AUSTIN, Texas — Austin metropolis and Travis County public well being officers on Thursday raised their coronavirus risk-based pointers to Stage 3 for the primary time because the winter surge, urging unvaccinated individuals to keep away from nonessential journey and take different precautions after seeing a “dramatic enhance” in new Covid-19 circumstances and hospitalizations in current days.
ABC affiliate KVUE reported that officers are involved after confirming 4 circumstances of the harmful and extremely transmissible Delta variant of the virus, which has contributed to related spikes in more-populous areas throughout Texas lately.
“We can not faux that we’re completed with a virus that’s not completed with us,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler stated throughout a Thursday information convention, citing the “dramatic enhance in Covid circumstances we’ve seen in previous few days.”
He added, “I hate that we’re right here collectively once more at a press convention speaking in regards to the virus. I hoped I’d not be in entrance of you once more speaking a few rise in Covid circumstances.”
In accordance with Dr. Desmar Walkes, the Austin-Travis County Well being Authority, the seven-day common for brand spanking new circumstances has tripled from 30 to virtually 90. The seven-day transferring common for hospital admissions went from 7 to 20-21.
“This has to cease,” Walkes stated.
However the metropolis and county’s transfer to Stage 3 pointers has no weight of regulation behind it as a result of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned pandemic mandates in Might. It additionally solely applies to town’s unvaccinated inhabitants; the rules suggest that vaccinated individuals solely have to take precautions whereas touring.
The transfer marks the primary time a significant Texas metropolis has reinstated elevated well being protocols since dropping masks mandates, dialing again enterprise restrictions and permitting giant occasions to renew within the spring and summer season as Covid-19 circumstances and hospitalizations plummeted.
Earlier this week, well being officers in Williamson County, a suburban space north of Austin, reported that their new case charges and hospitalization charges — whereas nonetheless low — have doubled up to now week. The numbers prompted the county well being division to formally enhance the county’s Covid threat standing to “high community spread.”
Stage 3 pointers for Austin and Travis County imply unvaccinated or partially vaccinated residents ought to keep away from gatherings, journey, purchasing and eating out altogether except the actions are important, and masks up after they go away their houses.
The town-county pointers don’t at present have any suggestions for companies, which have been subjected to limits on capability and in-house service on and off all through the pandemic. They’re not below any mandates since Abbott lifted them statewide in March.
Adler advised the Texas Tribune in an interview that he hasn’t dominated out the potential for stronger strikes by town if these measures don’t cut back the numbers, even when they don’t have Abbott’s help.
“[Abbott has] indicated from the start that he could be following the science and the info, and that’s all that we’re making an attempt to do right here,” Adler stated. “We don’t relish and don’t wish to be at odds with the governor. That stated, we’re going to want to do no matter we will to greatest maintain our group as protected as potential.”
He didn’t specify what else is likely to be completed to stem the surge.
“If the numbers don’t enhance, there’s obtained to be some form of future motion, and there are many completely different kinds that might take,” he stated.
The town went to Stage 5, the very best degree of restrictions, in December — simply earlier than the deadliest surge of the pandemic to this point. By mid-March, town had dropped again to Stage 2 for the primary time throughout the pandemic.
Among the many different alarming tendencies cited by Austin and Travis County well being officers Thursday: The variety of circumstances of Covid-19 in kids are rising, and 20% of the greater than 100 individuals with Covid-19 in space hospitals are on ventilators, whereas 41 are within the intensive care unit. Austin has requested the state for staffing reinforcements to assist native hospitals and ICUs deal with the will increase in sufferers.
Virtually the entire hospitalized sufferers are unvaccinated, stated Dr. Walkes. Officers urged residents to get their shot in the event that they have not but, saying that vaccination is one of the best ways to cease unfold of the virus.
“This has to cease, and we all know easy methods to make that occur,” Walkes stated. “We hope that this self-correction that we’re doing with the change to the Stage 3 standing will assist deliver us again to a spot the place our circumstances are once more declining.”
At the very least 60% of Austin residents are absolutely vaccinated, and Travis County, the place Austin is positioned, has the third-highest vaccination price among the many state’s city counties, that are additionally starting to report rising circumstances and hospitalizations.