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COVID-19

Austin drops down to Stage 3 COVID risk guidance

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Michael Minasi
/
KUT
Austin Public Health has loosened its risk-based guidelines following a drop in infections and hospitalizations.

Austin-Travis County has moved to Stage 3, the middle level, of Austin Public Health's COVID-19 risk-based guidelines.

The numbers of new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations continue to fall as the worst of the omicron surge subsides in the area.

The move follows revised masking guidance issued Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The area had moved down from the highest level just last Thursday.

The CDC guidance classifies Travis County as a low-impact county, meaning universal masking is not advised. Despite this, APH recommends at Stage 3 that people still wear masks at indoor gatherings with people from outside their homes.

As she made the announcement during a Travis County commissioners meeting Tuesday, APH Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes acknowledged that Austin welcomes hundreds of events and international festivals each year, including one that begins next week.

For that reason, she said APH is "recommending masking until the end of the spring festival season — through March 20," the final day of SXSW.

Walkes said APH is asking that people mask up in an effort to protect Austin's hospitality workers, a group who've been hit particularly hard by the effects of the pandemic.

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