AUSTIN, Texas — Austin health leaders are urging residents who participated in recent crowded gatherings or Halloween parties to stay home and get tested after seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases.
On Nov. 4, Austin Public Health reported 1,034 active coronavirus cases in Austin and Travis County. That is the highest report of active cases since Aug. 15.
"It is a gradual but significant increase in the number of cases, and more than half of those who tested positive through APH test sites have been adults between 20 and 39 years old," Austin Public Health said.
On Halloween night Saturday, Oct. 31, photos were taken that show thousands of people on Sixth Street in Downtown Austin. While some wore masks, as depicted in these viewer photos, you can see few were practicing social distancing.
PHOTOS: Large crowds spotted on Sixth Street on Halloween
"These numbers indicate that those who recently participated in a gathering have had a higher risk of encountering someone infected with the virus," APH said in a statement. "We encourage everyone who was involved in gatherings outside of their household this weekend [ex. Halloween parties] to get tested for COVID-19 this week."
Health leaders said getting tested and maintaining social distancing is important ahead of the holidays.
"APH cannot prevent a spike in cases ahead of the winter holidays without the support and cooperation of our entire community," APH said. "An increase in case numbers will lead to needless hospitalizations and deaths."
On Thursday, Dell Medical School held a panel with local physicians to discuss long-term effects of COVID-19.
"The longer that the pandemic drags on, it becomes more obvious that COVID-19 is the unwelcomed house guest that won't pack up and leave," said Dr. Esther Melamed, UT Austin Health.
KVUE spoke with University of Texas students on Sixth Street who explained it's been hard to try to balance a social life while also remaining safe during this time.
"I think a lot of people think that what they do only affects them but it doesn't," said Kami Johnston, a pharmaceutical student.
Another student shared some of the awkward moments young people are feeling right now, feeling pressure by friends.
"I was hanging out with a friend on Halloween and we pulled into Sixth and I called someone to come get me and told them I didn't want to be there," said Shankari Sureshbabu, student at UT.
APH offers free COVID-19 testing. You can sign up online here or by calling 512-972-5560.
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