AUSTIN, Texas — On Friday, orders in Austin and Travis County were extended until Dec. 15 as Austin's coronavirus cases plateau.
In an announcement on Friday, Austin and Travis County leaders adopted revised orders to slow the spread of the virus. In addition to the orders, leaders are asking citizens to continue to practice good hygiene, to practice social distancing and to wear face coverings.
Mayor Steve Adler said the City extended the "Stay Home, Work Safe" order to Dec 15. The current order was set to expire on Aug. 15.
Earlier on Friday, Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe also extended Travis County's mask mandate and disaster declaration.
The order extension continues the provisions from the previous order, which include wearing fabric face coverings when in public, socially distancing 6 feet away from others and practicing excellent hygiene by washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds, cleaning high-touch surfaces and sneezing and coughing into your elbow.
It also extends development application deadlines to March 15, 2021, and changes nursing home standards to comply with new state guidelines allowing for some visitation, the City said.
As schools reopen campuses, the Austin order stipulates each school must follow a phased-in approach based on risk-based stages, unless that were to result in a loss of funding from the Texas Education Agency. Those stages include 100% virtual learning at Stage 5, up to 25% on-campus learning at Stage 4, up to 50% on-campus learning at Stage 3, up to 75% on-campus learning at Stage 2 and up to 100% on-campus learning at Stage 1.
While hospital ICU capacity has left the surge stage, Austin remains in Stage 4 of its COVID-19 response, according to Austin Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott.
Earlier this month, Escott told the Travis County Commissioners Austin Public Health (APH) was keeping the City in Stage 4 because there has been a small increase in the number of positive cases, and the number of new hospitalizations has held steady instead of continuing to decrease.
"We are still concerned about the fact that we are plateauing right now," Escott said on Aug. 4. "And in terms of new cases, we're seeing a small increase in the number of positive cases."
Escott said APH is trying to avoid having people relax too early and spark another surge.
The City is asking that people do not attend social gatherings with more than 10 people.
“We are not out of the woods,” said Adler on Friday. “COVID-19 infectivity is still too high – especially in the Hispanic community. We need to work together to get infectivity down across our entire city. If we want to stay safe and reopen, we must keep social distancing, washing our hands and wearing our masks.”
A provision in the order asks those over 65 to not gather in groups more than a couple of people. The order encourages businesses able to reopen under the governor's executive orders to operate at minimal indoor capacity and to maximize social distancing as much as possible.
On Aug. 14, Travis County reported four more deaths from COVID-19, as well as 152 new cases, bringing the total to 23,870 known cases and 332 deaths. At least 22,481 people have recovered from the virus.
As of Aug. 14, Travis County had 236 people hospitalized from COVID-19, with 89 in the ICU and 60 on ventilators.
Stage 4 recommends that Austinites do the following in order to stop the spread of the virus:
- Practice good hygiene, stay home if you're sick, and avoid other people who are sick
- Maintain social distancing and wear fabric face coverings in public
- Avoid non-essential travel, all social gatherings, and any gatherings of more than two people
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