Austin Public Health officials at the Feb. 18 bimonthly COVID-19 briefing pushed for continued public safety measures, even as they said data shows positive progress on vaccine levels and case numbers.

Austin Public Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said COVID-19 cases are trending down, indicating that the city is reaching the end of the omicron variant surge. At the same time, she said the overall number of vaccinated individuals is high.

“The pandemic is still a pandemic ... but it does look like we are approaching a time when we can say we are approaching herd immunity,” Walkes said.

However, the city will not move into Stage 4 safety measures—from the more restrictive Stage 5—she said.

Even though hospitalizations are trending down, Chief Epidemiologist Janet Pichette said APH evaluates the situation based on multiple factors.

APH Director Adrienne Stirrup encourages Austin residents to continue masking, stay home when sick and get tested as needed.

“We are all tired of masks, but we can’t simply make it go away because we are tired,” Stirrup said.

The officials also encouraged residents to be up to date on their COVID-19 shots, which includes getting booster shots as needed.