COVID-19 numbers in Austin-Travis County are up 86% since start of Dec

Austin-Travis County’s COVID-19 numbers are up 86% since early December

Austin Public Health officials warned that a surge in Austin could likely be devastating if the numbers stay as they are.

Austin Public Health officials say COVID-19 will be the third leading cause of death in Travis County by the end of the year.

While administering vaccines, officials say stopping or slowing the bumps or spikes emanating from holiday gatherings is not enough. “It will take some time to get enough vaccines to cover enough of our community to achieve this herd immunity,” said Cassandra DeLeon, interim APH Assistant Director.

Austin Public Health officials warned that a surge in Austin could likely be devastating if the numbers stay as they are. “We don’t want to be in that situation of who is cared for and who isn’t, but that’s the reality of an overwhelming increase,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Austin Travis County Interim Health Authority.

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Escott said Dallas, Houston and San Antonio are all on the rise as well. He added if or when resources need to be provisioned, we probably won’t be the first to receive them. “We’re fourth,” he said. “And I worry that the resources may not be available in time when we need them.”

Distribution of vaccines has begun, but only to those in the Phase 1A category, Escott said. This includes the direct health care providers and those at the highest risk.

“We still have to get through our health workers, then we have to come through our caregivers and residents,” Escott said.

He said it will be some time before everyone gets vaccinated if they want. But said they have a group that works to make sure the members of the community know when their time is going to be.

If the county is supposed to see an increase in certain cases, it will likely be in the first or second week of January. “We can expect the impact on the cases by January 7th or 8th, then the impact on hospital stays and intensive care the following week, and then two or three weeks later on the deaths,” Escott said.

Janet Pichette, APH’s chief epidemiologist, says they don’t want to see a repeat of what happened after the Thanksgiving holidays. “We just want to make sure everyone has a nice and safe vacation, so once again our prevention efforts are vital,” she said.

Pichette said it is important that members of the community continue to exercise personal responsibility during this time. That said, keep wearing your mask, social distancing, and if someone else isn’t wearing their mask or following the guidelines, make sure it’s you.

Stephanie Hayden, director of APH, added that when someone is shopping or running errands, it’s best to designate a person and keep that person the same.

Officials also said if you plan to travel the best method is by car. However, if you do fly, try double masking for extra protection. And when you come back, quarantine for seven days and then get tested.

For information on testing, see the Austin Public Health testing website.

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