Thursday, May 26, 2022

Extra Health Precautions Warranted Ahead of Memorial Day Weekend

 Austin Public Health (APH) encourages additional preventive measures ahead of Memorial Day weekend. Reported cases of COVID-19 are increasing in Travis County as APH epidemiologists continue tracking outbreaks and clusters. A key determining metric for the Community Level, new COVID-19 cases per 100k population in the last 7 days, is climbing. As of 5/26, that figure is almost 180. Our Community Level is currently low, but once this metric reaches 200, Travis County’s Community Level moves to medium.  

Loved ones who are at risk for serious illness from COVID-19—and anyone who has close contact—should consider masking indoors. Additionally, stay home if you experience symptoms and test. Booster doses begin working immediately, and it’s not too late to get one before gathering and traveling. 

"We know this weekend’s celebrations will include many multigenerational gatherings," said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "These gatherings have been associated with a surge in cases. We know how to prevent the spread of COVID-10. If we get boosted, celebrate outdoors when possible and wear masks indoors to protect those at risk, we can stop the current rise in cases." 

Getting up to date with COVID-19 vaccines is still the best way to protect against serious infection and hospitalizations. Booster doses are now authorized for everyone 5 and older. The CDC recommends a second booster dose for everyone 50 and older, noting "a steep and substantial increase in hospitalizations for older Americans." Even though older age groups have among the highest booster dose coverage, they most likely got their last dose many months ago and would benefit from additional protection. 

Studies show booster doses prompt the body to makes antibodies capable of neutralizing a range of COVID-19 variants. The BA.2 omicron subvariant currently accounts for most COVID-19 infections in Travis County. While this version can cause mild disease for those who are not considered high risk, it’s more transmissible. Everyone should get vaccinated and boosted as soon as they’re eligible. 

"We're more equipped than ever to keep COVID-19 in check," said APH Director Adrienne Sturrup. "Since we’re seeing more cases, please take advantage of all the free masks, testing and vaccine resources that are available to prevent spreading illness during holiday weekend gatherings."

Free N95 respirators 

Ask your local pharmacy (H-E-B, CVS, Walgreens) or use a feature on the CDC’s website to find a location near you. 

Free COVID-19 tests 

APH encourages testing before and after gatherings, especially if you plan to be in close contact with individuals who are at risk. A third round of free mail-order COVID-19 test kits are available through the federal government. You can also pick up free at-home tests at APH's Metz Elementary testing site. 

APH testing and vaccination information 

Find vaccine providers using ( in Spanish) or by texting your zip code to 438829 (822862 in Spanish) to find a nearby clinic.       

APH clinics offer COVID-19 testing and vaccinations without an appointment, although creating an account online in advance saves time. COVID-19 vaccinations are free and require neither identification nor insurance. For more information and to schedule an appointment, call 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000 or visit       

The APH Mobile Vaccination Program brings vaccine clinics to businesses, churches and more. APH is asking all organizations to fill out an online form to request a pop-up clinic.