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Travis County’s COVID risk level raised to medium following increase in cases and hospitalizations

A medical provider administers a COVID-19 test at Austin ISD headquarters during spring break 2021.
Gabriel C. Pérez
A medical provider administers a COVID-19 test at Austin ISD headquarters during spring break 2021.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is changing Travis County’s COVID-19 community risk level from low to medium.

Local health authorities are monitoring a rise in new coronavirus infections, including cases detected as the new omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. COVID-19 hospitalizations are also showing an upward trend. Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County's health authority, called the increase in infections and hospitalizations “incredibly concerning.”

A key factor for increasing community risk level is the number of new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days. CDC guidelines say when that number hits 200, the area increases from a low risk to a medium risk. Travis County is currently at 202.99.

At the medium stage, indoor masking is recommended for at-risk individuals when gathering, dining and shopping. For those up to date on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, masks are optional but recommended when physical distancing isn’t possible.

“We all have mask fatigue, but wearing a mask is what’s necessary to keep COVID-19 in check,” Austin Public Health Director Adrienne Sturrup said in a statement. She also emphasized the importance of regular testing and staying up to date on vaccines and boosters.

Hays County has also been elevated to the medium level, while Williamson County remains in the low category.

Austin Public Health, Travis County and community partners continue operating free COVID-19 vaccine clinics. No appointment, insurance or proof of residency is required, and a full schedule of clinics can be found on the county’s website. If you're looking for a vaccine outside of Travis County, visit

Lauren Terrazas is the Morning Edition newscast host at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @_laterrazas.
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