Friday, December 31, 2021

New year, new variant: If you gather – do it outdoors, wear masks and minimize close contacts


 Don't gather if you feel sick

The omicron variant is the most contagious strain hospitals have seen yet, and the increase in cases is putting further stress on our hospital system. 

At Austin Public Health (APH) testing sites, 1 out of 4 people have positive results. On Thursday, over 1,860 tests were administered at the APH sites.  

With the recent move to Stage 4 of Risk-Based Guidelines, it’s as important as ever to follow safe practices to help keep yourself and others safe.  

“Let’s start 2022 with renewed energy in our fight against COVID-19,” said Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes. “We cannot afford to let our guard down and compromise future celebrations with loved ones.” 

Stage 4 recommendations include: 

  • Fully vaccinated and/or boosted individuals should wear masks when gathering with people outside of their household, traveling, dining, and shopping. 

  • Partially or unvaccinated individuals, and those who need their booster dose should wear masks, avoid gatherings with people outside of their household, only travel and shop if essential, and choose takeaway/curbside options for dining. Get fully vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible. 

“The omicron variant multiplies 70 times faster than delta in airways,” said Dr. Walkes. “This virus is spreading at an alarming rate and threatening our hospital systems at a time when they’re already dealing with staff shortages and an influx of patients.” 

Tips for celebrating the new year safely: 

-Avoid crowds this year and wear a mask if you find yourself in one. 
-If gathering with others outside your own household, take advantage of the unseasonably warm Texas weather and head outside.  
-If you’re gathering inside, open windows to improve air circulation
-Wear masks, especially in crowds and public indoor gatherings. 
-Watch the City fireworks virtually on ATXN or from afar. 
-Don’t gather if you feel sick. 
-Reserve emergency rooms for medical emergencies. Do not use for asymptomatic COVID-19 testing.

July 4th, 2022: Independence Day Holiday Closures

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