Austin Public Health over a year of COVID in Austin, Travis County
If we look back on a year, a lot has changed. We have lost interaction with loved ones, friends, and family. However, many have gained insight.
Austin, Texas – – If we look back on a year, a lot has changed.
“I made a statement at the time that this would be disruptive,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County’s Interim Health Authority. “I had no idea how long the disruption was going to last, and I don’t think either of us had that concept. We’d never seen anything like it before.”
Over the course of 2020, we lost interaction with loved ones, friends, and family.
“There were so many people who waited a full year,” said Stephanie Hayden, director of Austin Public Health.
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However, many have gained insight. At the beginning of the pandemic, officials didn’t know much about the virus. You had to make tough decisions – the very first one: canceling SXSW.
Dr. Escott said the decision was not an easy one. He consulted with the CDC and heads of state and eventually made the decision to cancel one of the most popular events in Austin.
Many more events would follow during the year. Restrictions would be introduced and a “new normal” would be described. Escott said the behavior of APH and city officials led to what Austin fared during the pandemic.
“To speed up the tests, to lock, if we had to lock, to mask, while we had to mask, I think Austin is doing better than any other jurisdiction in Texas and most of the others in the US because of that we stand ready to come together as a community and address these difficult problems, “said Escott.
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As we learned to adapt and overcome hurdles before us, many worked behind the scenes to keep our community safe.
Not much was known about the virus a year ago, now there are three different vaccines.
“Just to know a year ago today that we didn’t even have a vaccine that was available, and when I know that thousands of people are going to get through here on their own, that vaccine will be given, I’m over the moon,” said Hayden.
On Saturday, more than 2,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine went into the arms of those entitled.
The county also switched to Level 3 of the COVID-19 risk-based policy chart.
“I am pleased that at this stage we can safely move into the third stage, which opens companies up to 75 percent by recommendation and allows low-risk people and low-risk households to travel too,” said Escott.
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This is the first time the county has been in this phase since November.
And Escott adds that the risk will decrease further as more community members are vaccinated.
“If we win a percentage of the people vaccinated, there is a gradient effect. The risk will continue to decrease,” he said.
However, as progress is made and efforts increase, officials say it is still not the time to abandon your guard.
“Be vigilant and alert and make sure the social distancing is still happening as these things are proven and we want people to keep doing it,” said Hayden.