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As COVID-19 admissions decline, Austin could be in Stage 2 territory 'by end of March or early April,' UT model suggests

The health authority said the City would remain in Stage 4 recommendations for now and added that APH would continue to monitor the data for the rest of the week.

AUSTIN, Texas — Some positive news came out of the Austin City Council and Travis County Commissioners COVID-19 joint meeting Tuesday: coronavirus metrics are generally declining, and UT models suggest Austin could enter Stage 2 territory "by end of March or early April," according to Austin Public Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott. 

Escott said the City's hospital admissions had fallen to a moving average of 29, entering Stage 3 territory. This does not mean Austin is in Stage 3, though.

Austin's top health authority said the City would remain in Stage 4 recommendations for now and added that APH would continue to monitor the data for the rest of the week before potentially making a determination to move to Stage 3.

When discussing the latest findings from UT's COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, Escott said the data suggests Austin could be in Stage 2 "by end of March or early April." These projections are not finite, though, but rather just calculations of where the area could be if transmission remains as it currently is. Escott said the community cannot relax in taking precautions because that's when numbers spike again. 

"If the same protections that are in place today continue, we could see Stage 2 territory by end of March or early April," Escott said. "Again, what we have seen before in our jurisdiction of Texas is that when folks relax too soon, these numbers bounce. While we are focused on vaccinations, now is too soon to return to normal."

Escott listed spring break, St. Patrick's Day and Easter all as potential threats for coronavirus surges.

LISTEN: Austin, Texas, COVID-19 update: City, county leaders hold joint meeting, March 2

Here is a difference between the coronavirus stages in Austin: 

Stage 4 

High-risk people are recommended to avoid gatherings of more than two people and avoid non-essential travel, dining and shopping. Low-risk people are recommended to keep social gatherings to groups of less than 10 and also avoid non-essential travel. 

Businesses are encouraged to operate at 25% to 50% capacity.

Credit: KVUE

Stage 3

In this stage, higher-risk individuals – those who are over the age of 65 and those who have chronic medical conditions – are recommended to avoid non-essential travel, dining and shopping. In addition, everyone should avoid gatherings with more than 10 people.

Credit: KVUE
A breakdown of what Stage 3 COVID-19 guidelines mean in Austin.

Stage 2

In Stage 2, higher-risk individuals – those who are over the age of 65 and those who have chronic medical conditions –  are recommended to avoid gatherings greater than 10 people. Lower-risk individuals – those with no substantial underlying health conditions – are recommended to avoid gatherings greater than 25 people. 

Credit: City of Austin
Each stage is in response to the risk of spread of COVID-19. Austin-Travis County will reach Stage 5 once the 7-day average of new coronavirus hospitalizations hits 70.

The updates from city leaders come as they continue efforts to try and ramp up coronavirus vaccinations in the area. On Monday, Travis County Judge Andy Brown told KVUE “the stars are aligning” to have more mass vaccination events after a successful test run over the weekend at COTA.

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