FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Local health officials ask to stay the course with current guidelines through spring
AUSTIN, Texas – During today’s Austin City Council and Travis County Commissioners Court joint session, Austin Public Health (APH) leadership announced a return to Stage 3 of the area’s COVID-19 Risk-Based Guidelines.
This move comes as APH works to align its guidance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC announced updates Friday, Feb. 25, with a caveat for communities dealing with unique circumstances. Thousands of people will travel to and through Austin-Travis County in the coming weeks for the Spring Festival Season and spring break. With these unique circumstances in mind, APH recommends that our communities wear masks indoors, especially when social distancing is not possible, until March 20, 2022.
“We’re returning to Stage 3, and if trends hold steady, Stage 2 is just around the corner. This is possible thanks to our community getting vaccinated and wearing masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority. “Let’s continue to make Austin as safe as possible with all the visitors anticipated in the next few weeks.”
The hospitality industry, which plays an important role in our community, has been hit hard by the pandemic. Many employees in the industry work to provide for multigenerational households which may include people who have an increased risk of experiencing severe symptoms from COVID-19.
“We must continue to consider those who are at-risk, including anyone with chronic conditions and children who are too young to get vaccinated,” said Austin Public Health Director Adrienne Sturrup. “Please consider our neighbors, church members, waitstaff, teachers and loved ones.”
APH continues to track key indicators and monitor infections in schools and areas with lower vaccination rates while considering next steps. Leadership is also working to ensure the updated guidelines match existing policy.
Stage 3 Guidance
Individuals who are up to date (fully vaccinated with a booster): Masks are recommended for everyone during indoor gatherings and travel. Those who are at high-risk are recommended to wear masks while dining and shopping.
Partially or unvaccinated individuals and those who need a booster dose: Take precautions and wear masks for all activities in Stages 1 through 5.
APH testing and vaccination information
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.
The APH Mobile Vaccination Program brings vaccine clinics to businesses, churches and more. Organizations can fill out an online form to request a pop-up clinic at their location.