Can I still remove my mask? Health leaders reassess COVID-19 risk-based guidelines
AUSTIN (KXAN) – Even though Austin-Travis County has been within the threshold of Stage 3 guidelines for a week, health officials have yet to officially kick the area out of the more stringent guidelines based on the risks of stage 4 COVID-19.
So what gives?
In a media question-and-answer session on Friday, Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr Desmar Walkes said it was completely reassessing its risk-based guidelines. She said there would be “more to come as we finalize these,” but did not give a timeline for when the new guidelines would be released.
Asked about the likelihood of the area officially moving to Stage 3 guidelines early next week, Walkes replied that it was likely, but added that it depended on people’s behavior.
“If the trend continues, it is very likely that it will happen,” she said.
The Step 3 guidelines, as presented right now, would allow vaccinated people to ditch the mask in certain situations like shopping or outdoor gatherings.
Below is an overview of the table based on COVID-19 risk as presented by APH now, based on vaccination status.
It comes as hospitalizations and the number of people in local intensive care units continue to decline. According to the Austin-Travis County Scoreboard, the 7-day moving average of new hospital admissions has fallen to 24. This is largely the metric that health executives use to guide stages. of risk at this time.
It also shows that 302 people are currently in hospitals in the region with COVID-19 and that 135 people are in intensive care. This is a significant drop from just a few weeks ago.
“We got over that bump,” said Janet Pichette, chief epidemiologist at Austin Public Health, of the number of recent cases.
Health executives also spoke on Friday of their concerns as the winter months approach, when other illnesses like the flu are prevalent and people tend to congregate for the holidays.
Walkes said they are making a plan for what she says is called “the flu.”
“We are at a place of reassessing what is going to be our new reality,” Walkes said.