Austin Public Health on Tuesday announced a shift to Stage 4 of the agency’s risk-based guidelines as hospitalizations linked to COVID-19 continue to drastically decline since the summer surge.
Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County health authority, announced the positive change during a joint Austin City Council and Travis County Commissioners Court meeting on Tuesday, praising efforts in the community to help bring infection rates down.
Under Stage 4, Austin area residents who are fully vaccinated, but still at high risk of severe disease, can now travel, gather outdoors, shop and dine safely if wearing a mask, according to the guidelines. Unvaccinated people can now travel and shop safely if masked, but only when essential, the recommendations say.
The guidelines range from Stage 1 to Stage 5, with five being the highest threat level for community spread of the coronavirus. Stage 4 is triggered when the rolling seven-day average of new daily hospital admissions stays between 30 and 50.
Only 20 new daily admissions to the hospital were reported Monday afternoon, lowering the rolling seven-day average to 34, which was not only below Friday’s average of 44 but also the lowest since July 23, when the average was also 34.
Austin Public Health has remained in Stage 5 of the agency’s risk-based guidelines since early August after the area experienced record-breaking pandemic hospitalizations.
Health officials on Monday reported a total of 390 people in Austin-area hospitals because of COVID-19, an improvement from the 441 needing inpatient care Friday — and the pandemic record high of 653 patients set Aug. 25.
As many as 162 people were in Austin-area ICUs for COVID-19. That number hit a pandemic record high of 237 on Aug. 22. The 108 patients on ventilators also remained a positive change over the pandemic record high of 174 set four weeks ago on Aug. 29.
This is a developing story; check back for updates.