Austin, Texas – Today, December 23, since the beginning of the pandemic, Austin Public Health (APH) has officially raised the level of community risk COVID-19 to Stage 5, the highest level.
This change was made today on the basis of a rapid increase in hospital admissions, cases, and test positivity rates throughout the community. Other key indicators for stage changes, including the number of patients in intensive care, the use of the ventilator and the 7-day moving average of cases, are on an upward trend.
“This is a critical time for the community,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority. “We need to reduce the spread of the virus in the community now. We cannot allow another increase in cases and hospitalizations after the next holidays. Our hospitals will become overwhelmed and people will die unnecessarily. ”
Step five recommendations include:
- No meetings with anyone outside your household
- Meals and shopping should be limited to essential excursions
- Avoid non-essential trips
- Companies are advised to operate through contactless options (ie border, delivery)
Risk-based guidelines are not changes to local orders, rules or regulations for companies; are guidelines for individual actions and behaviors. However, changes to orders or additional restrictions may be needed in the coming days to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.
“The public needs to do everything they can to reduce contact with people outside their homes,” said APH Director Stephanie Hayden. “We’ve done an incredible job of keeping this virus under control in our community, and we need everyone to step up and do it again.”
Director Hayden added: “We have flattened the curve forward. The difference now is that we see a piece of the finish line with a vaccine in the community. Any serious illness or death at this time would be a tragedy. ”
Austin-Travis County leaders remind the public to continue to be vigilant and practice good hygiene, physical and social distance, and to wear masks to prevent the spread of the disease and stay safe. Avoiding gatherings outside your household is especially important this holiday season. COVID-19 Holiday Safety Recommendations can be found at AustinTexas.gov/HolidaySafety.
Based on the altitude at stage 5, some services of the city will be modified.
Austin’s regular resource recovery services will not change. However, the Recycling and Reuse Center will be closed to the public from 24 December. Residents can request a non-contact collection of hazardous household waste at home at austintexas.gov/dropoff Items for reuse or recycling cannot be picked up at this time.
In addition, the Austin Animal Center will be open to the public beginning December 24. After December 25, adoptions will be made in practice, and nurses, adopters and rescuers will take over. The facility will not be taken over by the non-emergency owner, and stray animal hunters will have to apply for admission by calling Austin 311.
Changes to Austin Parks and Recreation services and facility openings will be posted on their website at austintexas.gov/parkclosures.
Information on holiday closures in Austin can be viewed here.
For more information and COVID-19 updates, visit AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.