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Austin-Travis County moves back to Stage 3 of COVID-19 guidelines

Dr. Escott said key indicators are trending in the right direction but now is not a time to let our guard down.

AUSTIN, Texas — The City of Austin and Travis County have announced they are both moving back to Stage 3 from Stage 4 of the Austin Public Health's COVID-19 risk-based guidelines.

Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said this is a good sign.

“We are moving to Stage 3 because our key indicators are trending in the right direction,” Dr. Escott said. “As much as possible, though, we would like individuals to continue to act as if we are still in Stage 4 so that we can be in a better place as school starts.”

What does Stage 3 mean?

In this stage, higher-risk individuals – those who are over the age of 65 and those who have chronic medical conditions – are recommended to avoid non-essential travel, dining and shopping. In addition, everyone should avoid gatherings with more than 10 people.

Credit: City of Austin
Each stage is in response to the risk of spread of COVID-19. Austin-Travis County will reach Stage 5 once the 7-day average of new coronavirus hospitalizations hits 70.

Although this is a step in the right direction, health leaders said the community needs to continue to be vigilant and practice good hygiene. The community should also continue social distancing and wearing face masks.

“Our key indicators are all showing that we as a community are reducing our COVID-19 numbers, but we need to remain focused on improving the health outcomes for communities of color, who continue to be disproportionately impacted by the virus,” said Stephanie Hayden, APH director.

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APH monitors the seven-day moving average of COVID-19 hospital admissions as the primary key indicator for its risk-based guidelines. Additional key indicators include the doubling time of new cases and current ICU and ventilator patients.

The positivity rate is another key indicator that APH is using to determine what stage Austin and Travis County will be in. This is the number of positive cases divided by the number of overall tests being performed. 

“Our goal is to have a positivity rate below 5% by Sept. 8, when most Austin-Travis County students start their school year,” said Dr. Escott. “In addition to an overall positivity rate below 5%, every individual race and ethnic group in Austin should have a positivity rate below 5%.”

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