Austin Public Health introduces new risk-based guidelines to align with CDC recommendations

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AUSTIN, TX- Austin Public Health (APH) has updated its risk-based guidelines to align with new measures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC has introduced new Community levels to track the spread of COVID-19 at the county level in February. APH is integrating this new model into our local councils.

“We continue to adapt our response as we enter a new phase of this pandemic,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority. “While we appreciate the progress we’ve made, we must remember that it’s not over yet; the potential for new variants always poses a threat.

There are three community levels (low, medium and high) with corresponding guidance for those who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines and for those who are at risk. These levels replace the steps that have guided our response for much of the pandemic. The risk level for Austin-Travis County is currently low.

“We’re excited to roll out an updated tool that provides our community with the guidance needed to stay safe and healthy,” said Adrienne Sturrup, Austin’s director of public health. “We thank everyone for stepping in and taking precautions when asked. We are optimistic about this new phase and are confident that our community is better equipped to respond if and when the need arises. feel.

Recommendations for people up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Low: Masking optional at gatherings, meals and shopping.
  • Medium: Masking optional at gatherings, meals and shopping. Hide when social distancing is not possible.
  • High: Indoor masking regardless of vaccination/risk status at gatherings, meals and shopping.

Recommendations for people at risk:

  • Low: Masking optional at gatherings, meals and shopping.
  • Medium: Interior masking at gatherings, meals and shopping.
  • High: Indoor masking regardless of vaccination/risk status at gatherings, meals and shopping.

At all levels wearing a properly fitted mask and practicing social distancing are supported by APH as additional layers of protection to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Even at low levels, people can wear a mask based on personal preference, depending on their personal risk level. People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.

Community levels are determined by a combination of indicators, including new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population in the last seven days, the percentage of inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and the total number of new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population in the last seven days.

CDC Community Level Thresholds

These changes will be reflected on the APH Key Indicators Dashboard which will populate with CDC data weekly. The dashboard will be updated on Tuesday afternoon.

The CDC has moved to the community level as much of the country has reached high levels of vaccination and immunity. The community levels model aims to protect those most at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and reduce the strain on health systems.

The City of Austin and Travis County lifted all COVID-19 orders last week, which included mask requirements at most city and county facilities.

Information on the APH test and vaccination

People can find vaccine suppliers using Vaccines.gov (Vacunas.gov in Spanish) or by texting their postal code to 438829 (822862 in Spanish) to find a nearby clinic.

APH clinics offer walk-in COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, though creating an online account in advance saves time. COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require ID or insurance. For more information and to make an appointment, call 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000 or visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.

The APH Mobile Vaccination Program brings vaccination clinics to businesses, churches and more. Organizations can complete a online form to request a pop-up clinic at their location.

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