The Austin metropolitan area had a seven-day moving average of 19 daily coronavirus-related hospital admissions as of July 13. The average number of hospitalizations in the area is a primary indicator used by APH to determine Austin-Travis County's pandemic risk-related guidance; an average of 15 daily hospitalizations is the minimum threshold to trigger shift to Stage 3 community guidelines. Austin has been under Stage 2 guidance since mid-May, but If the transmission of COVID-19 continues to tick upward, APH may consider ramping up health and safety guidelines to Stage 3, mainly affected guidance for unvaccinated community members, APH representatives confirmed to Community Impact Newspaper in a July 12 email.
While Travis County has high COVID-19 vaccination rates, with over 70% of eligible residents at least partially vaccinated against the virus, Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority, said unvaccinated young adults account for much of the uptick in cases.
"There's been a doubling the admissions in the 20 to 29 year old age group, and the 30 to 39 year old age group . . . and the 70 to 79 year old age group," Walkes said.
Walkes said variants of the virus could be a reason for the uptick in cases and hospitalizations. Although the contagious Delta variant has not yet been confirmed by a lab in Travis County, surrounding counties have confirmed cases.
According to Walkes, the best way to combat any variant of COVID-19, she said, is to get vaccinated. By Sept. 1, she said, APH aims for Travis County to reach the next vaccination goalpost of getting 70% of the eligible population fully vaccinated.
"We have to get the message out, and we have to have everyone understand that the way out of this pandemic is for people to be vaccinated, to protect themselves from contracting COVID-19," she said.