To update: As expected, the city guides extended Austin’s residence permit until August 15 – the longest extension for a contract of this kind during the COVID-19 crisis. During the afternoon press conference, officials stressed the importance of wearing a face mask, avoiding situations where other people are not wearing a mask, and social distancing. Mayor Adler also urged businesses, including restaurants, to reduce their capacity, despite the governor’s current orders to do so.
After a dramatic increase in coronavirus-related hospital stays over the past seven days, Austin is now in Phase 4 of the COVID-19 Risk Map, a major milestone in the fight against the virus.
On Monday, June 15, 30 new COVID-19 patients were admitted to hospitals in the area, according to the city of Austin, bringing the 7-day average to 20.6 per day. This time last week Austin had an average of 13 new hospital admissions per day and was on level 3 of the risk map. Austin has been in the third tier since mid-May when the chart was first introduced.
The new hospital admissions are likely the result of the city and Texas reopening plan that no longer mandates the wearing of face masks. Scientific studies continue to show that while American politics makes masks a partisan problem, masks are crucial in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Level 4 recommendations include wearing face masks. practice social distancing; Avoiding travel and social gatherings; and to advise that individuals can return to work safely and only eat and shop at extended, essential businesses (which are many businesses in Texas). If the number of hospitalizations in Austin continues to increase, it will revert to Level 5 and possible home / work safety measures can be reinstated.
On Thursday June 11, Austin Public Health medical director Mark Escott held a virtual press conference with Mayor Steve Adler and Judge Sarah Eckhardt to warn the city would see an increase in COVID-19 cases. During the meeting, Adler warned Austin would get a “flashing yellow light,” which the mayor repeated in a June 14 letter just three days later.
“At this point, our flashing amber warning light will turn orange, which means our hospitals are heading for an overwhelming increase in admissions,” he wrote. “We have to make some decisions and compromises as we approach the red zone. Make no mistake, we will see more hospitalizations and deaths.”
Adler then hired the help of Texas Governor Greg Abbott in enforcing masks and social distancing.
The mayor also urged Austin residents to address any health issues as soon as possible – a possible indicator of the future. “If you’ve been thinking of seeing a doctor, having a procedure or otherwise going to the hospital, now would be a great time,” he wrote, noting that despite the increase in hospital stays, capacity is still available .
Austin’s current stay at home order expires June 15, and the city will hold a press conference today at 2:30 p.m. to discuss changes. Last week, Adler said orders for staying at home and wearing masks in the area would likely be extended.
To date, Austin has 4,545 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 104 deaths. According to the Austin city dashboard, 129 people are currently being hospitalized for the novel coronavirus. Of these 129 patients, 52 were in intensive care and 29 were on ventilators.