Austin elevated to Stage 5 restrictions

Austin raised to level 5 – what does that mean?

Officials stressed that people should approach the holidays with a new and open attitude to how their time is used, but should still follow guidelines.

As hospital stays and COVID-19 cases continue to increase, Austin-Travis County has now entered Phase 5 for its COVID-19 risk assessment.

“There is so much fellowship at this stage that we must consider ourselves at risk anywhere outside of our household,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Public Health Authority.

Escott said there was no hesitation or reservation about relocating the county during the holiday season. That the reason was in the data. He said the numbers are cause for concern. “If you wait for the alarm to go full, the surge will continue until the hospitals and morgues are overwhelmed,” he said.

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Officials raise Austin to level 5 COVID-19 risk level

Austin-Travis County officials have announced that we are now in Phase 5 of the COVID-19 risk assessment. FOX 7 Austin’s Kacey Bowen has more on what this means and what officials were saying.

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Escott added that there is no evidence that we are flattening.

“The positivity rate is increasing,” said Escott. “Which predicts we’ll have more cases this week than last week, more hospitalizations this week than last week. And today I’m expecting 70 admissions, maybe closer to 80, so I’m expecting a rapid increase.”

With the new step come new recommendations. Officials urge everyone not to meet with anyone outside your home, even if you are not at high risk. “We had 525 deaths,” said APH director Stephanie Hayden. “Please think of your loved ones.”

RELATED: Officials Discuss Next Steps As Austin Is Elevated To Level 5 Restrictions

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For those who are traveling, they also recommend getting tested around 3 to 5 days after their return.

Other recommendations include limiting travel to only essential trips such as going to the grocery store and restaurants that only work on the curb or roadside, and quitting all dine-in and retail stores between 10:30 pm and 5:00 am.

“We are entering a dangerous time, Phase 5, and if our community does its part and follows the recommendations made today, we can stop the spread of COVID-19 and not take more restrictive measures,” said Andy, a Travis County judge Brown.

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Many of these recommendations were made by the city in March. While this closure made the city look empty and unfamiliar to Austinites, such a sight most likely won’t happen again.

Governor Greg Abbott earlier announced that he would not close the Texas store. Mayor Steve Adler has now said it is up to the community to work to bring those numbers down. “Ultimately, we cannot enforce our path to compliance,” said Adler. “This is something that the community must do through its collective action.”

RELATED: Many Still Travel, Though Health officials advise against it

However, some enforcement can be made for those who do not follow the recommendations.

“Unless we are successful in slowing the surge, we must consider all options to protect our community. This could include taking action rather than pushing it,” Brown said.

Officials stressed that people should approach the holidays with a new and open attitude to how their time is used, but should still follow guidelines.

Many still travel, although health officials advise against it

Health officials advise against traveling on vacation to see loved ones, but FOX 7 Austin’s John Krinjak notes that many will still take to the streets or fly.

“We’re trying to get ourselves on a path to smooth the corner,” said Hayden. “It will be important for us to think about what is important.”

Officials say, even after Christmas, don’t let your guard down; New Years Eve is just around the corner.

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“That can speed it up even faster than what we saw during Thanksgiving, and that puts us in a very dangerous position very quickly after the New Year,” said Escott.

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