The city of Austin and Travis County have moved to Stage 3 pandemic risk-based guidance as of Oct. 12.

The shift follows a decline in coronavirus-related hospitalizations, dropping from a moving average of 27.6 on Oct. 4 to 19.4 on Oct. 11. Additionally, the number of available intensive care unit beds has improved throughout Texas' Trauma Service Region O, which includes Travis County, with 54 beds available, up from zero at the height of the delta variant's surge in Central Texas. As of Oct. 11, there were 90 coronavirus patients in Austin-area ICUs, down 62% from 237 on Aug. 22.

However, Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County health authority, urged community members to remain vigilant against the spread of COVID-19, especially in the midst of flu season.

“Now is not the time to let our guard down. While our numbers are dramatically better than they were at the peak of this surge, we need to remain committed with the widespread, highly transmissible delta variant,” Walkes said in a news release. "Flu season is just beginning, and it will not take much to trigger another surge of cases and overburden our hospital systems again. Get vaccinated, get tested and stay home if you are sick.”

Walkes said the delta variant, which is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States and Travis County, remains highly transmissible and calls for vigilance in protective behaviors. However, she said the Austin community had made it to the other side of the summer's delta variant surge. The community entered Stage 5 guidance during the surge in early August before declining to Stage 4 Sept. 28.

Now under Stage 3 guidance, unvaccinated individuals are asked to mask up in indoor settings as well as outdoor settings when social distancing is not possible. Fully vaccinated individuals are asked to continue masking while traveling.