Thursday, June 9, 2022

Travis County’s COVID-19 Community Level Elevated to Medium

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) upgraded Travis County’s COVID-19 Community Level from low to medium Thursday June 9, 2022. New case totals reached the threshold necessary to trigger additional preventive measures. Upgraded Risk-Based Guidelines include masking in many circumstances. 

"We’re seeing steady increases in case totals and hospitalizations which is incredibly concerning,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority. “We need everyone to do their part, especially those who are at higher risk. Wear a mask inside when gathering with others. We know that this will help protect loved ones at risk for poor outcomes and our hospital system.” 

Austin Public Health (APH) continues to monitor rising COVID-19 case totals, including the new omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 now present in our area. A key determining metric for Community Levels, new cases per 100k population in the last 7 days, sits at 202.99. Travis County’s Community Level shifted from low to medium when that metric hit 200, per CDC guidelines.  

APH is also conducting wastewater surveillance to monitor the presence of SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19, circulating in the community. Data for Travis County can be found online

“We all have mask fatigue, but wearing a mask is what’s necessary to keep COVID-19 in check,” said Austin Public Health Director Adrienne Sturrup. “Testing and getting vaccinated and boosted are also critical. Take a test and stay home even if you only feel slightly sick. Get up to date on your vaccines at your doctor's office or at one of our clinics.” 

Risk-Based Guidelines 

Recommendations for people who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines:  

  • Low: Masking optional when gathering, dining and shopping.   

  • Medium: Masking optional when gathering, dining and shopping. Mask when social distancing is not possible.   

  • High: Indoor masking regardless of vaccination/risk status when gathering, dining and shopping. 

Recommendations for people who are at risk:

  • Get up to date with your vaccines as soon as possible. 

  • Low: Masking optional when gathering, dining and shopping.   

  • Medium: Indoor masking when gathering, dining and shopping.   

  • High: Indoor masking regardless of vaccination/risk status when gathering, dining and shopping.

At all risk levels, APH supports wearing a well-fitting mask and practicing social distancing as additional layers of protection to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially as we see case reports and hospital admissions increase in the community. Even at low levels, people can wear a mask based on personal preference, informed by their level of risk. People experiencing symptoms or those who’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.

Risk-Based Guidelines Chart

About Community Levels 

APH updated its risk-based guidelines to align with CDC Community Level metrics in March. Community Levels are determined by a combination of factors, including new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population in the past seven days, the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past seven days.

The CDC shifted to Community Levels as much of the country achieved high levels of vaccination. The Community Levels model aims to protect those at the highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and reduce strain on healthcare systems.

CDC COVID-19 Community Levels

Free N95 respirators 

Wearing a well-fitting mask offers protection for yourself and those around you. Free N95 respirators are available at some local pharmacies. 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 rapid antigen tests at APH's Metz Elementary testing site (84 Robert T. Martinez Jr. St., Austin, TX 78702). 

Testing and Vaccination Information 

Find vaccine providers using Vaccines.gov (Vacunas.gov 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 www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.  

A list of Travis County vaccine distribution events can be found online

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. 

 

Austin Public Health Logo PNG

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