The state restrictions could be lifted in Austin on Saturday
Austin is still in the fifth phase. However, according to health officials, hospitalization rates will soon be less than 15 percent of total capacity.
Austin, Texas – – Hospital admissions for COVID-19 in the Austin area have decreased, which means Travis County businesses may have the opportunity to increase occupancy starting this weekend.
Austin remains in the fifth level risk category for the time being. However, according to figures from Austin Public Health officials, hospital stay rates will be less than 15 percent of total capacity through Saturday.
“This is great for our community, but we still need that vigilance to protect ourselves and to continue to mask and distance ourselves,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Austin Interim Health Authority.
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Once hospital admissions reach this point, store occupancy can rise to 75 percent and elective surgeries can resume.
“We were the last metropolitan area to cross that 15 percent mark that triggered GA 32 and GA 31, and we will likely be the first to leave them on Saturday,” said Escott.
“It’s great to see Austin slowly turn the corner. Any additional capacity for a restaurant is an improvement,” said Emily Williams Knight, president and CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association.
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The difference between 50 and 75 percent occupancy might not look all that different to customers, but restaurant owners said it’s the boost many of them need to stay afloat.
“I mean, we’ve been on this trip for 10 months now, and even with 50 percent capacity, most restaurants are 30-40 percent busy due to social distancing. So this is really going to add some extra tables and hopefully some consumer confidence as well.” to get them back to eat, “Knight said.
Even as hospital capacity increases, 49 people are currently being cared for at the city’s alternative care facility at the Austin Convention Center. These patients were all transferred from hospitals in the Austin five-county metropolitan area.
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In the meantime, the city and county are making further progress in vaccinating 1A and 1B priority groups. So far, around 30,000 people have had a chance. “Between the 1A group and the 1B group qualifying for vaccination today, there are approximately 550,000 people in this group, almost half of our population. It will take months to reach this group,” said Escott.
Austin public health officials are still prioritizing people 65 and older and urging the community to do the same.
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As supply is still limited, it is not known when the state plan will be postponed by people in classifications 1a-1b.
“If you are not 65 years of age and older you will consider giving up your place in line or not registering for an appointment, but allowing people 65 and over to have that seat,” said Dr. Stephanie Hayden, director of Austin Public Health.
APH officials said they are opening a third vaccination site in north Travis County. At this point, as with the other two, all patients must make appointments.
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