the full orders for Austin (Schools)/Austin (Facilities) and Travis County Orders

"Today's Order to require masks in certain places is both to support Austin ISD's decision to protect children and the city's duty to protect its employees and the community," said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. "The Order requires masks in public schools and inside city buildings as part of my commitment to use all available tools to keep this community safe. These are necessary yet difficult decisions, but those guided by the data and doctors will remain our North Star." 

The orders for Travis County and the City of Austin are effective as of 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 12, 2021, and govern individuals and sites and impose requirements reasonably necessary to protect public health related to the transmission of COVID-19. 

"The order I signed today will protect countless lives and keep our community safe by requiring masks in public schools and county buildings," said Travis County Judge Andy Brown. "Our community faces the largest COVID-19 surge since the start of the pandemic. Kids, unable to get vaccines, are going back to school in-person next week. Our community, public health officials, and working families have called on us to take this reasonable measure. If you haven't yet, this is the time to get vaccinated." 

Under STAGE 5, individuals should continue to follow these personal recommendations: 

Fully vaccinated individuals should:  

  • If you are high-risk with underlying conditions, avoid large gatherings where masks are not required.  

  • Help us get the rest of the population vaccinated by talking with your loved ones who may be unvaccinated. 

Partially or unvaccinated individuals should:  

  • Get fully vaccinated.   

  • Stay home and avoid gatherings, travel. Choose curbside and delivery options.   

  • If you must go out, wear a mask when conducting essential activities. Choose establishments that are protecting their customers and staff with mask wearing, social distancing and measures to stop the spread of COVID-19  

Additional Resources and Information 

It is easier than ever before to get a vaccine or test. COVID-19 vaccinations are free and require neither identification nor insurance. In many cases, residents can walk up without an appointment.  

Residents can locate providers in their area using Vaccines.gov or texting their zip code to 438829 (822862 in Spanish) to find a nearby clinic. Residents can also call 3-1-1 (512-974-2000) for more information regarding COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. Additionally, Capital Metro is providing free transportation to vaccination sites through their VaccineAccess program.  

For additional business guidance, visit www.ATXrecovers.com for recommendations to help prioritize the well-being of employees and customers.   

For COVID-19 updates, testing, and vaccination information visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.

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